Amazon is creating another app store, but it's not for consumers.
Instead, the online retail giant will for the first time put its seal of approval on a bunch of third-party apps intended for professional sellers with its new Marketplace Appstore. It launches to sellers starting Monday, the company said. CNET reported on plans for the app store earlier this month.
The new app store, which will be available in North America through Amazon's main hub for sellers called Seller Central, will include tools to handle pricing, inventory, advertising and other needs for pro sellers. The app store will be introduced to sellers slowly to ensure a smooth rollout.
"Many developers have innovated and created applications that complement our tools and integrate with our service," Amazon said in a statement Monday. "We created the Marketplace Appstore to help businesses more easily discover these applications, streamline their business operations, and ultimately create a better experience for our customers."
While the new app store will exist behind the scenes from customers, it could provide a way for more sellers to grow on Amazon, ensuring that shoppers will continue to have plenty of stuff to buy on the site. For developers of these tools, the new app store could offer them a major boost to their business, putting their tools in front of an audience of over 1 million US small- and medium-sized businesses that use Amazon to sell their wares. And, for those sellers, the new resource could reduce the annoyance of having to sift through all the different kinds of tools available to them.
"Ultimately, that's what we're all trying to do, is help sellers sell more products on Amazon," said Jeff Cohen, chief marketing officer and partner of Seller Labs, which will provide its advertising and customer communication tools through the app store.
His 5-year-old company has been marketing itself using Google and Facebook ads, seller conferences and LinkedIn posts, but getting in the app store could become a powerful channel to finding new customers, he said.
The store is invite-only for developers, so any company interested in joining will need to submit a request and go through an Amazon review. The app store is currently free for developers to join and use, Amazon said. The company offers a similar portal of third-party services for international selling, called the "solution provider network."
The app store is connected to Amazon's broader push over the last year to build stronger ties with developers of seller tools, Cohen said. That work culminated in both the app store and a new advisory board called the Marketplace Developer Council, which officially launched a few weeks ago.
Ideally, the council and app store should bolster communication between Amazon and these developers, helping both improve their work for sellers on the site.
Cohen, whose company is part of the council, conceded that if developers give Amazon more insights into their businesses through the council, there's always a danger that Amazon would use some of their best ideas in its own development work. But, he added, he hopes the relationship will become symbiotic, with both sides working to help each other.
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