EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 375 - February 08, 2015 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 14

Sellers Choice 2015 Marketplace Ratings: Amazon

By Ina & David Steiner

Email This Story to a Friend

In January 2015, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 12 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Amazon.com
Year Established: 1995
Description: Fixed Price listings, general merchandise
More Info

Summary:
Amazon came in second place in the 2015 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces. The ecommerce giant came in first place in 2012 and has ranked among the top 4 since 2010 except in 2011, when niche sites helped push it out of the top-five placement.

Amazon received its top score in Ease of Use and its lowest score in Profitability this year - yet still managing to fall third out of 12 marketplaces for Profitability.

A number of sellers commented that Amazon had inadequate seller protection, stating that buyers had figured out how to work the system. "The bad thing about selling on Amazon is that sellers can lose both money and merchandise, because Amazon doesn't require buyers to RETURN the item for refund," said one seller.

Sellers reported again this year that Amazon does not provide adequate shipping reimbursement to sellers.

Sellers also remarked on high fees and low prices - sellers were like "dogs fighting for scraps," one seller put it. But it was clear sellers got the volume of sales that they couldn't get on other marketplaces.

Some expressed frustration at Amazon's gated categories and seasonal restrictions. Another major problem reported was that of errors on product pages, such as incorrect shipping weights, due to sellers being able to modify product pages. "Mistakes happen because false information by a seller that is not knowledgeable ends up in a knowledgeable seller's product listings," said one seller.

Another seller wrote, "I would never shop on this site, so many of my listings were added to by other sellers, and many of them, now, are completely different from the listing I made with a specific UPC code. When contacted Amazon about this, they were not interested in acting on it."

Amazon received a 6 in Profitability; a 6.31 in Customer Service; a 6.35 in Communication; and a 6.99 in Ease of Use. It received a 6.53 from sellers when asked, "How likely are you to recommend Amazon as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?"

Reader Comments:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Amazon allows me to reach a huge customer base that I'd have trouble reaching otherwise; the FBA system has been a huge bonus for my company because we're able to bring in revenue with much lower overhead for labor and shipping.

Amazon communicates and tries to solve problems 2 ways. They talk to you over the phone and they back up conversations and resolutions with email. It is much easier to get things done on Amazon.

It's great exposure but listing items that have never been sold on Amazon (or are not already in the marketplace from another seller), is very cumbersome. I would list WAY more stuff if it was

Amazon is probably our best online venue.

Amazon is the best of all the sites we have sold on. Bottom line, we feel they do not play games with the opportunity that they offer you to be a business owner. You see the results with the effort you put into yourself. Because of them my family are able to sustain what others only promise. Love Being Part of Amazon.

The customer service is excellent. Learning to sell on Amazon is very confusing to me and I still haven't figured it out

Amazon has a great platform but the highest of fees and competes with its own sellers, making profits harder to make.

Amazing experience. Just what you would expect from a professional site.

Amazon is our largest volume venue. But Amazon is also the scariest in that there are no consistent CS actions, some CSs know what you are talking about and are great, others don't have a clue and can really mess you up. It is also scary that you can lose your selling privileges permanently on the whim of a CS rep. Our current defect rate is 0.00% but there are those that have had <1% and have lost their accounts and they never really understood why. Some of their rules make you wonder, ie what you sell has to look like the picture, it looked like the picture when you listed it, but when it sold, someone had changed the picture to match their item that did not match the picture and now you are at fault. They are too Buyer friendly and not Seller friendly. So far things have worked for us, but there have been times we have received hostile emails from them. Scary.

Better class customer base. No problems or threats to cancel account.

I like selling on Amazon, but as a Merchant-fulfilled seller, there are some frustrations when it comes to many items having severely incorrect shipping weights and being unable to change the weight on a per item basis.

I enjoy Amazon since the customers are mostly professional and don't cause any excessive problems as they do on eBay.

Good support. Treated with respect. Thanks.

It is very easy to post and sell items. Using Fulfilled by Amazon - they do all the customer service.

I have been a seller on amazon for almost a year I have 2 products and just got to 6 thousand per month .I love FBA and look forward to adding new products in the future.

Amazon is easy to use as the information is pretty much preloaded. Amazon does not care about its sellers, though. I sell mainly new clothing and Amazon does not allow it.

Amazon has a nice clean site. I sell in the industrial & scientific section which I believe Amazon is still in development mode. I found that it is very difficult to list our items on Amazon due to very restrictive user fields and categories that are not relative to the products we sell. I have noticed improvements over the last few months, so I think they are heading in the right direction.

