MORE than 500 small and medium sized Dorset businesses exported via Amazon last year – and more than 800 used the site as a platform for selling.

The online giant – which has drawn criticism for its impact on independent businesses – has released a report which says it supports tens of thousands of smaller businesses in the UK.

It says small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) accounted for more than 60 per cent of sales via Amazon between March and July this year.

The number of Dorset and SMEs selling on Amazon in 2019 stood at more than 800, up 15 per cent on the previous year. The number of SMEs exporting was above 500, up more than 20 per cent on 2018.

Francois Saugier, vice president of EU seller services at Amazon, said: “Empowering small and medium-sized businesses is at the core of everything we do. We will continue to invest in logistics, tools, and people to support small and medium-sized businesses. Supporting these businesses helps us to create the best shopping experience for our customers.

“Despite this challenging period, selling partners have continued to grow with Amazon. When customers shop on our stores, more than 50 per cent of the products they buy are sold by small businesses.”

The digital giant runs the Amazon Small Business Accelerator scheme, which provides 200,000 companies with free training on a variety of topics to help them start, sustain and grow a business. This month, it is waiving the first three months of professional subscription fees for businesses which want to start selling their products on Amazon.

Amazon Web Services is helping start-ups, customers and partners launch and scale businesses.

Amazon says is investing more than £75million this year to support small businesses around the world through special programmes for Prime Day and the festive season. Third party selling partners, most of which are SMEs, achieved sales of more than 3.5billion US dollars around the world on Amazon Prime Day this year, with British businesses seeing an increase of more than 75 per cent in product sales.