Amazon dreams big, long-term in Turkey

Amazon Turkey officials sign partnership with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and Boğaziçi University to offer e-commerce training to SMEs, on Sept. 16, 2019, in Ankara. (TOBB photo)

One year after launching operations in Turkey, is dreaming big for Turkish sellers and planning for long-term investment in the country.

In an interview with Milliyet journalist Serkan Arman, Amazon executives said the company has a seven-year investment road map for Turkey, investing "tens of millions of dollars" in its first year.

A next step in Amazon Turkey's plan is to provide trainings to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Turkey.

Amazon began exporting products from Turkey to Europe in June, opening the door for Turkish SMEs to sell products in dozens of categories to customers in 28 countries across Europe.

To help SMEs take advantage of that open door, Amazon Turkey is partnering with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and Boğaziçi University to offer e-commerce training to SMEs in Turkey.

Amazon Turkey aims to provide 40 training seminars in 20 provinces of Turkey, reaching 2,000 SMEs. Boğaziçi University Lifelong Education Center experts will give the trainings in commerce and industry centers affiliated with TOBB.

"We attach great importance to this cooperation," Boğaziçi University Rector Mehmed Özkan told Arman.

"Our SMEs will win and Turkey will increase its business potential," he said, adding that cooperation model could become widespread.

Amazon Europe Vice President Xavier Garambois, who has worked at Amazon for 17 years, said that SMEs can be very successful in design and production but struggle with distribution. Amazon's strength, conversely, is a customer base all over Europe.

"We have to put these two together," he said.

Garambois said that is not an easy task, which is why Boğaziçi's support is critical.

"This program will be very successful," Garambois said. He explained that SMEs who want to sell their products through Amazon will be included in the training program, which will increase knowledge, experience and confidence. The SMEs who wish to participate in the training will be announced soon, he noted.

When asked if Amazon plans to establish a data center in Turkey, Garambois said the company currently has a cloud computing team in Istanbul.

"The decision to establish a data center should be made according to need," he said, noting that Amazon is waiting to see how its customer base will unfold in Turkey before assessing whether a center should be established.

The most important task in the first year is create a solid foundation by establishing strong relationships with buyers and sellers, Amazon Turkey Country Manager Richard Marriott told Arman.

"We invested tens of millions of dollars in the first year," Garambois noted.

"Companies usually made a two-to-three year plan, looking to the future. For Turkey, we prepared a seven-year plan. We are here for a long-term investment. We are very patient," he explained. eventually plans to begin selling its virtual assistant Alexa and similar projects, but there is no set date, Garambois said.

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