From the Editor - January 19, 2014
By Ina Steiner
The ballot for the 5th annual Sellers Choice Awards is now open! We had a record turnout and our readers have nominated the top sixteen marketplaces, and now you can rate them in four categories: profitability, customer service, communication and ease-of-use. Take the survey now via SurveyMonkey.com.
We realize that sellers will put up with shortcomings of a marketplace if they're getting brisk sales, so we also ask you to indicate how likely you are to recommend each marketplace as a selling venue to a friend or colleague. One of the best features of the Sellers Choice Awards are the comments sellers leave - these provide great insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the online marketplaces.
If you are keeping up with daily ecommerce news through the EcommerceBytes Newsflash newsletter, then you are aware that we've kicked off our annual Online Selling Trends feature for 2014. This year for the first time we also asked some sellers for their perspective. Here's the latest, and the next installment will be published in tomorrow's Newsflash.
Also of interest are recent stories about a photo tool for merchants called RotaryView and a free marketplace called Square Market - see my interview with Square co-founder Jack Dorsey, who also co-founded Twitter, following his keynote address at the National Retail Federation Big Show conference in New York City last week.
eBay was also attending the Big Show and announced a service in response to Amazon's growing network of fulfillment centers. The service, called ship-from-store, lets brick-and-mortar retailers "quickly turn their physical retail locations into virtual distribution centers."
There are also reports that eBay will launch a new section on its marketplace called The Plaza. The rumors came on the heels of news that eBay lost its president of eBay Enterprise, Chris Saridakis, who resigned abruptly last week. The Plaza is reportedly a separate section on eBay Marketplaces just for big brands - feel free to comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.
eBay will be announcing fourth-quarter earnings this week, and Amazon next week, so we'll soon have an idea of what kind of holiday shopping season marketplace sellers experienced - keep an eye on the EcommerceBytes Blog for the announcements.
Amazon, though notorious for being tight-lipped, recently released some data about Amazon third-party merchant sales - it's a very interesting read if you're an online seller - see FBA Helps Amazon Break a Billion in 3P Merchant Unit Sales.
Amazon's fulfillment centers provide it with a competitive advantage beyond giving it the ability to ship goods quickly to customers. They also allow the company to offer a much greater range of goods through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) than it ever could on its own, while bearing little risk. It's up to the FBA merchant to pay storage space and ultimately pay to dispose of non-movers.
Nevertheless, merchants are eager to use FBA in order to reach Amazon customers - the number of active Marketplace sellers using the FBA service grew more than 65% worldwide in 2013 compared to the previous year. Julia Wilkinson takes a closer look at Amazon FBA in today's issue by consulting a panel of Amazon selling experts - a highly recommended read whether or not you sell on Amazon or through FBA.
Also in today's issue, Greg Holden takes a look at a payment processing service growing in popularity - Stripe.com. Michele Alice presents Polish Pottery in Collectors Corner, and we round out the issue by hearing from readers in Letters to the Editor.
Please remember to take a few minutes to complete the Sellers Choice Awards and let us know what you think of the marketplaces on which you sell.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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