Amazon has quietly made another acquisition.  Multiple tech media outlets report that the online retail platform provider acquired Australian based E-commerce technology start-up, Selz.

The revelation essentially originated from a blog posting authored by Martin Rushe, the founder and CEO of Selz that was written in January which recently surfaced on Twitter:

We have signed an agreement to be acquired by Amazon and are looking forward to working with them as we continue to build easy-to-use tools for entrepreneurs. Nothing is changing for our customers at this time, and we’ll be in touch with customers as and when we have further updates.”

Amazon Air

An Amazon spokesperson has confirmed to multiple outlets including Business Broadcast Network CNBC that the deal has occurred and is closed. No other financial details have been shared.

Selz was founded in 2013 and bills itself as providing small and medium businesses the features needed to start, scale, and manage an online presence including selling products and professional services, “all from one simple place.” Additional services are noted as inventory management, shipping, credit card processing and automatic tax collection and reporting.

The company’s web site lists three levels of pricing that spans a Basic Plan for up to 2 account users for $26 monthly, to an Advanced Plan supporting up to 15 users for $179 monthly. These pricing plans, of course, are likely mute given the acquisition by Amazon. The company’s web site indicates it is not taking on added customer sign-ups at this time.

Supply Chain Matters concurs with others that this move is likely to be part of Amazon’s efforts to directly compete with Shopify, which has garnered a lot of online platform growth in the SMB area during the ongoing pandemic.  The very fact that this announcement seems to have shown up by a fluke, it would imply that this was not to be for immediate public consumption.

As we have noted in our 2021 Prediction reflecting on the explosive growth of online, and our recent editorial commentary reflecting on the change of CEO leadership at Amazon, the online retailer has targeted its more than 2.5 million hosted sellers for additional services. There are building concerns related to Amazon’s current and future relationship with hosted sellers as either a partner or a potential competitor. Account control is an obvious objective as is ownership of customer buying data.

It is further a recognition that Shopify remains a threat to Amazon’s growth plans in the SMB online seller space.

In a Supply Chain Matters blog commentary published in October 2020, Shopify on a Mission to be an Amazon Alternative, we noted a differentiator as being that Shopify does not aim to compete with its merchants but rather seeks to be a platform technology provider for small and growing businesses including availability of customer buying intelligence tools that can identify what customers tend to buy and when. Whereas Amazon seeks total control of all customer buying data, Shopify’s approach is to allow the online merchant the ability to manage its own customer data.  Order fulfillment services can be contracted through a network of white label customer fulfillment centers.

If Amazon’s prior acquisition moves are a gauge, there may well be other stealth acquisitions in this area to avoid the looking glass of competitor’s or regulators. This will be an area to watch in the coming months, especially if the online retail platform provider aims to continue with its aggressive competitive thrusts.

 

Bob Ferrari

 

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