Exclusive Features

Amazon Launches Free Mobile App for Sellers

By Jack Keough

With little fanfare, Amazon has debuted a free iOS mobile application that will make it easier for small businesses to list and sell their products on Amazon’s site.

The app – called Amazon Mobile Seller App – offers merchants a set of tools that allow them to search and scan barcodes, check prices, sales ranking, reviews, list items and communicate with customers. The Amazon Mobile Seller App is available for download for iPhone users on iTunes. Eventually, Amazon plans to launch an Android version as well.

This is reportedly the first time Amazon has developed an app exclusively for merchants. Many on-line sellers with Amazon previously relied on third party apps to manage their accounts.

The development of this app brings the obvious question: How will this affect distribution and manufacturers?

There may not be a rush for distributors to use this specific app, but it also means that Amazon is continuing to grow its sales from businesses. Already, the reaction from many merchants is positive. There are also possible opportunities for distributors. This could, for example, make it easier for distributors to sell their C and D items or create an additional presence for other products to be sold on the web using Amazon as its fulfillment center. In addition, it could create an opportunity for some competitors of traditional distributors to better compete on certain product lines.

Steve Epner, an industry consultant who has been studying technology issues in the distribution marketplace for many years, said this is just one more indication of Amazon’s reach and promotion of the company as a brand.

“The biggest threat from Amazon is not its technology but getting distributors to sell through Amazon,” he said. “Amazon is fast becoming the brand and if that is the case that means that distributors could lose the reason for their existence.”

According to a discussion forum on Amazon, here are just some of the things the new app will allow a seller to do:

  • Estimate the profitability of your items before you sell. All merchants/sellers have to do is enter in the cost of the items, then the app will show the potential profit, minus Amazon’s selling and fulfillment fees.
  • List your items for sale. Create listings on Amazon.com quickly and easily.
  • Respond to customer messages. Provide great customer service by responding to customer questions quickly with the app.
  • Support from Amazon. Have a question about selling on Amazon? Use the app to contact Seller Support.
  • Secure access to your Amazon Seller account. All activity is routed through Amazon’s servers.
  • Search for new items to sell on Amazon. Check current prices, sales rank, and customer reviews of items on Amazon by using text search or scanning barcodes.

App users will also have direct access to their Amazon’s Seller account via Amazon’s secure servers. In other words, no third party would have access to your information.

The app also permits sellers to gain information on accounts that have been suspended and those who attempt to use invalid credit cards. Future updates of the app will include inventory and order management, and sales summaries.

Mobile Seller is currently in its initial stages but in various discussion forums, small businesses selling a number of different products have praised the app, saying this will help them increase sales as buyers increasingly use iPhones to make purchases during non-traditional hours.

Meanwhile Amazon announced recently that it was increasing the annual price of its Prime membership to $99, a $20 increase. Amazon Prime offers two-day shipping on more than 20 million items.

It was just two years ago this month that Amazon introduced AmazonSupply.com to sell 14 different categories of industrial products and free two-day delivery with orders of $50 or more.  Although it is unclear how well the service is doing, one survey by the Acuity Group showed that 45 percent of industrial buyers had purchased products online from AmazonSupply.com. Twenty-five percent said they had bought products frequently.

Jack Keough was the editor of Industrial Distribution magazine for more than 26 years. He often speaks at many industry events and seminars. He can be reached at john.keough@comcast.net or keoughbiz@gmail.com

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