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Sellers Choice 2019 Marketplace Ratings: Amazon

Amazon

Amazon came in 7th place in the 2019 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces. It can’t be beat for sales, but selling on this highly competitive marketplace comes with a host of challenges.

In January 2019, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 13,000 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 11 online marketplaces included in the survey.

Amazon - EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice 2018 Award

Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

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

Amazon came in 7th place in the 2019 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces. Amazon can’t be beat for sales, according to many sellers, but it comes with a set of challenges that keep it from ranking higher than some smaller marketplaces. “Gold standard of selling sites. Not for the faint of heart though,” one seller said.

What’s striking in reviewing the comments left by sellers is seeing the many different ways they use Amazon, so it’s not surprising to see a wide range of experiences. For example, some sellers are listing used books; some artisans are using Amazon Handmade; some sellers are using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), some Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP); and some participate in Amazon’s advertising program.

Sellers cite many pros to selling on Amazon: traffic, lots of sales, and visibility. Those who get it right by having the right products sourced at the right price give it high marks.

Sellers are split when it comes to ease of use.

Cons cited by sellers include: competition, complexity, and lack of customer support. Note that sellers say competition comes not only from rival sellers, but from Amazon itself. “If you have a product that sells, it will soon be carried by this monster company,” wrote one seller.

Other sellers said, “They will allow for cheap knock offs on your listing and you have little recourse,” and, “I am a USPTO registered brand. We don’t feel Amazon protects us from poachers.”

Sellers say they have seen a downward trend in profit – which isn’t surprising given the highly competitive nature of the marketplace. And sellers said selling fees on Amazon were high.

“Amazon makes more profit from my sales than I do,” said one seller. Another wrote, “They have opened the market up to China and allowed them to undercut sellers here. It is very hard for American companies to compete. I have pulled almost all of my inventory from Amazon.”

Nevertheless, some of the fiercest critics say they stay on Amazon because it generates the most sales.

One seller who advertises their products on Amazon wrote, “Now, with their new advertising programs, they want to take even more of every sales dollar that 3rd party sellers generate. No true tracking data, no allowances for click fraud, no way to check or track click fraud and no one to contact about obtaining credits even if you could spot the click fraud.”

Some sellers complained of gating – in other words, being unable to sell certain products or in certain categories – and of the difficulty in getting Amazon to fix product pages in its catalog.

Challenges cited were Amazon’s extremely high standards for sellers and how Amazon handles claims against sellers. “Easy to get kicked off platform w/no recourse,” wrote one seller.

“Amazon should protect their sellers from negative feedback and A to Z claims when it is apparent that the buyer is trying to punish the seller for not giving them everything they want, even if they don’t deserve it. On the forums it is amazing how many sellers because of fright of getting negatives, A2Z, or metric hits, will give a buyer everything thing that they want. That just teaches more of them that they can walk all over the other sellers as well.”

Another seller wrote, “the feedback is atrocious and unfair as most buyers do not leave feedback even though it is quite obvious they are pleased with item, but those who have a negative experience always leave bad feedback or manipulate it.”

Some said it’s difficult to get started on the site. “There is also a steep learning curve as to what is acceptable and expected from sellers on this site,” wrote one seller.

Amazon received a 6.16 in Profitability; a 5.32 in Customer Service; a 5.18 in Communication; and a 5.8 in Ease of Use. It received a 5.01 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 gets tons of traffic & a huge percentage of all online sales. It is a fantastic venue to sell.

This site has the best of everything best customer service best deals best to both the buyer and the seller and very fair.

Quick and easy to add inventory, can’t beat the pool of buyers! Not as good for vintage items, but great for new items.

Amazon gets hands down the best traffic and sales for my business.

Amazon is king, that’s where the money is made.

Amazon’s fees are high, but the visibility and sell-through are worth it to me as a seller.

It’s easy to list. Large catalog. Not happy about being gated. Seller support is very good, CSRs answer phone quickly. Or they call you back quickly.

Can make a lot of money but hard to know all the rules.

Amazon is good for selling. Better that they now offer integrated shipping. They charge high fees. Most of my items are priced $10-20 and they charge almost $5 seller fees. Don’t like that you have to enter a gtin or isbn or upc to sell items. It used to be easy to obtain exception, but now requires a letter of support, so I cannot easily add new items to sell.

The only reason I give such a high recommendation to other sellers is because of the sheer amount of volume Amazon brings in sales.

