For some time, global online retailer Amazon was seen as a massive threat to UK jobs and small businesses. However, it could be argued that a very different picture is emerging.
Though executives of supermarkets may be looking over their shoulder with some alarm, Amazon is providing the UK economy with important boosts on a number of fronts – even farming and rural businesses.
Recent jobs boost in the NW
Amazon’s third fulfilment centre in the North West of England has recently been announced, leading to 1,200 job openings at the new Bolton facility.
This means the online shopping giant has boosted the region’s jobs market with a total of 3,500 new posts in recent times.
The latest development also brings Amazon’s total spend in the UK to £6.4 billion since 2010.
One of the most significant recruitment aspects to Amazon’s growth in the UK is its continuing dependence on human beings to pick, pack and process orders. This is despite the huge investment the company is making in developing cutting-edge robotics technology.
Engineering jobs are among the blossoming Amazon opportunities as its impressive automation still requires the skills of operators and maintenance staff. Not surprisingly for a company now employing around 24,000 staff in the UK, HR vacancies are also being created exponentially.
How Amazon helps SMEs grow
It is also significant that one of the reasons Amazon is creating so many regional fulfilment centres is a clear business strategy to diversify its Marketplace product offering. This will be achieved by working in partnership with small and medium-sized companies in the UK.
SME retailers have opportunities to ride on the tailwind of Amazon’s growth, by using the technology and business support offered to improve their national and international profile.
This is wrapped up too in Amazon’s determination to take on UK supermarkets by growing its fresh food delivery services. Hundreds of smaller shops have been offered the opportunity to get involved, and grow the Amazon e-commerce “shelves”.
By summer 2017, Amazon already had 180,000 different grocery products on sale and it has grown since then.
Vow to boost rural economy
Amazon has also announced that it aims to use the “untapped potential” of the UK’s rural SMEs.
Doug Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager, was recently quoted as saying: “There’s now well over 530,000 rural businesses, which is roughly 24 percent of the UK total, so it’s a big chunk of the economy, far more than you might think in a world in which we always assume everything is urbanised.”
A great example of the potential opportunities on offer from Amazon to smaller retailers is the case study of Second Nature, based in rural Dumfries, Scotland. The Fairtrade home furnishing enterprise increased in size eightfold and grew a buoyant European market by going into partnership with Amazon Marketplace.