Amazon Wants Rural Businesses to Invest in Online Retail

A study reveals that digital commerce could add more than 360,000 jobs in the next three years

rural amazon online retail mobile
Arthur Rothstein/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

On Wednesday, new research by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—and, importantly, commissioned by Amazon—revealed exactly what Jeff Bezos’s hopes are for America’s Southern states. The study found that if rural small businesses adopt online retail as the way of commerce, then more than 360,000 jobs could be created in the next three years and annual revenues of each business could grow by almost a quarter.

If your business is located south of the Mason-Dixon Line, take heed. This newly published study, based on a survey of 5,300 businesses in rural America, indicates that simply implementing digital practices could grow total revenues by $84.5 billion each year. “The opportunity to successfully start and grow a rural small business in our country is a great example of how technology is positively transforming nearly every aspect of our lives,” said Tim Day, senior vice president of C_TEC, the Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center. This effectively means that any startup with access to the internet and data cloud can successfully sell their wares through Amazon’s infrastructure.

The report is sure to highlight the multiple benefits of online technology on local business, with the South dominating the potential number of added jobs at around 172,000 and the purported value-add estimated at $22.5 billion. Yes, billion with a “b.” What these claims don’t take into account is the lack of internet connectivity in some regions. It also fails to account for people’s lack of online commerce skills. How many business owners across the country know how to launch, operate and maintain an active online commerce store, either through Amazon or otherwise?

While the future of retail will undoubtedly be dominated by e-commerce, Amazon hopes to lead that charge. They’ve gone so far as to sponsor a study supporting their next push: rural regions. Since they’ve dominated in urban markets—most of the 101 million Prime members are city dwellers—they’ve got to look South for growth.  

Maybe cornbread, hush puppies, cheddar grits and buttermilk biscuits will be available on Amazon Prime Now soon. We can only hope.

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