How small businesses are mastering the art of selling online

(BPT) - Consumer buying habits have changed dramatically over the years. With the rise of online shopping, many small and medium-sized businesses find it difficult to reach customers in the vast ocean of the internet. To succeed online, businesses need a partner to help them reach a national — or even global — customer base, and to support them throughout the process of building their business and fulfilling increasing demand for their products or services.

An amazing variety of small and medium-sized businesses now boost online sales by selling in Amazon’s stores, reaching more customers and bringing their business to a whole new level. More than half of the items sold in Amazon’s stores worldwide are from small and medium-sized businesses. And the number of small and medium-sized businesses exceeding $1 million in sales in Amazon’s stores worldwide grew by 20 percent last year, to more than 25,000.

When Tara Darnley, co-founder of lifestyle baby brand Darlyng & Co., started selling online in 2015, she initially hesitated to sell in Amazon’s stores, despite being an Amazon customer. However, she changed her mind when she noticed a reseller offering one of their popular products for three times the retail value on Amazon — and selling out.

“We knew then that we were leaving money behind by not establishing our brand ourselves on Amazon,” Darnley says. Once Darlyng & Co. moved their business to Amazon, their sales increased instantly.

Darnley explains that their products appeal to “parents who are up late in the night with a cranky teething baby and the only time they get a chance to browse the internet is late at night. We actually could not keep up with the demand from Amazon in the beginning. We were getting 100 orders a day.”

Darlyng & Co. turned to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to help handle their influx of orders. With FBA, businesses store their products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, so Amazon can pack, ship, and provide customer service for them. Using FBA also makes products Prime eligible, providing members with free shipping and other benefits.

The success of Darlyng & Co. is booming, according to Darnley: “As a result of selling on Amazon we’ve been able to grow our brand globally without the need for a middle person or distributor. We sell on Amazon.com, Amazon.uk and recently Amazon.au, and now our products are more accessible to customers worldwide.”

Small businesses are also finding success with Amazon Handmade, where artisans from all 50 states and more than 80 countries offer genuinely handcrafted goods.

The owner of John Leslie Studios started selling his handmade jewelry and personalized gifts made from reclaimed wood online in 2014, with moderate success. The Amazon Handmade team approached Leslie in 2015 about being among the first sellers to join the new store.

“I hesitated because of the time and effort involved in creating all new listings but, after serious thought, put the work in to create my Amazon Handmade storefront. Best decision I've ever made,” says Leslie. His first year in the new store, sales doubled and continue to grow.

Leslie describes how quickly things changed: “I saw sales almost immediately since I started at the beginning of the Christmas season. It got so busy that Amazon contacted me because they wanted to make sure I could keep up with the sales volume.”

That was the best thing about the online store for him — the personalized support from the Amazon team. Leslie explains, “The greatest thing is that you can request a phone call from the help desk and in minutes you are speaking with a real person who can walk you through your issue.”

Leslie recommends Amazon to any small business, saying, “My sales have steadily increased on Amazon year after year. Last year my sales on Amazon alone were over $150,000. Simply being on Amazon is a huge visibility boost because Amazon is often the first place people go when seeking to purchase almost anything.”