Amazon to host free event for SMEs looking to boost online sales and reach into international markets

Amazon’s Graham Allison at the sprawling Dunfermline distribution centre

Amazon is to host a free event in Scotland aimed at helping small and medium-sized (SME) businesses to boost their online sales and reach into international markets.

The e-commerce giant will host the ‘Amazon Academy’ event for the first time at its Dunfermline distribution centre – the second largest facility of its kind in the UK – on Tuesday, August 20.

Back for the third year running in Scotland, the event, run in collaboration with small business support network Enterprise Nation, will offer local entrepreneurs and SMEs free workshops with information, tips and insights on how to use e-commerce to grow their business as well as boost export sales and improve customer experience. 

Graham Allison, General Manager at Amazon’s Dunfermline fulfilment centre, said: “We know that Scotland is home to some of the most inventive and innovative small businesses anywhere in the world and that’s why we’re bringing the Amazon Academy Scotland to our town.

“The Amazon Academy has one aim – to help businesses in our community grow by embracing digital technology. A thriving business community has a positive impact on the people of Scotland and the Amazon Academy will help businesses across the country continue to grow by reaching markets and customers around the world via exports. I’m looking forward to welcoming businesses of all shapes and sizes to our fulfilment centre later this month.”  

The event, scheduled for 8:30am to 2:30pm, will feature expert talks on business, marketing and technology, as well as tours of the facility, which is the size of 14 football pitches; the event is free to attend but space is limited so businesspeople interested in attending are advised to register for tickets.

Since launching in 2016, the Amazon Academy has helped over 1,500 SMEs and entrepreneurs across the UK learn how to grow their businesses. The company, which last year surpasssed the $1trillion valuation mark (the only other company to do in the US has been Apple), provides businesses with a ‘suite’ of tools to export their products and services.

These include providing global delivery and distribution, managing customer services in the local language and translating hundreds of millions of product listings each year on behalf of smaller businesses. 

More than half of everything sold on Amazon comes from small and medium sized businesses, according to the company’s own figures, which also reveal that 8-in-10 UK marketplace sellers export their products accounting for £2.5bn in sales last year.

Emma Jones MBE, Founder of Enterprise Nation, which provides expert advice and support for over 70,000 of Britain’s SMEs, said: “Websites like Amazon are a great way for SMEs in Scotland to break into international markets, and Amazon’s Academy event in Dunfermline perfectly mirrors our mission to help local SMEs grow their business online.”

 “By embracing digital technology for export sales, business can reach their potential more quickly and efficiently and I’m looking forward to meeting hundreds of SMEs and entrepreneurs at the event as we help them expand their horizons with talks, workshops and more.”

Among Scottish companies to have benefited from using Amazon’s sales tools include Glasgow-based Shearer Candles, which has been trading in the city since 1897; the firm generates £300,000 of its £2.4m annual turnover through Amazon Marketplace, which enables independent businesses to sell their products through the Amazon website to hundreds of millions of potential customers around the world; and Fulfilment by Amazon, which lets businesses hand over logistics to Amazon who store, pack and deliver their products. 

Assai Records, which sells collectible vinyl LPs and has stores in Dundee and Edinburgh, has also used the platform and Fulfilment by Amazon to sell and distribute over 50,000 records, and around 4,000 record players, vinyl carry cases and accessories, shipping to 16 different countries around the world.

And Glasgow-based inventors who developed a scientifically-engineered travel pillow – the Trtl – that lets travellers sleep in absolute comfort, have sold over 275,000 units via Amazon Marketplace. The company, whose product is an alternative to the travel cushion and resembles a scarf, sell half their stock on Amazon Marketplace and won Small Exporter of the Year at the Scottish Export Awards 2018.

Members of the public who aren’t attending the Academy can also sign up for a free tour of Amazon here. The tours are open to anyone over the age of six years old. Each tour lasts about one hour, and the maximum number of participants is 25 people.