EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 387 - February 14, 2016 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 0

Sellers Choice 2016 Marketplace Ratings: Amazon

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2016, 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.


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Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:
Year Established: 1995
Description: Fixed Price listings, general merchandise
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Amazon came in third place in the 2016 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 came in second place out of 10 marketplaces for Profitability. However, aside from profitability, its scores this year were lower than last year.

Top on sellers' list of Amazon's positive aspects is the volume of traffic and sales, and for the most part, sellers say it's easy to use. Even a seller with some criticisms of the site said, "The positive part is the huge buyer traffic Amazon have on its website and the very complete seller platform. That is the reason I continue with them."

Among the top challenges are commission fees and competition, which both can take a toll on profitability. "I make money off the site, but everything sells usually below market price," wrote one seller.

Some sellers were dissatisfied with "shipping credit limitations." There were a few sellers who said they didn't like that Amazon competed with sellers.

Another challenge voiced by sellers: not enough protection, with some saying the marketplace always sided with buyers.

A sore point for some sellers was Amazon's policy of restricting many sellers from selling merchant-fulfilled items in certain categories during the holiday shopping season.

Sellers mentioned their struggle with Amazon's catalog - it's difficult to fix inaccurate information on existing product pages, some said, and some cited problems with product pages changing and even merging. "I sell used items and they are constantly merging my items with totally different items," a seller wrote. "For example, they will merge a service manual with a parts catalog, leaving both listings useless. They will change your title, picture and/or description without notice and always for the worse it seems. They will merge original items with reproduction items, that just can't be done. Amazon works pretty good if they would just quit fiddling with my listings. I spent way too much time with customer support getting my listings straightened out again when I could be listing new inventory."

Some sellers pointed to having to compete with counterfeit goods. The problem of piggybacking on seller's unique branded listings was also mentioned, and one seller wrote, "Amazon consistently allows counterfeiters to steal our original designs and product photographs."

While many sellers expressed satisfaction with customer support, Amazon got some critical reviews of its seller support and seller performance departments. "Amazon's seller "support" is atrocious," a seller wrote. "When they screw up stuff it is like pulling teeth with tweezers to get it fixed."

Some sellers of vintage items said Amazon wasn't a suitable marketplace for those items, such as the seller who wrote, "I sell mostly vintage and it's hard to sell that on Amazon. The listing forms are too long and detailed. I just don't think it's a good fit for what I sell." Another said, "It should be easier to sell vintage items and choose how you want to ship and what you want to charge for that."

And Amazon's new marketplace for handmade goods got a few mentions, with one seller saying Amazon needed to do more to promote the category.

One seller warned that without good business acumen, it is very easy to stumble on Amazon and go out of business.

Amazon received a 6.51 in Profitability; a 5.84 in Customer Service; a 5.93 in Communication; and a 6.34 in Ease of Use. It received a 5.83 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 has been my best venue and I have grown exponentially since I have started here in March.

I've always had a seamless experience using Amazon. Any issues are quickly dealt with.

Amazon has made a big difference in my sales.

Amazon is such a huge brand name that it is obligated to keep up its reputation. They offer great services to both sellers and customers.

Amazon is very easy to list items and has a high traffic of buyers.

I've been selling on Amazon for only a few months. The actually uploading experience is very involved. The fees are ok. Customer service is amazing as a seller and buyer.

Easy to list items. Easy navigation in seller central.

Great success on Amazon, very professional site and easy to use.

Amazon is great. Easy to use and great customer care.

Very successful, and customer support has always quickly responded to my questions. Shipping is easy too. Very happy with Amazon.

Fast/Easy to list, broad customer based, realistic rules on returns, better seller protections, and huge sales potential.

Fulfillment warehouses are extremely important for growth of my business & the millions of buyers on the site is worth every penny we pay.

Amazon has been a breath of fresh air to list, and sell on their site. They treat their sellers fair, and I have never had a problem that they haven't been readily available to help with. And sales are better with Amazon, than any where else I have sold.

Amazon is, by far, the best marketplace right now.

Amazon has a complete package system that works well. Lots of traffic so pricing is good. And when I get my money, there is no other fees after the fact. All the selling and shipping fees are taken out at the time of and included with the transaction.

