EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2988 - January 28, 2013     2 of 5

Amazon Increases Shipping Credits but Only for Books

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Amazon.com charges buyers for shipping, but it does not pass along the entire amount to third-party sellers. With USPS international rates rising dramatically for low-weight items effective January 27th, and no sign from Amazon that it would increase shipping credits, sellers in Amazon's media categories said they were considering scaling back on international transactions.

In the eleventh hour, some sellers were granted a reprieve. Effective January 25, Amazon increased the shipping credits for Standard International and Expedited International shipping - but only for Books.

Amazon spokesperson Erik Fairleigh confirmed the new credits and said, "Amazon made the decision to adjust the shipping credit to support our Sellers and benefit customers." More information on the new rates is available on Amazon Seller Central. He did not respond to a follow-up question about why Amazon decided to increase shipping credits only in the Books category

A seller of DVDs explained the reason why Amazon may have decided not to increase shipping credits for DVDs, which are $12.29 for Standard International. "DVDs have always gotten a $12.29 international reimbursement. It is because they are lumped in to the movies category, which obviously was dominated by heavier VHS tapes at one time. That's not the case now, but they've never separated VHS and DVD. So the credit there has always been great; now it will be about right."

But sellers say the decision not to change international shipping credits for CDs, which will remain at $6.89, will hurt them. "I'm happy for the book sellers that had their allowance in International Shipping increased, but CD sellers are really getting nailed by the increase," wrote a seller. "What typically costs me $6.12 to ship internationally is now going to be $11.48. The lower weights are where the most dramatic increases (as a percentage) are occurring and music sellers are hit hard. You've shown you listen, so here's hoping we can get a little critical mass and get an increase for International on CDs as well."

An EcommerceBytes reader who sells books on Amazon said the increased shipping credits would be enough to cover the rate increase for Canadian orders. "For me it will be fine as I tend to sell comics and booklets, so I do well on those. But a 12-ounce book to Germany will be close - but it was close with the old rates as well."

However, sellers were not pleased about Amazon's communications. One bookseller said, "Shame on Amazon for keeping us in the dark until the last minute. One woman said that she has spent the last month eliminating the international shipping from her Amazon listings, one at a time. An enormous amount of work, all for nothing. I spent the last few weeks worrying about it."

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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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