Show Your Love For Local – December
Amazon may seem like a “big business” that competes with small shop local programs.
But, selling on Amazon can reap huge rewards for small businesses, and GROW’s new partnership with Lincoln’s Hometown Industries is helping businesses succeed on the massive marketplace.
Cammie Kroll, GROW’s IT and Development Coordinator, said Hometown Industries has already helped GROW boost sales of GROW products on Amazon.
“We had dabbled into it before, but their knowledge and research helps us to run ads that always help make sales,” Kroll said.
As an example, Hometown Industries helped GROW double sales of Dorothy Lynch’s four-pack of 16-ounce bottles every week after they started running Amazon ads.
“It got to the point we were having a hard time keeping cases in stock to ship them all,” Kroll said. “And, those sales have maintained.”
When GROW products are shipped to customers through Amazon, GROW takes the opportunity to insert marketing materials for other GROW products and offers other buying options besides Amazon. The goal is to create repeat customers for GROW members.
“We want to help customers love our members’ products as much as we love the products,” Kroll said.
Hometown Industries owners Wesley Gizel and Jan Gierlach are experts at helping businesses increase sales on Amazon. They started their business three years ago part-time, and it quickly grew into a full-time business. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, their business spiked as more customers shopped online and entrepreneurs pivoted to reach those shoppers.
Hometown Industries recently opened a storefront location at 5505 O Street in Lincoln, hired two employees and is looking to add more staff.
Hometown Industries joined GROW Nebraska and started partnering with GROW in the summer of 2020 to boost its member sales on Amazon.
“Amazon is a great way to bring cash into Nebraska,” Gizel said. “If you are selling items, you might as well be on there.”
Small local businesses can continue to serve local clients while also reaching out to a broader customer base by selling on Amazon.
“Amazon is a wonderful way for these local businesses to reach customers all over the United States,” Gizel said. “GROW Nebraska and Hometown Industries are helping these companies build up sales.”
Kroll said Amazon is becoming like a search engine. If products don’t appear on the first page of the search results, sales aren’t as strong as they could be.
“Hometown Industries is helping us get those products visible and widen the marketing so we can help our businesses gain customers they might not otherwise get,” Kroll said.
Gizel said that selling on Amazon may also help a business get its product into large retail chains, which often won’t accept products that don’t have proven sales records.
“Amazon is a wonderful way to break that cycle and prove that you have a product that customers like,” Gizel said.
Gizel has a background in economics, which helps in analyzing Amazon data and trends. Jan is a software developer. They perform tasks such as keyword research and product comparisons and have an understanding of which strategies are most successful to increase sales on Amazon.
Hometown recently helped a pet-toy manufacturer increase sales from $200 a day on Amazon to a minimum of $1,000 a day and sometimes close to $2,000 a day.
“There were no simple tricks involved,” Gizel said. “It took a lot of effort.”
They work with business owners across the United States who sell products ranging from pet toys to auto parts and specialty foods.
GROW Members Benefit
Kroll said all GROW Nebraska members who sell products on Amazon are benefitting from this new partnership with Hometown Industries.
“We view this as an added benefit of your membership,” she said. “We are helping market on Amazon for you. As a GROW member, you get paid Google ads and if you have a product that’s eligible to be on Amazon, you will have paid ads on Amazon.”
Kroll said some members have their own paid Amazon ads, and GROW will not compete with those.
GROW started with a small product line to “get their feet wet” with Hometown Industries, and now GROW has been adding more items to ensure that every eligible member will have Amazon ads.
“We are trying to be all-inclusive,” Kroll said. “It will take a little time to get to everyone, but we are getting close to that point.”
To sell on Amazon, products must have a UPC. GROW can also advise members on the UPC process if needed.
Kroll said GROW has referred individual members who want further help with Amazon to Hometown Industries. GROW staff would be glad to set up a meeting for any member who wants more information about boosting Amazon sales.
“It’s kind of a win-win for everybody since Hometown Industries is a Nebraska business that is starting to grow as well,” Kroll said.
GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.