Amazon is great for the selling pro and the deep pockets sellers. Not for the beginner and the low income guy.

Easy to sell with existing listings. Difficult to make a new listing. FBA system is good, but there is a steep learning curve.

Amazon has high volume sales which results in big profits for its sellers. Downside is virtually no customer support due to Amazon being too big to deal with its own size.

Overall a good platform to sell on. Many items are very competitive and can force margins down.

Listen. Amazon isn’t an easy platform but it is where the traffic is and the competition. So it’s good to be in the Amazon game, you just need to be other places as well.

User Friendly. Extremely simple to list books. Site recognition.

I resisted selling on Amazon for many years, but once eBay closed Half.com I gave it a try. It is easy to list on Amazon and sales are very good. Despite lowball pricing by charity shops, you can get acceptable prices for your books, but I will say that fees are steep when you sell on Amazon.

Amazon is a good site to sell but there are some limitations.

Best site to sell on, but customer service is lacking.

A bit technical to get up selling on Amazon but worth it because of the high level security Amazon offers.

It’s a good and genuine platform for selling!

Consistently great site to sell on over 20 year period.

I have found Amazon easy to use and works thru most problems with me well.

Still the most profitable venue. They have added a lot of restrictions and most categories are gated. Listing fees are ok, because you can list an unlimited amount, but final value fees are very high. Communication to customers is difficult, sometimes not possible. 

Amazon has the traffic which is why I deal with the annoying things as a seller on Amazon. Their fees are super high which I hate… but they provide the customers.

It isn’t the easiest for handmade, but at least they try, and they act like they care. They screen, they remove violators, I can call and get calls and have issues taken care of between a few hours and a day.

I love selling on Amazon but I don’t like having to compete with Prime sellers, and I don’t like the fact that Amazon no longer offers phone support to sellers. I also don’t like that they don’t count tracking as proof of delivery unless the package is signed for.

I make more money on Amazon than elsewhere, but it can be gutwrenching at times. Buyers that feel entitled, the nonsense where every request for a refund is an automatic yes for any reason at all and then having to jump through hoops to get to keep your share of a refund that you are entitled to, such as when the buyer’s reason for the refund is buyer’s remorse and they think they should have their shipping refunded as well as the full cost of the product. Or they are idiots and don’t bother looking to see what they are really buying and then get mad that they didn’t get what they thought they were going to get of the refund. A 6th grader even if they don’t understand what I sell, could or at least should be able to understand what is for sale. But we will never get buyers to read everything which was on the listing to help them make smart buying decisions. Amazon should protect their sellers from negative feedback and A to Z claims when it is apparent that the buyer is trying to punish the seller for not giving them everything they want, even if they don’t deserve it. On the forums it is amazing how many sellers because of fright of getting negatives, A2Z, or metric hits, will give a buyer everything thing that they want. That just teaches more of them that they can walk all over the other sellers as well. Other things that bother me a lot is when a seller makes a slap dash listing page without half the essential information on it such as SIZES. Then to try to fix things you have to open a case and cross every finger and toe that you have that you get an intelligent CSR who will allow the fix to go through, instead of the CSRs that say they want a letter from a company or proof (including UPC) of the items webpage, when it was printed before personal computers took over our lives and no company is going to want to dig up the information and present it in such a way as to let the CSR or the “concerned team” make the decision to fix it. How hard can it be to fix a size? I have had such cases extend 6-8 weeks and then I just forget about them. I don’t have hours and hours to spend trying to get Amazon to let me help them fix their catalog. A proper page helps me as a seller to have the info a buyer wants. One without the info means a great possibility of a return as SNAD which loses us money. I can’t afford to lose money. I stick around because I need the money, but I much prefer my other sales venue! I’m working on a 2 year plan currently to be able to be doing something new and not quite so dependent on the day to day listing, etc. I think big changes are at work in many venues and to be small seller is not the safest thing to be in the years ahead except for sites that want small sellers!

It is a great site to sell on. The only problem is that customers can bash you freely with no recourse. Amazon does not back its sellers well. Nobody should be able to leave a negative review without contacting the seller first. Customer service is more than the sale.

Amazon makes my business money but it is both easy and encouraged to steal from sellers where Amazon will do everything it can to be sure the buyer gets both the item & the money and the seller gets neither.

Having sold on this site for a long time, it is a different experience now. There is also a steep learning curve as to what is acceptable and expected from sellers on this site.