Very easy to upload a lot of items in short amount of time, fees are a little high, otherwise very happy selling there.

Amazon gets a lot of traffic, so my items normally sell quickly. It is a bit of a process to list an item, not as easy as a lot of sites. I don't use it as much as other sites as I have to wait for my money for several weeks.

Amazon is probably the most profitable marketplace I sell on. But, the fact that I have to use a 3rd party system to effectively manage a large volume of orders and inventory means they have a lot of room for improvement on that side.

Terrific sales but restrictive policies and bizarre customer support - ranges from good to horrible.

No other site delivers the traffic like Amazon. Amazon is so-so at communicating with sellers. While they keep you up to date on daily issues, they are also uber-secretive about so many topics and subjects that you are at times operating in the blind. Fees are still high, but they drive so many sales that it's hard to complain about the fees.

They make it very simple to list used things, rather than having to take pictures of everything.

Amazon has been a great venue to sell on and they always have quick customer service with everything, returns, or if there's a problem with an item or if I am just confused about something, they always are patient, courteous, helpful.

I LOVE selling on Amazon. Simple to use, great seller support. Reasonable and predictable fees. Tons of organic traffic and optional paid traffic as well.

Amazon is a leader in their space, hands down. They make it easy for sellers to sell and ship, and are always ahead of the curve when it comes to new selling innovations.

I've sold on Amazon off and on for years. The last three years in a niche that has made it very worthwhile to pay the professional monthly fee as I sell well over 40 items per month and it means I can also add in new catalog pages for all the items that I need to add in. My sales here are 80-90% more than my other venue that I sell on.

No flexibility for sellers in selling in different categories, no flexibility in dealing with customer issues, unfair and prejudicial standards to maintain a good rating that will influence customers to do business with a seller

I find listing items to sell on Amazon relatively easy because I don't have to upload photos and the shipping prices for the items I sell (mostly books, video games & gaming accessories) are fixed. The navigation of Seller Central is sometimes confusing for me, however, and not as user-friendly as other sites I've sold on. I feel the seller fees are reasonable for the exposure and traffic received by the site. I don't have any issues with Amazon's seller policies and I appreciate that Amazon keeps policy changes to a minimum. I don't keep a large inventory, so I don't use FBA and don't plan to in the future, so I can't speak to their FBA program. I prefer to handle my own packing and shipping and have hands-on accountability for my own products. The only negative I see when selling on Amazon, particularly in the books category, is the inevitable "race to the bottom" that a lot of sellers participate in when trying to out-price each other. There is no way to compete with a book selling for less than a buck and the only way I see those sellers making money is on the fixed shipping costs.

Fees too high. Only paid sellers with stores can sell certain things. Block toy sales at Xmas. Penny sellers of books suck

Amazon blocked my hottest selling items 10 days before Christmas for very weak reasons. Contacting them by email (free) is such a lost cause to exchange useful information. I joined Professional sellers for ($40/month) exactly the reason to speak with a CSR on the phone, and that is very very poor and non consistent information. i.e. Totally useless CSR. I would never shop on this site, so many of my listings were added to by other sellers, and many of them, now, are completely different from the listing I made with a specific UPC code. When contacted Amazon about this, they were not interested in acting... Regarding listing items for sale, They want to keep descriptions short....as a buyer you get very vague information on the product you are buying and many times incorrect, as any seller can add to your listing. (or sell an item on your listing, which is not exactly the same thing).

It is hard to get problems solved when they occur. Shipping allotments are not often inline with the actually ship costs.

The bad thing about selling on Amazon is that sellers can lose both money and merchandise, because Amazon doesn't require buyers to RETURN the item for refund. This happens in cases where buyer simply make complaints directly to Amazon.com instead of contacting seller first, saying things like wrong item was sent, delivery date was late, item is fake, this is a credit card chargeback, etc. and Amazon automatically takes money out of seller's account without requiring buyer to return the item to seller. Some buyers take advantage of this, which sellers lose both money and merchandise.

It is not worth it for small sellers to sell on Amazon (e.g., books). It is not profitable to compete with sellers who sell items at $0.99 or less each.

Amazon continually raises fees, and does nothing to protect their sellers from fraudulent buyers.

They way Amazon refunds (whether out of our pocket or theirs) every customer is silly, customers have learned to order, claim they didn't get it or claim it broke, and get a refund. Don't like that. High fees, FBA gets more hits than 3P.

Fees are too high. Hard to make profitable sale as competitive pricing on Amazon is a race to the bottom.

