Almost 30 years ago, Amazon was a small business founded on an entrepreneur’s vision and passion. While we have grown over the years, we have retained that same entrepreneurial spirit and we have never lost sight of the importance of launching, scaling and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Third-party sellers, many of whom are SMEs, account for more than 50% of everything we sell across the European region, covering eight EU member states (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Belgium), the UK and Türkiye. Our SME relationships have expanded over the years, and we now partner with more than 225,000 SMEs across the region. These partnerships are underpinned by continual investment by Amazon to provide SMEs with the best tools and services available, backed up by a dedicated support team of more than 28,000 Amazon employees worldwide. Across the region, our investments in people, services, tools and programs focused exclusively on supporting SMEs exceeded €3.4 billion in 2021 alone.
Digital skills improvement: 650,000 European entrepreneurs received training to grow their business online
SMEs play a critical role in the wider economy. For context, EU data shows that in 2021, SMEs accounted for 99.8% of all non-financial EU firms, employed 83 million people, and generated 52% of total value added in the EU produced by the non-financial sector. For a business to thrive, it needs access to active customers and it needs the digital skills required to serve those customers, wherever they shop. If a business wants to expand, it also needs access to new customers and new territories.
We help SMEs digitise their traditional business or start selling online for the first time. Over the last year, we’ve partnered with around 90 local organisations in Germany, France, Italy and Spain to offer digital skills training to more than 650,000 firms. We also provide SMEs with the technologies, expertise and support they need to sell their products worldwide. Through its partnership with Amazon, a tiny start-up based around a kitchen table can launch and grow its business to access a global audience that extends far beyond the bounds of their local sales area, reaching customers in more than 200 countries and territories.
In 2021, European SMEs sold 2.2 billion products to our customers worldwide – over €14.5 billion achieved in export sales
One of the most exciting aspects of our SME partnerships is the role we’re playing in helping smaller companies across the region expand their export sales volumes. In 2021, SMEs selling across Amazon’s European region achieved export sales of more than €14.5 billion – a 10% increase on the prior year. By way of comparison, that’s a faster rate of growth than the increase in intra-EU export volumes between any EU member state last year. It is also significantly higher than the 2.7% average annual growth rate in extra-EU trade volumes across the Eurozone as a whole. More than half of all SMEs on Amazon are now selling their products across the EU and internationally, and we’re confident that this number will increase in years to come.
Partnering with Amazon has proven to be transformative for so many smaller companies. In 2021, SMEs across Amazon’s European region sold more than 2.2 billion products – that’s more than 4,200 products every minute – to Amazon customers worldwide. That sales volume was 65% higher than in 2020, and the number of SMEs selling in Amazon stores has also increased markedly, up by around 20% compared with 2020. More than 50,000 SMEs across the region exceeded €100,000 in sales through Amazon during 2021 – that’s a 25% increase in the number of firms passing that threshold in 2020 – and more than 2,500 SMEs surpassed €1 million in sales for the first-time last year.
There’s another very important dimension to our SME partnerships. When a business grows, it invariably creates new roles and hires new people. The significant increase in reaching new customers globally by selling in Amazon stores also translates into an increase in jobs and employment opportunities. Every year we ask all our selling partners for an update on how their business is progressing. That research gives us good insights into the factors that matter for our SME partners. It's clear that many firms are taking on new staff to help manage higher volumes of sales. To date, SMEs across the European region who sell in Amazon stores have created more than 650,000 new jobs to support their businesses online.
Our SME partnerships are a good example of a commitment that delivers positive outcomes for all involved. We’re helping smaller local businesses transform into global vendors, creating new jobs as they do so. Many have also used Amazon as a springboard to diversify into a range of selling channels, from their own websites and other third-party marketplaces to the major search and social media platforms. All of this has expanded the range of choices available to Amazon’s customers, who benefit from a huge variety of options from sellers - big and small - based all over world.
Read our 2022 European SME Impact Report to find out more