Maryland business owner credits Amazon for being seller-centric

“Amazon understands growth” says Gifts Fulfilled owner, Kim Shanahan, as she recalls the Amazon-owned programs she’s used to build growth.

3 min
June 4, 2024
Gifts Fulfilled Owner, Kim Shanahan

Kim Shanahan is deep in the throws of planning her business strategy for Q3 and Q4 of 2024. Top priority for Gifts Fulfilled, her small business that sells gift baskets, is learning how she can amplify her Amazon sales. Everything we need to do it is there, she said. Amazon created it.

Shanahan said Amazon has made a tangible shift in the last few years to help small businesses, like hers, leverage their own brands in Amazon’s store. For instance, recently, it’s all about sharing your story and Amazon has created ways for her to distinguish Gift Fulfilled from other businesses offering similar products.

Initially when Shanahan started selling in the Amazon store, listings were rudimentary, she said. “They didn’t tell any of our story,” said Shanahan. “It was really just, here’s the product, what’s in it and how much it costs.”

“In the last couple of years, I have noticed a real effort on Amazon’s part to help third-party sellers show that they are a brand themselves,” said Shanahan. “Amazon introduced A+ Content, which gives us a chance to tell more about who we are and why we’re in business and what our product is.”

A+ content is an Amazon service that allows brands to add rich text, image carousels, and video, to bring their brand story to life.

Every basket Shanahan sells, employs someone in the Berlin community that otherwise would not be employed. That’s because, Gifts Fulfilled hires people with disabilities to assemble their baskets, which are then sold in their Amazon store. It’s a story she’s able to share with A+ Content.

Shanahan said she’s leaning into to educating herself on how to use all the tools Amazon provides to sellers to get the “most bang for her buck.” Between new tools like A+ Content and old tools, like the seller dashboard, she’s looking at improving her listings to share more of her brand story, and improve her products based on the customer feedback she has received on previous orders.

“Essentially we’re trying to take what we’ve already achieved on Amazon and just amp it up to the next level to help accelerate the growth of what we’re already doing on the platform.”

That growth, however, comes with a cost. For Shanahan, because her employees require a controlled assembly pace, she needs to buy inventory in August for baskets that will be sold in December. August is when sales are the lowest and capital is hard to come by.

Because bank loans are hard to get, “many small businesses, especially women and minority-owned end up going to credit card debt,” she said, “which ends up putting them out of business, because of the percent you’re paying back on the debt.”

And while students can get $50,000 loans for college without much effort, she countered, it’s much harder for a small business, with a proven track record of success to get a small business loan.

“Small business drives this economy, and if small businesses do not get money, they can’t drive the economy,” said Shanahan.

Amazon Lending she said, was last year’s “Godsend” for Gifts Fulfilled.

“Amazon Lending was truly like, ‘okay, here’s the money that you need and here’s a couple forms and boom, there’s your money.’ It enabled the growth of our company and I was like, ‘okay, here’s a company that understands growth and how you make it happen.’”

“We’re not just a number with Amazon,” she said. “They’re listening to sellers and they are trying to improve that experience for sellers and that’s not just talk, it’s meaningful for Amazon.”
Kim Shanahan, Owner of Gifts Fulfilled

Amazon, she said is filling a gap they know is out there to help small businesses succeed. It’s a seller-centric approach that Shanahan said she sees happening across the board.

Last year, Shanahan attended Accelerate, Amazon’s annual summit for sellers. While she was there, she met with Amazon employees who work to support small business owners on their journey selling with Amazon. She said those one-on-one connections changed her opinion of Amazon on the whole. They’re working towards building a partnership with sellers, she said, becoming more than simply a place to sell.

“We’re not just a number with Amazon,” she said. “Amazon does have a vested interest in our business. They’re listening to sellers and they are trying to improve that experience for sellers and that’s not just talk, it’s meaningful for Amazon.”