Amazon is now the main venue I use. Nowhere else comes close in terms of sales. I feel like everyone now pretty much just shops on Amazon.

It is my most profitable site...and I only sell books and record albums.

Really like the notifications on stock levels. Ease of communication with buyers when issues arise.

Ease of use. Up front knowledge of what I will make on each item. Good customer service, even on a Sunday.

Last year I only used Merchant Fulfilled, and profitability ranked third on all of the venues I sold. 2016 I have started selling FBA and hope that sales will catapult to the top of the list by the end of the year.

It is so easy to use, with so many items already in its vast database/catalog. Takes seconds only to list many things.

I sell on Amazon Handmade and feel they need to do a lot more to publicize and promote handmade.

Very friendly customer service, but listing is very complicated. Vacation setting is also very difficult

Slow to sell, but a lot more convenient that auction sites, and you don't get charged for listing. Annoying having toys & games blocked over Christmas and having to manually relist.

They get me more sales than all the others combined. But are hard to work with.

Shipping credit limitations & high fees detract from an otherwise excellent selling experience.

Sometimes when you email seller support it is like you are talking to a wall when you get the reply. Other times it is very good.

Amazon's fees are high, but I like that the listings fulfilled by seller do not expire.

Amazon is working well for us but still needs work on how they deposit sellers' funds

Amazon is a great way to sell products but it is difficult to speak with anyone and difficult to get your products listed correctly. Other sellers have the opportunity to change listings and sometimes they put in wrong information which can come back to bite you.

Amazon is great if you are Big Box, but if you have small items or selling items not new with upc codes it is hard to design your page to sell the item.

It's a good place to sell newer items on. They tend to sell for more and faster than other sites. Their communication with sellers is hit or miss. You can randomly get shutdown for a violation without warning and it takes a long time to try and get reinstated if they made a mistake, which is also hit or miss regardless of the proof you can show sometimes. It seems mostly automated.

Excellent traffic but the seller support system is hard to deal with.

Amazon is not perfect, but they are up front about the massive amount of details that they require or will happen. There are not a lot of surprises.

For the most part, Amazon is easy to use, but it can be quite difficult to be a seller as the seller is at the bottom of the totem pole and the customer is first followed by the rules of selling.

It definitely is best site for volume of sales, but expensive to make a better profit. Things work well, but some things are difficult to learn how to do, although Amazon has most processes well documented.

I do not like how they exclude the selling of certain items during the Christmas Holidays. Some items are blocked from sales and if we want them back up after the holiday it is additional work to do so. Cannot choose the amount of shipping charge.

Amazon is a great marketplace to make money but it is difficult to break the $1 million revenue point. Amazon as a company does not help you. I would not recommend others to sell on Amazon because without good business acumen it is very easy to stumble go out of business.

Since this is a Catalog Marketplace, it is difficult to fix inaccurate information and descriptions of items that already exist. No user friendly in terms of resolving these types of issues.

Amazon is a great if your item fits exactly into their predefined category (say a hard cover book, "acceptable" condition), but not so well if it doesn't (like say a cell phone, in "acceptable" condition (The category does not exist - all cell phones have to be listed as "like new").

Amazon does not treat sellers as their customers. They rely too much on their support structure instead of implementing effective tools and processes to solve common problems. Their support does not do any problem solving. The seller basically has to figure out the solution on their own and tell support exactly how to fix it.

Amazon has now become a haven for Chinese counterfeit that piggyback on our listings. We manufacture all of our own products, but Amazon consistently allows counterfeiters to steal our original designs and product photographs.

Amazon's Seller Account screen is difficult to use. Specific financial info - especially regarding fees charged, account balance, and pending transfers - are unduly difficult to find. Too many hoops to jump through for basic info. There's no way to print out a shipping label from the Invoice Page even though Amazon is tracking and rating me for how quickly I ship an item.

Commissions are too high, Seller Support reps are deteriorating in quality

They have made it almost impossible for small sellers, pushing people to use FBA or not letting list their items.

Amazon seller fees are a bit high compared to other sites. Amazon is easy to use. Their customer service for sellers is not very helpful and they always take the buyer side.

Too many fees and standards that the put on sellers that they themselves do not uphold. Plus they compete with you and/or remove your ability to sell profitable products.

