Amazon is holding invitation-only meetings with small sellers to convince them to pay it another $5,000 a month

Getty/Sean Gallup
  • In room called One Amazon at the Venetian in Las Vegas,Amazon is holding invitational meetings.
  • The meetings are designed to convince companies who sell their products on Amazon to join a new coaching program called Amazon Growth.
  • The program costs $US2,500 – $US5,000 a month, and promises to help sellers with things like creating a business plan, or figuring out advertising keywords.
  • Some sellers have chatted on forums that they are baffled by the program and what they would actually receive for the money.

Amazon is holding invitation-only meetings at CES in a room called One Amazon at the Venetian, reports CNBC’s Eugene Kim. The topic: convincing people who sell their wares on Amazon’s Marketplace to pay up to $US5,000 a month to join a support program that would get them an Amazon account representative.

Amazon Marketplace allows any small or mid-sized business to sell their wares through Amazon, giving them access to Amazon’s hundreds of millions of customers, its warehouses, shipping/fulfillment services, even wrapping paper services. Marketplace accounts for about half of the company’s total unit sales, the company says.

The CES meetings involved explaining a new program launched last year called Marketplace Growth. Growth assigns the seller an account representative. The rep can help them do things like create a business plan and offer them advice on keyword advertising, Amazon says. But it’s pricey. For companies who sell less than $US1 million in gross sales a year, Amazon requires the seller to commit to $US2,500/month to join the program. For those who sell $US1 million to $US10 million, it charges $US3,500/month and at over $US10 million, it charges $US5,000/month.

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This is on top of the fees sellers already pay Amazon, including a roughly $US40 monthly fee to have a pro seller account. Sellers also pay Amazon a percentage of each sale ranging from 8% to 45% depending on the type of item being sold, with 15% being typical. Additional services, such as for warehouse space, also require an extra fee.

Some sellers are sceptical

Many Amazon sellers would welcome a premium level of customer service, with a rep on speed dial to quickly deal with fake reviews, counterfeit versions of their products and to help in instances when their own products have been unfairly targeted for removal.

But CNBC’s Kim points out that some sellers on Amazon’s forums are sceptical and, even baffled, by what benefits the new service will actually provide.

Although the program gives these sellers a person to contact to ask about support issues, Amazon’s marketing materials don’t promise speedier support than what’s available through existing support channels. Amazon vaguely promises that it will give customers a support “consultation.” Its marketing materials say “dedicated support and performance consultation can help you troubleshoot and resolve issues.”

We asked Amazon for comment on the meetings at CES and about the types of things the $US5,000/month account rep does, specifically if the rep helps sellers address fake reviews, counterfeits and other such support issues.

Sellers in the program don’t get access to fast-tracked support service, Amazon said, but they might have their support issues addressed by a more seasoned support person.

A spokesperson told us via an emailed statement that “Account managers can provide insights on everything from advertising to financial planning to inventory or even choosing the next product to sell.”

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