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September 27, 2012

Amazon Lending - Amazon starts loaning capital to sellers to help them scale

Amazon_lending
Sellers are reporting that Amazon has started an interesting new program called Amazon Lending from Amazon Capital Services Inc. (at amazoncapital.com which redirects to amazonservices.com for now).  
Sellers are receiving pretty compelling letters like this:  (included word for word except for <> where I have made changes to make it anonymous.
---------------begin real letter sent to retailer--------------------------
Dear <large amazon seller>,

Amazon is always looking for ways to help our sellers grow. We are excited to announce a new service: Amazon Lending by Amazon Capital Services, Inc.

Based on your Amazon selling performance you are pre-qualified for a loan up to <XXX see below>. Use these funds to purchase inventory and increase your sales on Amazon.com.

How the Amazon Lending loan works:

  • Register for a loan. Sign in with your Selling on Amazon Primary Account holder user id and password.
  • If approved, the funds will be advanced to your Amazon Seller Account within approximately five business days, and we will initiate a disbursement to your bank account on file.
  • Your Amazon Lending monthly payment will be automatically deducted from your Amazon Seller Account.

Go to Amazon Lending to complete your loan registration. You will need to sign in with your Selling on Amazon Primary Account holder user id and password. You may also sign into your Seller Central Account, look for the Amazon Lending offer in the right hand column of the home page and follow the links to “Learn more” and “Register.”

If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

This offer expires on <30 days after email received>. Registration for Amazon Lending is by invitation only.

---------------end real letter sent to retailer--------------------------

A couple of observations:

  • A lot of sellers are really responding to the "Amazon is always looking for ways to help our sellers grow" - it's great to hear that and clearly Amazon is putting their money where their mouth is ;-)
  • The interest rate on these loans is 13% which is pretty expensive, but with a four day clearance, this is definitely cheaper than credit cards and faster/easier than banks, so may fill a big hole for sellers. Note that the 13% is what we've seen offered across a couple of sellers, there could be some variance there that we haven't seen - sound off in comments if you are seeing different rates as that would be interesting to know.
  • There are requirements in the loan to deploy the capital to Amazon sales vs. other channels - which makes sense as you are getting a loan from Amazon and it's affiliates.
  • One of our long-standing recommendations to sellers is to diversify and avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.  While we think this is a novel program from Amazon, consider carefully whether it makes sense for your business for your distribution partner to also be your lender.
  • If you are looking for an independent source of loans, there's a company called Kabbage that is making loans and (full disclosure) a ChannelAdvisor partner.

A number of customers are planning to take advantage of the offer and we'll keep you posted on their experience.

 

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