From the Editor - July 10, 2016
By Ina Steiner
Are you ready for Amazon Prime Day 2016? The marketplace is holding its second annual summer shopping event on Tuesday (July 12), and its marketing campaign again includes TV ads, such as this spot.
The key messages in the ads: "more deals than ever before" and "the deals are everywhere," with cartoon characters walking around with smartphones checking out the deals - on Ferris wheels, standing in line at the movie theatre - and of course, at the office.
Amazon invited more third-party sellers to participate this year, but even sellers who are not offering Prime Day deals are sure to benefit from the boost in traffic, particularly those whose items are Prime-eligible (FBA and Seller Fulfilled Prime). You can find our tips for sellers here - some sellers will also be using this week to source inventory, depending on how good the deals are.
Other retailers are responding by holding sales of their own this week as they did last year, but with more advance notice. eBay took an interesting approach by reminding shoppers that its marketplace offers special deals with free shipping every day, no membership required - see Friday's AuctionBytes Blog.
We checked in with shipping carriers to see if they were prepared for the expected boost in traffic, you can read what they had to say here.
Amazon Prime Day is worldwide, and Canadian sellers are facing a major wrinkle. It looked like mail in Canada might have come to a standstill as early as tomorrow, with Canada Post threatening to lock out union workers, though both sides are now looking for a 30-day extension to continue negotiations. Damage has already been done as some online sellers began avoiding using Canada Post as early as last month over fears their packages might become stranded in the event of a disruption.
On Friday, Canada Post wrote, "Yesterday alone, the amount of mail deposited across our network was down more than 80 percent compared with the same day last year."
That may get worse - for example, eBay has begun adding a warning page when shoppers attempt to purchase an item from a Canadian seller. A reader sent a screenshot of a page he encountered during the purchase process. The message reads, "Delivery of this item may be delayed due to a Canada Post labor dispute. Please review the seller's description."
Meanwhile, eBay reaching out to sellers with suspended or restricted accounts and asking them if they'd like to get selling again with the help of Kyozou, a third-party vendor based in Canada that provides multi-channel solutions to merchants.
You can read what sellers have to say about eBay's outreach to formerly suspended sellers in this EcommerceBytes Blog post, "eBay Welcomes Sinners Back into the Fold."
Another development this summer that could have an impact on online sellers: the UK voted to remove itself from the European Union.
If Brexit becomes a reality, an obvious program that could be impacted is Amazon FBA.
In April Amazon launched a new pan-European Fulfilment program. Marketplace sellers send their inventory to their local fulfilment center, and Amazon takes care of the rest, distributing their products across Europe to ensure fast delivery to customers. Amazon has invested heavily in the UK (4.6 billion pounds in the UK economy since 2010), and if the country exits the EU, trade barriers could be erected that make cross-border trade more challenging.
According to Bernhard Bukovc of the Postal Innovation Platform writing on PostalVision2020.com, "There may be implications for online shops and e-marketplaces. Some e-marketplaces serve the entire EU from their hubs and warehouses in the UK. In the future, they might want to operate their hubs within the EU, which may lead to moving warehouses from the UK to a EU country. But maybe not, if shipping providers, including posts, can provide a seamless cross-border service."
In today's issue, we confront some other challenges sellers face.
In "Forget the Buy Box and Other Tips from Profitable Merchants," two online merchants provide tips on how to maintain profitability, lessons they learned as they fought against the race to the bottom in pricing.
And consultant Cynthia Stine recounts some of the specific challenges Amazon sellers face and offers concrete suggestions for the company's management in today's guest column, "What sellers wish Amazon knew about selling."
Speaking of challenges that Amazon sellers face, check out Friday's blog post about CNBC's "Amazon's Chinese counterfeit problem is getting worse."
Also in today's issue, we take a look at the collectibility of DVDs and Blu-rays (see which DVD title recently sold for $1,625) and conclude with Letters to the Editor.
Thanks for reading.
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 email@example.com.
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