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5 Key Takeaways from the PROSPER Show for Amazon Sellers

  • Ecommerce
  • February 12, 2016 | Katherine Gustafson

Guest Post by James Thomson, cofounder of The PROSPER Show.

This week, the inaugural PROSPER Show for Amazon Sellers welcomed 725 attendees to Salt Lake City, Utah for a two-day educational conference about all aspects of selling on Amazon.

Participants heard from 90+ speakers in 34 presentations and moderated panel discussions, each featuring three to seven competing solution providers (third-party companies help sellers manage expansion into new marketplaces).

Amazon sellers attending this educational event learned a whole lot of important information and gathered many new ideas. As one of the organizers of this event, I was pleased to see such a lot of high-value advice enriching those who came to learn.

Here are my five key takeaways from the event.

1. Outsourcing is essential for growing one's enterprise

Sellers are definitely interested in learning how to outsource key business operations. While they know they want to scale their businesses faster, they recognize that they can’t do everything themselves. So it’s best to let the experts take over certain business operations, like 3PL/warehousing, day-to-day operations, and accounting/book-keeping. This leaves sellers able to focus their efforts on the highest-value efforts like catalog research and profitable product sourcing.

2. Sales tax compliance issues will put many out of business

The overwhelming proportion of Amazon sellers remain out of compliance on state tax nexus. The rapid geographic build-out of FBA, combined with complex and constantly changing tax rules, have resulted in most sellers not properly accounting for the full implications of tax nexus. This constantly accruing liability may soon surface and result in back-tax penalties so great that many sellers will no longer be able to survive for long.

3. A panel approach best informs sellers

While most conferences feature the “one-speaker, one-microphone” approach to presentations, PROSPER attendees heard a wide range of ideas on specific topics. As organizers, we found that a panel discussion involving multiple competitors and a strong-willed moderator is considerably more effective at getting the facts and differences of opinion to surface for attendees to hear. Competitors want to show their relative advantages, while effective moderators help to guide the discussion to make sure it remains specific and full of useful, actionable information applicable to sellers of experience levels.

4. PROSPER Show attendees are sophisticated

Our sponsors found our attendee base to be overall much more sophisticated, informed, and inquisitive than the average Amazon seller. Using its approach of “education before sales,” the PROSPER Show attracted a disproportionate number of attendees who want to address their gaps in knowledge. We helped them do so by organizing thoughtful presentations, followed by in-depth solution-oriented discussions with our exhibitors.

5. Disclosure is key for gaining the trust of our audience

PROSPER took the approach of requiring full disclosure from our presenters: Each was required to disclose in writing any potential conflicts of interest s/he might have with other solution providers. This ensured that attendees could read up on these potential conflicts and not be unknowingly pointed in the direction of specific solutions that would financially benefit the speaker.

Stay tuned for announcements on upcoming PROSPER events in 2017.


Avalara Author
Katherine Gustafson
Avalara Author Katherine Gustafson