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Amazon Seller’s Conference Wraps Up In Seattle

July 12th, 2010 by Skip McGrath

Karen and I just returned from two days at the annual SCOE – Sellers Conference of Online Entrepreneurs, which is actually an annual conference of Amazon sellers. I am pretty sure SCOE would like to call it that, but Amazon doesn’t allow the use of their name that way.

Anyway the conference has been going  on for several years now and is growing every year. Last year when I attended there were about 230 sellers. This year it had grown by almost a hundred additional sellers which overcrowded the venue at the Marriott Airport Hotel in Seattle. If the organizers want to do this again next year they will either have to limit attendance or move to a new venue as the Marriott has reached its limit.

The conference is organized by Rhonda Schnieder who is a great lady and my hat goes off to her for what she has accomplished over the years. But the size and scope of the event has outpaced Rhonda’s organizational ability and it’s time she sought some professional help with the event. One of the most common remarks I heard was considering the cost of the conference and the cost to attend, how the conference didn’t quite live up to people’s expectations. Many of the seminar rooms were so overcrowded people were leaning against walls and sitting on the floor.  The handout materials were pretty amateurish and sessions routinely started late and often ran over time.  I was in one session where the next presenter had to literally kick the previous presenter out so he could start his session.

The first day, Saturday, was composed of vendor presentations which weren’t that interesting. The sessionss were essentially sales pitches and I got as much just visiting the vendor booths in the hall.

There were some interesting vendors this year. This is not a complete list but they included Media Scouter, Bookstores.com,  FBA Power, Stamps.com, Spaceware,  DHL Global Mail, Abe Books, Endicia, Monsoon and others.  I was expecting Vendio but they didn’t show this year. Probably the most interesting new vendor was FBA Power a total solution for Amazon sellers that included inventory control, listing tools, and a really cool scanner for all types of products –not just media.

The coolest new tool, was a Android phone scanner from Media Scouter. If you have an Android phone, you can get the scanning software for just $4.99 a month.

As someone who has sold mostly on eBay for over ten years now and on Amazon for the past two years, I was impressed by the variety and sophistication of the tools and resources for Amazon sellers. The number and depth of third party solutions is right up there with eBay –and in fact may pass eBay pretty soon as more and more companies develop products for Amazon sellers.  I don’t have room in a blog post to review all of these but my next newsletter will cover some of the more important applications in depth.

The second day was taken over by Amazon. Amazon sent about 25 employees who conducted seminars on various aspects of the Amazon platform. They also hosted two sessions where sellers could make appointments with Amazon experts to discuss their business and their problems.  Last year the program included a visit to Amazon HQ in Seattle on the Monday after the event, but this year that didn’t happen as Amazon is in the middle of moving to their new headquarters in the South Lake Union area of Seattle.

I was a little disappointed in the Amazon sessions.  Last year the sessions were more educational, whereas this year Amazon spent most of their time promoting their services such as Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) and Amazon Webstores.  But I must say the Amazon people were extremely friendly and accessible to sellers.  In all of their talks they stressed how critical sellers were to their success and went out of their way to make us feel welcome and important. Whenever I attend an eBay event, the eBay folks always make the same noises but Amazon doesn’t just talk the talk –they walk the walk.

All in all, despite a few issues the conference was a success and I would recommend anyone selling on Amazon to try and make next year’s conference.  You can get more information at the SCOE Home Page.

Comments

Comment from Stephanie Inge
Time July 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Skip, your comments echo the ones I provided on the Amazon survey that I received today. Sunday was full of Amazon infomercials, instead of education, so that was a huge disappointment for me. Amateurish was a nice way to describe the cheap, Walmart paper binders that had a blank name tag stuck on the front. For $350 entry, I expected a first class operation and agree with you that Ronda needs to hire professionals and learn better organizational skills. The only information I got, was what I managed to get from networking with other Amazon sellers, as well as you and Karen! Overall I had a great time meeting some very nice people and hanging out with old friends and best of all getting an up-close and personal tour of Seattle 🙂

Comment from Gary Overton
Time July 15, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I attended the 1st 2 years of this event. The 1st year we met at a sellers house in Federal Way. I think there were 12 of us there.
Both years I attended we went to AZN headquarters and visited. Both years Jeff Bezos spent some time with us. He was very accessible.
I to was amazed at the difference in the Amazon employees and the eBay employees.
I always felt that the eBay employees were talking down to me but I felt that the AZN employees were interested in what I had to say.
It is a totaly different culture at AZN and eBay and I think this starts at the top.

Comment from Steve Elmer
Time July 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I haven’t been able to attend a SCOE conference yet but I’d really like to. Though I’m sure that some of your comments sting a little, I hope that Ms. Schnieder takes them as constructive criticism and uses them to improve future conferences. She has taken it a long way from the initial meeting of 12 sellers in her home to the success it has become today. An opportunity to meet with Amazon personnel, worthy vendors and especially to interact and learn from fellow sellers is a valuable thing.

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