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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1664 - November 14, 2007 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

Amazon Sellers Gear up for Major Inventory Change

By Ina Steiner
November 14, 2007

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Booksellers on Amazon.com's Seller Soapbox discussion board were preparing for the worst after reading of the marketplace's plans to clean up inventory listing guides called ASINs. Amazon.com told sellers it would begin merging duplicate ASINs for the same books beginning November 13, 2007.

ASINs are "Amazon Standard Identification Numbers" used to identify a particular item, similar to the ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) assigned to books by publishers. Book titles have unique ISBNs based on bindings (such as hardcover versus paperback) and editions. Sellers can create new Product Detail Pages for items not listed in the Amazon.com catalog - in the book world, this may be a book published before ISBNs were used.

While many sellers agree there is a need to clean up the ASINs, they question the timing of the move - during the busy holiday shopping season. In fact, the discussion thread with seller comments is sarcastically titled, "Seasons Greetings from Amazon" (http://tinyurl.com/yq5fax).

Sellers fear that making such a major change on the site could lead to technical issues or glitches. Others fear Amazon.com will make mistakes in merging the ASINs - and fear that Amazon might not support them in any buyer claims resulting from mix-ups.

A seller from Indiana going by the handle Webebuyers wrote on the Soapbox board, "What everyone is afraid of is Amazon combining say a paperback edition listing with a hardback edition listing. Then when a buyer comes along and buys yours, he gets the wrong item, even though it was listed correctly when you first posted it for sale."

Another seller with the handle "danbooks4" wrote, "I have spent hundreds of hours creating product pages for books, and in almost all cases adding photos. Soon I will find out how much of that was wasted time."

Sellers are allowed to create new ASINs in certain other categories on Amazon.com (http://tinyurl.com/ys9m7m), but Monday's announcement applies only to book ASINs.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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