OPINION: Amazon makes efforts to show that it is not the enemy of small business

1 November 2020
By Tom Collins

  • Amazon is wonderful – if, that is, you are a customer, and you are only thinking about the short term.
  • However. what will happen if Amazon becomes too big, and smaller stores close?
  • Then again, smaller businesses can sell via Amazon Marketplace and be listed on Amazon. Businesses always go where the customer is, so they could adopt an ‘if you can beat em, join em’ attitude.

Anti Amazon vibes in Ireland

Last week, on 20 October the well paid RTE Radio Presenter Ryan Tubridy had a series of digs at Amazon founder (and billionaire investor) Jeff Bezos. Tubridy encouraged people to “abandon Amazon” and shop local this Christmas.

The RTE star was speaking about the current lockdown and how it would force many smaller businesses to close their doors.

He pleaded with the public to shop local in the runup to this COVID19 era Christmas, he said “It would be enormously helpful if people like me and people like you decided to abandon Amazon for the next four weeks to do your Christmas shopping…. This isn’t just a glib ‘shop local everybody’ – this is really important.” He continued “Shopping local keeps your brothers, your sisters, your mothers, your fathers and your cousins and their businesses alive… Otherwise, they’re dead.”

He added that spending your euros locally is better than bolstering Amazon’s coffers: “Boom! Jeff Bezos is down 50 quid. That’s good.”

Anti Amazon vibes globally

There is an undercurrent of anti Amazon views globally, but vibe is not against Amazon per se, rather it’s a wider idea of shopping locally versus with a global corporation.

Corporate Social Responsibility – Amazon fights back, by highlighting how it can help smaller busineses

Businesses in Cork are being encouraged to attend a virtual ‘Amazon Academy Ireland ‘ event on Friday 6th November. It’s designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cork “grow revenues, enhance productivity and develop digital skills”

Interestingly, it is being fronted by another RTE Name; The Dragon’s Den star, Alison Cowzer, will offer advice on how to grow a business, with other industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs providing Irish SMEs with practical information on how to reach new customers around the world

Alison Cowzer. Photo credit: RTE Presspack

Amazon Academy Ireland has been created in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, Enterprise Nation, Design & Crafts Council Ireland and the Local Enterprise Office. The event will feature interviews, panel discussions and interactive Q&A sessions with Irish industry leaders, including RTE Dragon’s Den investor Alison Cowzer, successful Amazon entrepreneurs, as well as marketing, HR, accounting, IP and legal experts. They will provide a wide range of practical advice on how to grow sales and guidance on the issues facing businesses in Ireland today.

“Cork is home to some of the country’s most inventive and inspiring SMEs and we’re excited to bring the Amazon Academy to Ireland for the first time to support these world-class Irish entrepreneurs,” said Simon Donegan, Head of Seller Services, Amazon. “We’re looking forward to welcoming hundreds of people to our virtual event in November where they’ll meet and learn from some of Ireland’s leading business minds.”

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland: “We are delighted to collaborate with Amazon on their first ever Amazon Academy Ireland, designed to help Irish SMEs and entrepreneurs realise their ambitions and embrace e-commerce for growth. More than ever, consumers around the world are shopping online and there is a significant appetite from Enterprise Ireland client companies to trade online and to partner with marketplaces such as Amazon to access new customers and markets. Virtual selling is one of the key areas of focus for Enterprise Ireland client companies and we are committed to helping Irish SMEs access the range of digital marketing supports available to help grow their businesses online”.

Emma Jones MBE, Head of Enterprise Nation: “We are looking forward to bringing the Amazon Academy to Ireland for the first time to support the growing number of small businesses across the country, helping them build a stronger online presence and expand their digital might. It’s an exciting development in Amazon’s approach to supporting smaller companies and we are looking forward to a strong, informative and inspirational event.”

Amazon Academy Ireland takes place following a recent report from Enterprise Ireland, published during International Markets Week 2020, which showed that one in three SMEs have seen their export sales decline in 2020 due to COVID-19. But despite the challenges faced by small businesses this year, many remain optimistic, with more than half (57%) of Irish SMEs expecting a brighter outlook in 2021 alongside an ambition to create new jobs, and 83% intend to hire new staff next year.

Positive things about Amazon in Ireland

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it was creating another 1,000 permanent jobs in Ireland over the next two years. The new, highly skilled roles will be based in locations across the company’s Cork and Dublin sites in Blanchardstown, Tallaght, the city centre, and north County Dublin, and will bring Amazon’s total permanent workforce in the country to 5,000 people over the next two years. This will help to support Ireland’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the cut and thrust world of commerce, the landscape is always changing. The decision over where you spend your euros is a personal one. You can vote with your wallet.

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