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Economy & Innovation

Intelligence Squared Debate: Is Amazon Good for Small Business?

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Intelligence Squared U.S.

Monday, December 20, 2021 at 9 PM

Amazon has come a long way since online book sales. In fact, when it comes to revenue, Jeff Bezos’ creation is the world’s biggest internet-based company. But what makes the "everything store" so ubiquitous? In large part, it’s the small and medium-sized businesses that use the platform to sell their goods. This year, more than 1.9 million of these businesses participated in its marketplace, which accounted for some 60 percent of Amazon's retail sales. But was it ultimately good for them? On one hand, Amazon opens up a truly global market to smaller retailers. It also offers massive logistics support — such as processing payments, storing inventory, and shipping. But on the other, the tech giant's immense market power makes it a gatekeeper between retailers and consumers. That often means hefty fees for prime placement or what some sellers complain are the costs of superfluous services. Critics also rail against Amazon’s use of its own private label brands that can be weaponized to undermine competitors. In the midst of this historic transition in shopping, we ask: Is Amazon good for small business?