How certified small and diverse sellers achieve growth with Amazon Business

How certified small and diverse sellers achieve growth with Amazon Business

Ravenox is an American rope manufacturer and certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business. Founded in 2012 by Master Gunnery Sergeant Sean Brownlee, a special operations Marine with over two decades of continuous service, Ravenox now has one of the best-selling ropes in the United States.

In addition to its hard-working staff and loyal customers, Brownlee credits Ravenox’s success to its online procurement strategies. Brownlee shared that “Amazon Business has helped us find new buyers, expand into new product areas, improve our customer service, and sell more products. Ultimately, the partnership has made us a better, more profitable business.”

By embracing digital procurement, Ravenox rose to the top 1% of all Amazon third-party sellers in 2019 and is still a top Amazon Business selling partner. With Amazon Business, Ravenox dedicates fewer resources to time-consuming offline selling efforts—and more time on elements crucial to building a better business in 2022, including product innovation and customer service improvements. In turn, buyers are able to boost their procurement-related corporate social responsibility initiatives by supporting more small and diverse-owned businesses like Ravenox.

Digital procurement helps Ravenox reach consumer, business, and government buyers

While Ravenox has always sold direct to consumers, a significant portion of its current business comes from working with commercial and government buyers.

Last year, the U.S. federal government spent 145.7 billion procurement dollars exclusively with small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Procurement spend devoted to certified businesses is increasing in the commercial sector as well, according to Amazon Business data. Selling to large government and B2B customers is a significant way for small and diverse-owned suppliers to gain sizable, repeat business. As numbers in this area grow, more companies are following in Ravenox’s footsteps and establishing digital procurement offerings to attract new revenue streams.

There’s a good reason why. As a certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business, offline selling puts the onus on Ravenox to find and advocate for related procurement opportunities. Brownlee says, “As a U.S. Marine, I was responsible for government procurement in Afghanistan. When starting out with Ravenox, I found it extremely difficult to sell to the public sector even with my extensive knowledge of the purchasing process.”

Thankfully, digital procurement alleviates burdens placed on Ravenox and other small businesses. Instead of creating personalized proposals for each public sector opportunity, sellers can create a profile page detailing all of their product listings and certifications. Buyers can then use advanced search and filter features to connect with products and suppliers of any certification status.

“Amazon Business has helped us get on the radar of so many more business and government buyers,” says Brownlee. “The biggest benefits of online procurement are the improved visibility, awareness, and brand recognition Ravenox has earned.”

Another benefit of digital procurement is that it mimics how buyers already shop in their personal lives. For B2B organizations also selling their products in retail spaces, like Ravenox, the same customer reviews can populate for commercial and government buyers. Buyers across all sectors benefit from having access to a familiar store with ample reviews, and Ravenox benefits from the increased visibility among current and future customers.

In fact, Ravenox has converted several personal buyers into business buyers. Many of its customers have purchased products for personal use—and then upon discovering Ravenox’s certification status—gone on to make larger purchases for their organization. Amazon Business’ procurement portal helps buyers connect dots in this fashion, and then easily make purchasing decisions in line with their unique goals.

3 key takeaways for certified sellers

Digital procurement with Amazon Business equips sellers with the tools, resources, and audiences to grow their businesses. But it’s up to sellers themselves to step up to the plate and take advantage of those opportunities. Brownlee has a few pieces of advice to help other small and diverse sellers maximize their digital procurement investments:

  1. Pursue certifications. “While pursuing and maintaining certifications is time-consuming, it’s well worth the effort. Doing so helps you identify more selling opportunities and set higher standards for how you do business,” says Brownlee.

    In addition to leveraging your online procurement partner’s resources, Brownlee recommends reaching out to your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for further guidance.

    He adds, “Through Amazon Business, Ravenox is now certified under six different categories, several of which we wouldn’t have known about or applied for without Amazon Business’ resource center. It made it easy to quickly sort through information about dozens of different credentials.”

  2. Understand and embrace high standards. “If you’re diligent and follow the best practices and policies set by Amazon Business, you’ll be successful. The potential for growth is unlimited,” says Brownlee.

    To provide the best customer experience possible, digital procurement channels set specific policies for customer service responsiveness, delivery timeframes, and more. Ultimately, these standards establish clear expectations for both buyers and sellers, minimizing friction between the two groups.

    “Amazon Business has very high standards for themselves and its selling partners. These parameters are just smart business practices,” he adds. “Amazon Business’ guidelines ultimately made us a better company and standardized our digital experiences, helping improve our overall customer retention and loyalty rates.”

  3. Take advantage of data. Brownlee says, “Thanks to Amazon Business’ robust reporting and analytics capabilities, we’ve discovered new customer niches and product offerings for our business.”

Leveraging online procurement means suppliers can reach a more diverse audience than they could target via offline selling. This allows sellers to develop a broader picture of demand for their products and for similar products they don’t currently offer, and then quickly adjust business decision-making accordingly.

“Thanks to online selling, we’ve discovered numerous untapped customer demographics and niche product lines we never would have dreamed about alone,” adds Brownlee. “When I first started this business we only sold rope. Now we sell hardware, pet products, and much more.”

Sellers and buyers win together with digital procurement

Ravenox is just one of many small business success stories happening on Amazon Business every day. Ultimately, digital procurement helps sellers improve visibility with business and government buyers to grow their organizations. And it helps buyers easily find and support certified sellers to meet internal D&I goals or external federal requirements.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to boost your business through online selling and gain access to over one million B2B buyers, visit Amazon Business.

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