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Sarah Tesar – GM Head of Seller Growth and Success at Amazon

How online retail helps create an equal playing field for women

Entrepreneurs are not new, but the growth of online has empowered people who want to be their own bosses and run their own retail business.

Not only does an online store enable you to reach a large customer base, but it also helps even the playing field, with less start-up capital required and the ability to work when it suits you. 

Perhaps these benefits are some of the reasons why the number of women entrepreneurs on the rise. A recent Accenture report revealed women now represent 36 per cent of Australian small business owners, compared with 31 per cent in 2001.

The rise in e-commerce and the shifting nature of how people want to work has ultimately opened a key opportunity for women-owned small businesses to accrue the flexibility and gender-neutral benefits afforded in retail. 

Supporting women-owned businesses to succeed in retail

Despite the growing number of women-owned small businesses, there is still a way to go in evening the playing field. And strong support networks play a key role.

As the lead for seller growth and success at Amazon Australia, my role involves supporting these businesses to succeed via marketing, education and programming, while thinking of innovative solutions to improve their experience.

An example of a women-owned small business, who sells via amazon.com.au, that has been able to accelerate her business based on a strong support network is Quash. 

Motherhood proved to be the seed for the founder of Quash Naomi Roberts’ career change, and it’s through fellow ‘mumpreneurs’ that Naomi has found the strength to navigate the highs and lows of running her own business. The Sydney-based mother of three, founded Quash as the result of trying to find a solution to mosquito bites and now sells across Australia using Amazon.

The women owners of Mumamoo also had a similar experience, identifying a gap in the baby formula category after having children of their own. Originally selling their products to their local community in Adelaide, the women now sell throughout Australia and are looking at going global with our support. 

Flexibility is an enabler of a gender-equal workplace

The pandemic opened our eyes to more flexible ways of working, with many now craving the flexibility and level of work-life balance offered over the past three years. Workplace flexibility is a key enabler of gender equality, as Australian Government research demonstrates the impact that flexibility can have on promoting diversity and encouraging women to progress through the pipeline into more senior roles.  

While most businesses are looking at how to create this flexibility, a large portion still have a way to go, leading many professional women to explore the benefits of what entrepreneurship has to offer, particularly through online stores. 

Online retail fosters an environment of flexibility, as women can work within the hours that suit and from the confines of their own home, while they juggle other aspects of their lives. Through selling in stores such as Amazon, women-owned small businesses are afforded the logistical and marketing support of a global entity, so they have more time to innovate within their business and on their products and ideate ways to continue driving their own success. 

Melbourne-based small business Alg Seaweed, led by Sarah Leung, is a key example of a female entrepreneur who has turned to e-commerce entrepreneurship to support better workplace flexibility. 

While a successful brand now, Sarah’s journey to turn her business dreams into a reality wasn’t without its lows. Juggling two young children with a fledgling company, the entrepreneur had to overcome the conflicting demands of both. Selling her product via Amazon.com.au and utilising the Fulfilment by Amazon service, Sarah was better able to reach this level of flexibility and create a successful, thriving business. 

Online retail creates a gender-equal playing field

Previously, business has been heavily based on workplace relationships. Therefore, if men are the majority, then the relationships are man-to-man, creating a potential bias and making it harder for women to break through. E-commerce on the other hand, helps create a level playing field for all involved. Removing the dependency of relationships, selling online allows everyone and anyone to play.

Throughout my own career, I have been exposed to the culture of the ‘boys club’. Since working at Amazon, I have experienced the support of my mentors, sponsors, and people around me, including my male boss who doesn’t see gender and diversity as something that should impact progression. Through the skills I have developed in my role, I have been able to support inspiring women-owned small business who are new to the world of retail to rapidly scale their business through the infrastructure and tools set up by Amazon. 

My favourite part of my job is speaking and interreacting with sellers, empowering them to build a company that works for them and overcome the hurdles of being a business owner, particularly while juggling motherhood.

Online stores have a key role to play in breaking the bias in business, as it provides a platform to empower women entrepreneurs to embrace their diversity and take pride in their ventures. It presents opportunities for greater flexibility, affordability, and a gender-equal playing field. Although the workplace may still be male dominated now, the future of business is moving towards a more diverse playing field through the power of online retail.

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Sarah Tesar

Sarah Tesar

Sarah Tesar is the GM Head of Seller Growth and Success at Amazon.

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