Despite the impact COVID-19 has had on small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), tens of thousands of UK-based businesses have been selling their products in Amazon’s stores across the world with the company providing practical support and services to help them grow.
More than 60% of UK businesses selling on Amazon export to customers all over the globe. In 2019 they achieved total export sales of more than £2.75bn and supported more than 85,000 job opportunities in the UK.
We caught up with founders of two of the SMEs selling around the world on Amazon, iQualTech and Ocushield, to reflect on the last year – asking them what have been the biggest challenges and how are they responding.
Zamir Cajee launched iQualTech on Amazon in 2012 with the mission to make tech products more accessible, reliable and affordable. The business began as a small British start-up, selling speakers, headphones and other tech essentials. Throughout the years they have grown into a global brand thanks to Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and Amazon’s worldwide network of distribution centres.
“I started iQualTech by launching on Amazon in 2012. I chose Amazon specifically because of the FBA programme, which allows me to focus on my product, brand and customer service, while Amazon handles the inventory and logistics,” says Zamir.
"As a small business, I could never hope to build a logistics system as advanced as Amazon’s. By utilising Amazon’s services, I plug into the most customer-centric fulfilment service in the world. Ultimately, Amazon care as much about their customers as I do, so together we make a great team."
By utilising Amazon’s services, I plug into the most customer-centric fulfilment service in the world.
“Exporting can seem daunting, especially for a small business,” Zamir adds. “But it’s also great for my business, it allows me to find more customers for my products, scale faster and grow bigger. By having customers all over the world I have developed a more resilient business, and I can take advantage of more opportunities."
“Amazon makes exporting simpler, enabling me to bulk ship my products into a market, and then handing everything from that point to the end customer delivery. For me it’s the same familiar interface, no matter which country or store I am dealing with.”
iQualTech are showing no signs of slowing down. With their products already available throughout Europe, they have started selling in India and America. “Looking forward, we have our eyes on Japan and Mexico as our next countries,” says Zamir. “Wherever Amazon is, we want to be there!”
Tech start-up Ocushield was founded by optometrist Dhruvin Patel during his final year at university following a research project into the damaging effects of blue light on eyes, skin and sleep.
Blue light blockers are usually used as a coating on the lenses of prescription glasses, however Dhruvin wanted to expand the application of blue light blockers to more than just glasses and launched his own range of MHRA-certified screen covers. “Screens are getting bigger and brighter and we are spending more time than ever on them, so I wanted a way for non-glasses wearers to get the same protection from the effects of blue light,” says Dhruvin.
“With the lockdown, our screen time has increased. Our social interactions have moved to video chats and recreation is spent watching television and on tablets or phones so there was a demand for products like ours,” he adds. “Our monthly sales more than doubled and November 2020 was a record month for us.”
Our monthly sales more than doubled and November 2020 was a record month for us.
When Dhruvin launched his business on Amazon in 2018, he also joined Amazon Launchpad to help accelerate Ocushield’s growth. Amazon Launchpad makes it easy for startups to launch great ideas, market and distribute their products to millions of Amazon customers worldwide. Selling partners benefit from a streamlined onboarding experience, custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package and access to Amazon’s global fulfilment network.
“Being on Launchpad has been hugely beneficial for us. A dedicated account manager guided us through getting started and we are given opportunities to grow outside what would have been possible on our own.”
This growth has meant Dhruvin and Ocushield have been able to develop new products and export their products to more than 72 countries.
Selling globally with Amazon
This month the Amazon Small Business Accelerator is hosting a free online bootcamp: Selling Globally with Amazon. During the two-day event with small business support network, Enterprise Nation, participants will benefit from sessions on marketplace essentials and selling globally, shipping to the USA, Australia, selling into Europe after Brexit, as well as presentations on marketing and using brand tools on Amazon.
There will also be an opportunity to meet successful small businesses selling globally on Amazon’s stores, answering questions about their business journey and providing first-hand guidance to help you address the challenges of exporting today.
“Amazon is proud to be working with Enterprise Nation to deliver free education to business owners and entrepreneurs in helping them navigate the opportunities afforded by going global online,” said Simon Donegan, Head of Seller Services, Amazon. “Through this bootcamp small businesses will be equipped with the tools, knowledge and support they need to address the challenges of today, by establishing a successful online operation and reaching customers around the world.”
Emma Jones CBE, Head of Enterprise Nation: “Exporting and going global is clearly a huge topic for small businesses and as they tackle new transition-related responsibilities for the first time, free bootcamps like these are vital to ensure we can help guide firms through these challenges. Despite everything, the UK’s startup appetite has not been dimmed and remains as strong, if not stronger, than ever. What is clear however, is that the demand for early-stage support and guidance on everything from what to include in a business plan to how to export to the US and of course, the EU, has exploded. These targeted bootcamps will help to support the UK’s enterprise community through this period and beyond.”
You can now access the event for free at enterprise nation and watch the Amazon Bootcamp: Selling Globally with Amazon.