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The Amazon Sellers Conference expects to bring 300 registrants to Big Cedar Lodge on Aug. 21. It’s the event’s first time in southwest Missouri.
SBJ file photo
The Amazon Sellers Conference expects to bring 300 registrants to Big Cedar Lodge on Aug. 21. It’s the event’s first time in southwest Missouri.

Amazon Crash Course: An e-commerce how-to for Amazon Marketplace coming to Branson

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With Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) projected to hit retail e-commerce sales in the stratosphere of more than a quarter-trillion dollars this year, one area event plans to reach out to those interested in learning more about the hugely popular retailer’s marketplace.

The Amazon Sellers Conference will make its debut Aug. 21 in the Branson area. It’s organized by Supplier Community, a Bentonville, Arkansas-based company that serves as a resource center for retailers and suppliers via online content including peer-to-peer videos, forums and community events.

“We’ve been teaching and training and hosting events since the company started,” said Matt Fifer, founder and CEO of Supplier Community. “We do a lot more than host events, but they are an opportunity for us to interact with a lot of people at once.”

The one-day conference will be held in the Grandview Conference Center at Big Cedar Lodge, with organizers targeting those already established in the e-commerce world on Amazon, as well as beginners attempting to secure an online foothold.

Supplier Community, which has 10 full-time employees, sends out a semiweekly newsletter to 150,000 subscribers. Fifer said the 3-year-old company has held numerous events for developing products and bringing them to market, with an emphasis on Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) vendor relations.

However, this event is the first to focus on Amazon sellers, Fifer said, noting the company has no affiliation with the online retailer. Fifer, a Reeds Spring High School and Missouri Southern State University graduate, said he desired to bring an event closer to where he grew up.

At least 17 speakers are on tap for the conference, which has a $300 registration fee, but is free for college students, Fifer said. He added getting students exposed to Amazon Marketplace and e-commerce, in general, could provide a career alternative for them.

“It’s a great opportunity to get involved with it, instead of a more traditional career,” said Fifer, who worked for Walmart in college and worked his way into domestic and international marketing for the world’s largest retailer.

According to marketing research company eMarketer, Amazon’s retail e-commerce growth in the U.S. is projected to reach $258.22 billion in 2018, up 29 percent from 2017. That number is nearly half of the country’s projected e-commerce market, at 49 percent. Of that total, nearly $176 billion, or 68 percent of Amazon’s retail sales, comes from its Marketplace platform.

Springfield Leather Co. is a local business earning a taste of revenue from Amazon’s large e-commerce retail pie. The 1463 S. Glenstone Ave storefront has been dabbling in e-commerce beyond its own website for about seven years, utilizing Amazon, eBay and Etsy, said General Manager Rusty Darnell. “I always try to not get my hopes extremely high; it’s a much shorter fall,” he said, regarding his expectations when initially selling on Amazon.

Springfield Leather Co. offers products through two platforms on Amazon.

“It’s been a very good thing for us,” he said. “It’s always presented itself in a challenging manner. They have a lot of rules you have to follow.”

Darnell estimated 5-7 percent of annual sales for the business are generated through Amazon purchases, equating to about $700,000 in 2017.

“You can almost say it’s a $100,000 increase in sales every year,” he added.

A five-person e-commerce team for Springfield Leather Co. has weekly meetings to discuss what’s working and what’s not, Darnell said. While employees won’t be attending the Amazon Sellers Conference at Big Cedar, Darnell said going to a similar event in the future is an intriguing idea.

“We have interest in them, because I don’t think we’re too smart to know it all,” he said.

The conference agenda includes sessions on advance e-commerce analytics, product delivery and supply chain, and Amazon seller strategies on how to build brands and source products to achieve global compliance. Among the scheduled speakers are Greg Mercer, CEO and founder of Amazon research product software Jungle Scout, and Greg Powell, CEO of Sage Tree LLC, a global sales representation agency specialized in e-commerce.

Fifer said current registration is around 300, which meets projections for what is intended to become an annual event in the area.

“We’re going to pack a lot of information into one day,” said Fifer. “What makes this so special is bringing the best of the best in doing business on Amazon to a first-of-its-kind event like this in southwest Missouri.”

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