Home' Forge : Vol 4 No 1 Contents 30 // FEATURE
program, which isn’t here yet
but will be soon, Amazon will
warehouse [your product] for
you, and when something gets
sold, they’ll pick it, pack it, and
Of course, there is Amazon’s cut,
which is around 15 per cent – more
if you use its FBA service or other
features. That’s only due once your
While Hudson predicts that
Amazon will eventually put heavy
downward pressure on retail
prices, he says net margins may not
‘If you’re a small business selling
through a retail outlet, it’s an
inefficient method of doing business
– because Westfield, for example,
takes so much of the retailer ’s
money,’ he says.
Brian O’Grady, who runs digital
agency Flarecom Digital Marketing,
says Amazon isn’t an immediate
path to riches.
‘It’s not as easy as sticking products
on Amazon and hoping they’re
going to sell, and everyone makes a
fortune – there’s a fine line between
whether a lot of these guys make
profit on it or not.’
O’Grady says that unless there
are high margins involved, listing
on Amazon may not be cost-
effective for many smaller retailers,
especially if volumes are low.
It’s also worth considering whether
jumping on Amazon will upset
current retailers that stock your
product, he says.
As for the opportunity, O’Grady
says a range of small businesses are
trying their luck.
‘There are a lot of people
importing directly from Alibaba
in China,’ he says. They then
mark up the product by up to
50 per cent, and make a decent
profit selling it online, even while
holding down other jobs. Says
O’Grady, ‘If it’s not a full-time
business, there are certainly a lot
of people making a decent living
on it on a part-time basis.
‘There are lots of smaller businesses
that are manufacturers [that are]
now trying it, as well, and a lot of
people that have market stalls.’
In many cases, Amazon can help
small businesses to find new or
bigger markets, says O’Grady.
Of course, if your product can’t be
easily found on Amazon, there is
probably very little money to be made.
‘There’s a bit of SEO [search
engine optimization] involved
in how you rank on Amazon,
so if you don’t optimise your
products correctly, you’re going to
be on page two of Amazon,’ says
‘It’s just making sure that those
product descriptions are right, and
capturing the keywords that people
are searching for.’
Whether you embrace it or not, says
O’Grady, Amazon is here to stay.
So, retailers either need to improve
their own websites before the site
gains serious traction, or perhaps
decide to join the party.
‘[Amazon] is not going to go away.
They’ve put an awful lot of money
into this,’ says O’Grady.
Planting the ‘seed’ for Amazon
Melbourne small business Hab
Shifa, which sells products
made from black seed, is already
experiencing success on Amazon
sites around the world – particularly
After first listing on Amazon’s US
site at the end of 2015 with solid
results, Hab Shifa then added
Canada, Japan and parts of Europe
to its Amazon experiment the
Today, the business is selling
approximately $20,000 to $30,000
of stock per month through the
Canadian Amazon site alone, says
owner Azam Kassim.
‘The tide has changed a bit, and
right now Canada is one of our
biggest sellers,’ he says. ‘We feel that
their thirst for natural products has
really increased, and they’re looking
for alternatives – for new products
– so we fit quite nicely into that
Kassim says black seed originated
in Egypt, where it was first used as
a spice. It was also said to have been
found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
‘The oil itself is one of the best
around, so you can drink the oil,
and it can be applied on your skin
topically, as well,’ he says.
‘It’s very widely used in Asia and
Africa, but not so much in Australia,
so one of our challenges so far has
been introducing the black seed to
the consumers in Australia – firstly
the existence of black seed, and then
the benefits of the product.’
In Canada, the business’s products
are stocked in Amazon’s Montreal
warehouse, ready to be shipped out
by the online retailing behemoth.
The black seed oil products can
also be found in two Amazon
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