Their shipping rates are unreasonable and they have too many rules, including no apparel sales unless seller has a big business

The site provides the most support to the buyer. Their feedback from buyers is impossible to navigate and encourages only the negative feedback from buyers to be recorded.

I just haven't had much luck selling on there. Too many others selling for lower prices than I can afford to sell for and the fees seem high.

Would like to be able to set my own shipping costs.

They do not have any phone support for sellers. It's takes a long time to get them to resolve problems by email.

Not having the buyer information for shipping purposes makes this site not as user friendly. The fees are rather high! Not releasing the money immediately is not good business for the seller.

Getting into certain "closed" categories is a nightmare and I think unnecessary. Finding things like the vacation setting is harder than it should be. High fees.

Fees are so high and marketplace is so competitive. It's like a bunch of dogs fighting for scraps.

I don't like that they allow so long for returns. I've had 2 seasonal items returned over a month after delivered because the Holiday was over and the item no longer wanted. Example, a Halloween costume that had been worn for Halloween then returned because no longer needed.

Amazon is not s profitable due to the recent fee increase. Their customer service is still outstanding and they seem to be cleaning up many of the catalog pages with issues.

I feel that it is unfair of Amazon to withhold payment ACH to seller immediately. We pay hefty seller fees to sell on Amazon. Let us be responsible sellers with our customers, without Amazon being "Big Brother".

Amazon charges higher fees, and for jewelry, requires charging $4.99 for shipping for each item. There are a lot of rules to wade through and understand. However, there are a good amount of sales.

Amazon's strategy is to drive prices as low as possible. In the process, sellers are given short shrift. Other vendor's ads are in the middle of my page, and the lowest price regardless of quantity is prominently displayed as well. I've had other vendors buy my stock, split it, take my description and photos and there is nothing I can do about it.

I have rarely used Amazon's customer service as a seller, and when I have, the results were mixed. Sometimes it is excellent, and sometimes...not so much. However, listing ease outweighs a lot of sins.

The good thing about Amazon is that they are very easy and quick to list on and they have one of the two widest exposures. I just wish I could say the same for their customer service that is so inadequate. They are practically greedy thieves when it comes to A to Z claims. They ripped me off a couple of times taking hundreds of dollars out of my account when a customer claimed he returned an item which never arrived back as proven by tracking. You'd think that their highest fees on the market would cover sellers with mishaps, but I guess none of the thousands of dollars I pay them monthly come back for my protection. Such an ungrateful company that is abusing their power in the market.

Amazon is incredibly difficult to get started on. Their system creates an unnecessarily high barrier to entry. Probably the most annoying aspect is not even being able to receive the "buy box" for quite some time on unique items you have created and exclusively offer.

Amazon allows customers to leave negative feedback for the sole reason of "Price too high". A customer should not be able to have that as a reason to leave a seller negative feedback. The price is plainly posted and the buyer makes the choice to buy it. Price of item should ONLY be used in product feedback, not as a negative feedback against a seller, but if an Amazon customer leaves negative feedback about the price, Amazon will not remove it, even if they mark every other criteria as a 5. Their customer support is nearly impossible to reason with as a seller. If there's an issue, the support team's individual person working with you can make an arbitrary decision without any higher Amazon overseer getting involved and looking at the case. The support team and reps over sellers have no higher authority to answer to.

I have created a lot of listings on Amazon and don't appreciate it when other users post their items on my listings and sell their items for much less than mine. Also if there is negative comment on a particular item it makes my item look bad even though someone else sold an inferior product.

I don't like the Amazon platform. I don't want to have to use someone's pictures and description. I also don't like the "race to the bottom" pricing in order to get the buy box, or to have to use Amazon fulfillment just to get seen.

Amazon not is not only easy to use and maintain, but they are very quick to reply to questions and provide a lot of great insight to help their sellers succeed.

I like selling on Amazon. I am new to Amazon and had my account suspended within 2 months for a policy violation. Customer service is non-existent if you make a mistake. It took me over 30 days to get my account re-instated. I only went to the trouble of fixing it because my sales are good on Amazon. My only complaint is their fees are much higher... but they provide more traffic and sales.

I never got paid for one of my sales, and they can't find me to help. They also make you wait for your money too long. This is hard for small sellers.

Their A-Z Guarantee has opened up the blatant theft from unscrupulous buyers out to get their order free. Amazon no longer rules in favor of the seller no matter what. Also Amazon, in the 8 years we have sold, has never raised the shipping fees to the buyer there for making the seller lose even more profit. They also discriminate against 3rd party sellers who do not use their Fulfilled by Amazon when it comes to returns and claims.

