Live From Amazon Seller Summit in China

More than ten thousand sellers attended the 5th annual Amazon Global Store Cross-Border Summit (2019亚马逊全球开店跨境峰会) held in Shanghai on December 11-12th. Twice as many participated in the live online broadcast because the event was sold out.

As the name suggests, the event focused on international expansion, fulfillment, product innovation, and brand building overseas. The event included speakers like Eric Broussard, Amazon’s vice president overseeing international marketplaces, Ed Feitzinger, vice president overseeing global logistics, Sachin Jain, vice president responsible for seller and vendor experience, and Cindy Tai, Head of Amazon Global Selling-Asia.

Amazon Global Store Cross-Border Summit speakers

Event ticket cost was 128 Chinese Yuan ($18 US Dollars) and 958 Chinese Yuan ($136 US Dollars) for a ticket with access to workshops. Those without a ticket could tune in to the live broadcast. The event in previous years was in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen, and Ningbo cities.

The event didn’t present any breaking news, but keynote speakers laid out Amazon’s areas of strategic focus in China:

  1. Continuing to invest in developing operational tools to make sellers’ global distribution and operations more straightforward.
  2. Providing diversified business models to help sellers seize global business opportunities. Including Amazon Business, Amazon Accelerator, and Amazon Licensed Brands.
  3. Enriching logistics and inventory management solutions to help sellers optimize their supply chain.
  4. Providing brand promotion and protection tools to support merchants in building global brands.

Amazon Global Store Cross-Border Summit appeared more significant than events held by Amazon in the US. Both because of the number of vice president level Amazon employees and because of the consistent vision laid out in the keynotes. In the US, Amazon hosted six small, regional events this year in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Seattle, Washington, Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California. Previously, Amazon’s only conference in the US was “Boost with FBA,” held for the last time in 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

On December 4th, Amazon hosted its first summit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. More than 2,000 sellers attended the event. Bernard Tay, Head of Amazon Global Selling Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, said Vietnam has advantages in manufacturing, young talents, and online communities.

Amazon Global Store Cross-Border Summit

Local competitors like Alibaba and JD.com thwarted Amazon’s attempt to build an online retail business in China, which it shut down in July this year. Instead, it began experimenting with the new strategy, and employees “realized that global selling is much bigger” than selling in China, a former Amazon manager said to The Wall Street Journal.

For Chinese retailers and manufacturers, Amazon is the most efficient direct-to-consumer platform to reach the US and European shoppers. Amazon seller Zhao Weiming described Amazon as “the most cost-effective way to sell into the United States.” Yet as recently as 2013, barely anyone in China has heard of Amazon. By 2015, Amazon’s seller portal was functional for sellers in the Mandarin language. Thanks to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), virtually eliminating otherwise slow shipping, sellers from China appear local to shoppers in the US and have, over the years, grown to represent a significant share of all sellers.

As a result, 42% of the active sellers across all sixteen Amazon marketplaces are based in China, up from 26% two years ago, according to Marketplace Pulse research. On Amazon.com in the US, 36% of the active sellers are from China, with US-based sellers representing 50%.

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Juozas "Joe" Kaziukėnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Joe wears multiple hats in the management of Marketplace Pulse, including writing most of the articles. Based in New York City. Advisor to other startups and entrepreneurs. Occasional speaker at conferences.

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