It's annoying that a seller has to meet certain selling date standards in order to sell toys at the holidays.

There is a potential to sell quite a bit on Amazon as they have the traffic to do so. Sellers are restricted and cannot sell all products. I found this to be a hindrance to making more profits. After several months of trying to get approval to sell in restricted categories, I was not approved and gave up. I don't feel that Amazon protects sellers from fraud and dishonest buyers. A buyer can make a purchase, request a return and then file an A-Z claim. Then the buyer will get a full refund without having to return the product. That happened to me even after I sent the buyer a prepaid shipping label. Most sites have buyer protection, but not seller protection. This needs to change. I do like the potential to earn a good income on Amazon and seller support does their best to be helpful when I contact them.

It hurts my sales a lot to be unable to sell during the busy holiday season. And it is a big pain to have to relist everything when I am given "permission" to sell after the holidays.

Very difficult to get established. I sell mostly used items, Amazon seems more suited to new items.

I would never recommend Amazon as a selling venue. The fees are too high and they don't allow enough for shipping. Not even half of what the shipping normally costs. Unless you use FBA you're out of luck on the Buy Box, most of the time.

Amazon is easy to use. Sales are sporadic. Sales have been much slower than in previous years.

It's easy to use in one way as far as listing and selling stuff. But in another way it's hard to get your items pictures shown, and everything has to have a upc code. So you can't sell older vintage stuff out of the package

It is often difficult to find the exact item to be able to "sell your item".

Fees are extremely high and it is difficult to share items to social media sites.

Like working for Big Brother. On Amazon, a neutral feedback counts as a negative. Small businesses are held to ridiculous standards.

Amazon is complicated and NO customer service. FBA is a horrible offer, you have pay all these fees for storage and destroying or shipping back if it doesn't sell, and for a Pro plan, you have to buy insurance.

Amazon is geared totally towards buyers. Amazon pits all the sellers against each other to drive the price down to where there is no profit left.

Amazon has no respect for its third party sellers. They continuously create new measurables that force sellers into bending to the will of them, or their customers, regardless of the reason.

Amazon does get the traffic however, their listing process is cumbersome, their customer service is lacking, their fees are very high.

After 13 years of selling DVDs on Amazon they disapproved my continuing to sell DVDs over $25 despite proof of valid receipts, no prior issues, having been a top 25% seller in 2012 and Amazon selected for the Buy Box on several occasions when they themselves had product issues, no metric issues in spite of repeated revisions to the metrics on Amazon's part.

Amazon doesn't verify buyer addresses, which is absurd. They also take a bigger cut than anyone else online, and don't bother notifying you of significant changes to product detail pages that list products you have posted for sale. Could definitely be better in light of how much they take from sales.

Amazon is far and away the largest marketplace in the world. The problem with Amazon is that the fees are high, rules are either selectively or inconsistently applied, and they would just as soon throw you under the bus than to even remotely consider you to be a business partner. Sellers are just another resource to be used up and disposed of.

CS needs to read the problem and not just send out a canned response that has nothing to do with the reason you contacted them in the first place. There fees are higher but it is offset with the shipping credit they give you.

To be competitive, items are sometimes sold at a loss. Amazon holds any profits for up to 2 weeks before releasing to the seller. This is WRONG!

They are no longer promoting 3rd party selling and our products are not showing in search results. Our sales are now non-existent, while they used to provide a few sales each month.

I would only recommend Amazon for massive / pro book seller or occasional sale by individual of expensive single book or text book

Very convoluted to use for custom made items. Marketplace did not fit for type of merchandise sold.

Held responsible for metrics over which you have no control (ie., delivery time, emails from customers confused about Amazon not my products, etc.)

Sellers don't have any rights and they are always requiring more and more from us. Low sales and high fees over the past 2 years leave me questioning whether it's worth staying with this marketplace.

As a casual small seller, I find Amazon's fees and commission very high. Tough to compete with the big boys and girls here.

Harder and harder for the Marketplace seller to be competitive. High fee relative to percentage of low value items. Some basic features - eg tax collection - not available to individual seller.

They want everyone to enter too many details to sell books. Once one seller enters details, why can't they just be shared, when we're all selling the same book? Why must every seller have to enter the number of pages, etc. For the same ISBN?

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 and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.

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