On Amazon Prime Day, great deals aren’t the only story to tell

On Amazon Prime Day, great deals aren’t the only story to tell
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Last year on Prime Day, Amazon customers bought 34.4 million items worldwide — that’s 398 items every second. Two decades before we came up with the idea for Prime Day, we sold our first book to a customer named Mr. Wainwright, who now has a building named after him in our downtown Seattle headquarters. Since then, we’ve expanded from one set of customers — consumers like Mr. Wainwright — to a broad universe of customers, which includes content creators like the authors who self-publish through Kindle Direct Publishing, entrepreneurs who use Amazon Web Services (AWS), and small businesses that sell products through Amazon Marketplace. 

Here in D.C., we’re celebrating Prime Day not only by shopping but by welcoming representatives from each of the customer sets to town, where they’ll be meeting with members of Congress and congressional staff to tell their Amazon stories. 

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This includes entrepreneurs like Ben and Camille Arneberg, a married couple who started a housewares business last year on Amazon called Willow & Everett. They’ll be in town today to discuss how Amazon empowered them to reach a huge audience of customers and achieve success much quicker than they could on their own — they’re among the more than 70,000 entrepreneurs who do sales of at least $100,000 annually on Amazon. And Prime Day is a big day for these small businesses — last year it was the single largest sales day for sellers on Amazon, and this year 30 percent of our Prime Day Lightning Deals will come from third-party sellers. 

For author Hugh Howey, Kindle Direct Publishing was the key to a very successful writing career, allowing him to publish more than 30 books. His science fiction series Silo has attracted legions of fans and turned him into an international bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into 40 languages. He’s in town today to tell his story, as is fellow content creation representative Tara Sorensen, head of kids’ programming at Amazon Studios. She’ll be meeting with members and staff of the Senate Education Committee to discuss how she and her team develop children’s programming for Prime Video. 

Our AWS team will be meeting today with members of the Virginia delegation to discuss how cloud computing is being leveraged by startups, enterprises and other organizations in the commonwealth, and how businesses, educational institutions and government agencies are improving their cybersecurity posture by adopting commercial cloud services. The group will specifically discuss a new collaboration with MACH37, a program that helps to launch cybersecurity product companies in Virginia and further establish the state as the cybersecurity capital of the nation. 

In addition to inventing for our four customer sets, our teams are hard at work inventing for our communities and our planet, too. Just over two years ago, we set a long-term goal to run our global AWS cloud infrastructure on 100 percent renewable energy. We’re proud to say we’re on track to achieve 40 percent this year and are also hard at work on sustainability goals that will include Amazon’s facilities worldwide, including our fulfillment centers. Kara Hurst, who leads Amazon’s sustainability efforts, will be on Capitol Hill today to talk about these initiatives, as will Reid Spolek, a renewable energy expert for AWS. 

We’re also inventing new programs with our employees in mind. Career Choice allows Amazon associates to get degrees in in-demand fields by taking classes that are 95 percent prepaid by us. We target the program to Amazon’s hourly workforce — folks for whom a door like this might otherwise be difficult to open — and we prepay for classes in in-demand fields regardless of whether they’re relevant to a career at Amazon. Today, Juan Garcia will spend time on Capitol Hill talking about our program to open-source this idea so that other companies can use it for their own employees. With more than 6,000 students and counting, we want to share what we’ve learned. 

Our customer-obsessed, long-term and invention-driven approach extends to our policy efforts here in D.C. — whether it means advocating for long-term legal and regulatory flexibility that allows us to keep innovating for our customers, or simply sharing ideas about programs like Career Choice and our commitment to hiring veterans. Prime Day is a celebration of what we’ve been able to achieve both for and because of our customers, and we’re excited today to bring the festivities to D.C. 

Huseman is vice president of public policy at Amazon.