A report from Accelerate 2023: Amazon is listening intently to its Sellers and working hard to alleviate the various challenges they face.
By Michael Bond, The Mars Agency
The Accelerate conference is always my favorite event on Amazon’s annual calendar, and my just-concluded 2023 experience was no different. Amazon puts on spectacular, polished events filled with techno-intrigue: lights, camera, action, and DJ Mix Master Mike is delivering the thump before the clock even strikes 9am.
When you enter the arena with Amazon, you immediately get the sense of the immense capability of people in the crowd; among both speakers and attendees, the intellectual horsepower and the passion are palpable. And inclusion of the Amazon Sellers community sets this event apart from other conferences, which tend to focus more on Amazon Vendors or Amazon Advertising.
The juice, the vibrancy provided by Sellers sets Accelerate apart, and it also aligns with what Amazon does best: starting with the customer and working backwards to achieve collective goals and outsized results. One consistent theme throughout the conference was that Amazon has been listening to Sellers by making significant strides over the last year toward unblocking the various challenges that have been communicated.
It’s essential for Amazon to continually improve and remove roadblocks so that Sellers can flourish which, in turn, allows Amazon to flourish — a true win-win partnership between the market’s biggest Goliath and the many, many entrepreneurial Davids in its ecosystem.
This event delivers inspiring real-seller stories (I’m seriously buying a Wooble right after I finish writing this), announcements from Amazon about new products and features for the Seller universe, and an opportunity to connect and learn from other Sellers and service providers in the space.
That seems to be another hallmark of Accelerate compared to other Amazon events: the sharing that happens among different Sellers is real, deep, meaningful, and helps Amazon become a bit more “human.” Although competitive, the Seller universe is also supportive and legitimately interested in doing more than just selling units. It doesn’t feel like lip service.
I would assume that the Amazonians in attendance also sense that breath-of-fresh-air atmosphere and are able to focus — at least for a few days — on entrepreneurs, their communities, and even sustainability, working toward making a difference for multiple bottom lines — from the Seller’s P&L to the planet in which they live and operate.
I won’t bother providing a full accounting of all the event happenings or new-feature announcements, since that’s available from the Mothership itself. I will, however, offer some of my own key takeaways. So, without further ado, here are 5 things I think (I think) were most noteworthy.
1. Amazon has been listening and wants Sellers to have a voice — and strong voice at that, it’s not just hyperbole. Many of the product announcements involved updates and upgrades to existing programs that are a direct result of Amazon’s tireless efforts to take critical feedback and actually do something about it. Amazon is absolutely dedicated and committed to partnering with Sellers at every stage of their journey to help drive success on the Marketplace.
2. Amazon is doing its darndest to help unblock some of the biggest blocks and annoyances for Sellers (like simplifying support case escalations). In some cases, it’s even developing a whole new program or feature set to plug gaps in areas that hadn’t previously been served (such as third-party payments).
3. Amazon is integrating new technologies, analytics, and insights directly into Seller Central like never before. For the many Sellers who haven’t dug deeply either into reporting and analytics or third-party party SaaS providers to level-up their game, this could be a watershed moment. One of my favorite new Seller Central integrations is the listing builder, which leverages generative AI and language models to build an optimized listing.
4. Supply chain/fulfillment/last mile is a huge focus area for Amazon, both to support Seller businesses and as a billion-dollar tentpole business for the company. Two key storylines introduced at the event were Supply Chain by Amazon and Amazon Shipping, which are compelling alternatives to streamline operations, reduce costs, drive growth, and improve customer satisfaction. The recent deal to offer Buy with Prime to Shopify merchants (after that rival ecommerce platform stepped away from providing similar services) is a somewhat shocking but telling development within this space: Fulfillment is hard! Amazon gets it right.
5. Local communities and sustainability are important. Amazon really doesn’t get much credit for being a force multiplier in local communities, where Seller businesses often have a huge impact. One of the most heartfelt moments of the entire event was Amazon providing $50,000 grants to support the community efforts of three Sellers — there wasn’t a dry eye in the bunch when the announcement was made on-stage. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Climate Pledge and SIOC (Ships in Own Container) initiatives are two exemplary ways it is working to place sustainability at the forefront of ethical business practices by reducing emissions and waste. Just say no to bad packaging and over-boxing!
Ferris Bueller once famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This year’s Accelerate conference gave me another chance to do that.
About the Author
As Vice President of Ecommerce at The Mars Agency, Michael Bond provides clients with consultative services on end-to-end business management for ecommerce, with a particular focus on all things Amazon. His extensive background in ecommerce and digital marketing includes Fortune 50 experience at both Amazon and Microsoft.