Amazon is really designed for selling common items. If your item is not in their database, there is no way to sell it. And your ability to add to (or correct) Amazon's description of the item is very limited.

Very easy to use. When adding a new product to inventory, I find it overwhelming to add every specific detail to the listing. This can be especially time consuming to do for certain electronics. Often I leave the majority of the details blank and refer the buyers to the manufacturers site. Sites like Amazon should import product features/benefits/details when adding a new product when possible.

Amazon was the hardest platform I ever tried. Initially it was OK but went on a downward spiral and I was forced to pull the plug. One HUGE problem is that they mix product information from various sellers and combine information. The result is that sellers lose their individuality. Mistakes happen because false information by a seller that is not knowledgeable ends up in a knowledgable sellers product listings. This is the most absurd thing I have ever seen. I really like Amazon as a buyer but as a seller I was disheartened.

Amazon USED to be a good sales site. But the "gating" of a new category each month and the new dept. of Seller Annoyance coming up with a new roadblock to profitability every time you turn around and the fees constantly going up....

Good marketplace but the seller's performance reports are not reflecting the real facts since they are not considering the seller reasons of refunds or cheater buyers.

Not able to turn a profit with Amazon. Customer Support is non existent. Very hard to speak with a human. Products are overrun with china knockoffs that are claiming to be authentic items and Amazon will not do anything to eliminate or separate them from quality merchandise.

I opened a selling account to sell used auto parts. Amazon told me we could create our own asin because UPC codes do not exist for used parts. Not 5 months into opening our account then amazon requires that all new listings require an existing asin # to be sold on amazon. This halted our advancement of putting new inventory onto Amazon and we are not able to survive or grow on the Amazon site. Amazon is useless to us.

Main issue is Amazon sets shipping rates making it impossible to sell heavier items and have enough for actual shipping costs. They also charge commission on the shipping money.

Fees much too high, almost no customer service for sellers, but listing and selling through Amazon is so streamlined it remains an attractive sales site. Huge traffic volume. I do not even attempt to price my items to compete with other Amazon sellers but still makes sales through the site most days.

I have found Amazon's catalog to be problematic for my products. There is a lot of missing information that is almost impossible to easily correct.

I am a very small seller; therefore I am not allowed to sell "toys" during the big toy season at the end of the calendar year. That really hurts my sales on Amazon. I sell dollhouse miniatures, collectibles for adults, too delicately-made for children, so they are not really toys in the usual sense of the word.

I sell in the collectibles category and they are not really conducive to that. Shipping cost is a problem and the listing form is tedious. They take so much of the selling price that selling small, inexpensive items is not profitable.

Amazon is open to many scammers who know how to work the "buyer centric" system. Customer Support does not have a clue about 3rd party seller policies and constantly sends messages that do not follow Amazon policy. The A-Z system is a major hassle between reps opening cases when it is just a general question from the buyer and Amazon not removing claims that are not seller faulted.

Even though selling on Amazon was very profitable for me, I found myself in disagreement with many of Amazon's rules. For example that sellers do not retain the rights over their images. I stopped selling and my images are still being displayed in search results with the merchandise of others. My customer service experience with Amazon was one of the worst I ever encountered.

I have a big WISH list in that wish that amazon would have the images on the sold items, Wish they would have initial inventory and sold inventory to determine how many have sold when initially listing the item, HELP desk very hard to understand the person on the other end, Love the new BETA for Inventory which does show the images of the items, I love the price comparison ease to change without wasting time, great tool!

Their book catalog is very messed up. They went from not allowing me to add photos or information to requiring it. Many of my oop (out of print) books have disappeared from view. Too much work to get them to reappear. Also, their fees are high.

Amazon audits their sellers by temporarily shutting them down and asking for documented proof of where they are purchasing their inventory from. The shutdown period has that seller's account frozen, sometimes for days or weeks, pending Amazon's completion of the "audit". During that time, buyers are still able to buy that seller's items, but the sellers can't ship them because their seller account is frozen. (How stupid is that?). Amazon should not permit buyers to buy from a seller during an audit period, if they aren't permitting that seller to ship the item yet!

We sell antiques and vintage collectibles and so they do not do that well when I list them on Amazon. Would like to be able to do my own description and photos, don't like using stock photos and descriptions. Vintage items need to be described in detail.

Sellers Choice Awards:
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the EcommerceBytes Blog.


About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of EcommerceBytes.com and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.


You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to EcommerceBytes.com and either link to the original article or to www.EcommerceBytes.com.
All other use is prohibited.