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Sellers Say Amazon Messages Put a Crimp in Christmas Sales

Some sellers are upset over the way Amazon is displaying estimated delivery dates and say it’s costing them sales from holiday shoppers on the last weekend before Christmas. On December 19th, sellers took to Amazon’s discussion boards to report that the marketplace had begun adding extra days to their listings’ delivery date estimates, showing dates after December 24th.

One seller who ships within hours of receiving orders with most shipments arriving in 2 – 4 days said one of their listings showed an estimated delivery time of 13 days.

Sellers on one thread said the new practice penalizes sellers who don’t use Amazon’s fulfillment service called FBA. (Non-FBA orders are called Merchant Fulfilled.) “I think their goal is to either make it so that sellers will only sell FBA or not sell at all,” wrote one merchant.

A seller posted a message they were seeing on December 16th on a merchant-fulfilled listing that said, “May arrive after Christmas. Estimated Delivery Date: Friday, Dec. 26 when you choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout.” That’s a delivery estimate of 10 days for an order with 2-day shipping.

“Yep,” wrote one seller. “Even in the back end, my orders from today have an expected ship date of Dec 24, where they would normally be Monday Dec 22. They have extended the processing time, which has caused my orders to plummet.”

One merchant posted a letter they had received in response to their query to Amazon Customer Service:

Dear Seller,
Thank you for contacting us.

Please know that the Extended Estimated Delivery Date is currently being displayed on the offer Listing page for the Holiday Season so that the buyers can expect the product at a later time.

In this Holiday Season, we have noticed a delay in delivery of the order, which may lead to order cancellation and returns.

Therefore, a new feature has been created to show a longer Estimated Delivery Date.

This is with a view to protecting the sellers from having to meet an unrealistic promise on an order which has been delayed in Amazon itself. If the seller is unable to meet a promise his/her performance metrics get affected.

The actual Estimated Delivery date will differ from the actual one when the product has been added to the cart.

Please write back to us with more details if you still have further Issues in this regard.

Thank you for selling with Amazon.

Another seller said they were told they needed to become a Pro merchant in order to have the extra long lead times removed. However, a seller responded that they were Pro with 1-day turn around, “and it doesn’t help on the (merchant-fulfilled) dates.”

Some wondered if Amazon expected shipping carrier delays the week of Christmas.

But a few sellers sounded relieved that Amazon was removing the pressure of fast turn around on orders. One said she was disappointed that Amazon was doing this, “but I’m ready for a break.” And she is expecting another flurry of sales – “after all,” she wrote, “we have all of those gift card sales to look forward to starting on Christmas day.”

Sellers began discussing the problem on Friday, and as of Sunday evening, no one from Amazon had addressed the sellers’ concerns in the threads.

After last year’s disappointments with late Christmas orders, it appears Amazon is being ultra conservative with third-party merchant orders. It recently instituted stricter shipping requirements.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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.