Amazon today announced a new series of classes and programs to help small businesses make money selling goods online, at a time when the tech giant is cracking down on outside groups that claim to have the formula for success on its e-commerce platform.
The new Amazon Small Business Academy includes in-person seminars, community college courses and webinars. Amazon is hosting its first small business seminar today in Southaven, Miss. near Memphis, a free event where it will give sellers insights and best practices about starting and growing e-commerce businesses.
Amazon said the next seminar will be in December, but it didn’t give a location. Through grants, Amazon is supporting digital business classes launching in February at community colleges in Houston; Boston; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Elyria, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; and Lakewood, Colo.
“Small businesses make up 99.9% of U.S. businesses, employ almost 60 million people, and are the backbone of our economy. We’ve heard from many of them that they want help and guidance to take advantage of the power of the internet and digital business, particularly in rural areas,” Nicholas Denissen, Amazon vice president of small business, said in a statement. “Amazon Small Business Academy is focused on accelerating small business’ digital capabilities, whether they are a brand new company or one that has been in business for generations.”
Third-party sellers, many of them small businesses, make up roughly 58 percent of Amazon’s online store sales. In the third quarter, Amazon’s online stores brought in more than $35 billion in revenue.
Amazon said it is spending $15 billion this year alone on initiatives to help third-party sellers bolster their businesses. The company has released more than 150 tools in 2019 designed to boost small- and medium-sized businesses on the platform.
Amazon has invested significant time and resources to stop several groups offering pricey seminars that the tech giant has labeled as “get-rich-quick schemes,” allegedly bilking aspiring sellers out of thousands of dollars. Last month, Amazon sued a group of e-commerce “coaches” teaching seminars to help businesses make a “passive income” on Amazon. In the past, Amazon has teamed up with the Washington state Attorney General and other government agencies in cases against groups that claimed to have insider knowledge of best practices to sell on the tech giant’s platform.