High on volume, low on profitability. Also one has to compete with a lot of sellers to get buy box placement. Takes a lot of effort to also get good ratings, which make the world of difference in sales.

I am a micro seller and have been selling used nonfiction books since Bezos opened the site to 3rd party sellers. Listing is super easy. Amazon’s rules are strict, but they don’t change, unlike eBay. The fees are high, since there are 3 of them if you are not a professional seller. It is impractical to sell anything for less than $10 – $15 because of the 2 fixed fees. When the price is over $20, it doesn’t have much impact.

Getting into my seller account is very cumbersome. If you have a problem, you have no one to talk to.

I think customer service on Amazon is lacking, I don’t feel they care very much about 3rd party sellers. However it is still the best marketplace I sell on.

Amazon is constantly changing parameters and the selling venue is always under change or flux keeping inventories blocked for suppressed reasons that make no sense. If a product detail page lacks a picture or missing some bit of info, it is suppressed (but it can be created). Last year they got rid of at least 80% of sellers selling CDs. They wanted to know the sources of distribution and prices. I for one do not divulge sources. It’s a ridiculous request from the largest competitor out there. They use the information of your inventory and your sales against you by finding openings for their own sales. If you have a product that sells, it will soon be carried by this monster company. There’s much more but do your research if you use them.

Amazon is the single worst marketplace online for sellers. Make money there while you can, because they will allow for cheap knock offs on your listing and you have little recourse.

I am a USPTO registered brand. We don’t feel Amazon protects us from poachers.

Amazon handmade was a nice idea but not really a good market for the independent artist. Big ocean, tiny fish have little chance at exposure in search.

Amazon has too many restrictions, fees are too high, and they compete against their own sellers.

I do not like the delay in receiving your money from sales and do not like their automatic markdowns of sellers items.

We did absolutely everything possible over and over again with Amazon but with extremely poor results. Very poor seller-customer service. I will likely try it again in the future with the sincere hope they have improved. Felt we got “burned “dealing with them. I do buy things on their site from time to though. That also has problems. There packaging/shipping department needs instruction. That affected us as a seller as well…

There’s just too much fear on Amazon. Will I be accused of intellectual property violations because some other seller altered a product page that I’m listing against? Will I be suspended over one negative feedback? Will my listings for products be removed because my purchase invoices are rejected for unexplained reasons? I just don’t believe I can rely on remaining an Amazon seller, even though I’ve been one for over 15 years.

Amazon is very easy to use. The profitability is down because of their fees. Constantly changing and very high.

I sold on Amazon before and wanted to sell now but they asked me for my SSN.

Banned from selling. Accused of selling fakes even though I purchased direct from the manufacturer and had an invoice to prove it. Appeal went nowhere and my words fell on deaf ears.

They are becoming less and less pro seller and more and more pro-buyer, meaning, buyers automatically get refunds when they are returning for “No longer needed” and other reasons that should not automatically get a pre-paid label. Also many sellers report getting wrong items back or obviously used items and Amazon is still refunding the buyer.

Amazon has become so big the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing sometimes. We only use FBA for a few items now because their staff is not trained to count or stock correctly and they blame the sellers for their inability to count, and they lose inventory frequently, and, they break inventory. Their packing of orders is terrible…then they want to pay the seller pennies on the dollar when we trusted to put our inventory in Amazon’s hands to handle …they act like the seller’s inventory means nothing. They put in all these policies and rules that benefit Amazon without consideration to how it will affect the seller…i.e. SPF (Seller Fulfilled Prime) I use USPS Priority, and for some reason on a weekend Amazon will say that I have to ship by UPS, which is $5 more, and if I don’t purchase my label from Amazon, they ding my metrics…totally ridiculous.

While volume is high Amazon will keep the buy box if they have a retail offer, and if they don’t and they see high volume, they will make a competing product or form a direct relationship with the manufacturer, often times undercutting the price.

It appears to me Amazon is endeavoring to devalue and eliminate third party sellers. They also refuse to listen to seller when there is a false claim of defective item when it clearly is not. Also, the feedback is atrocious and unfair as most buyers do not leave feedback even though it is quite obvious they are pleased with item, but those who have a negative experience always leave bad feedback or manipulate it so that the seller is forced to issue a full refund and they keep the item in order for the buyer to remove the negative feedback, which is fraud on the buyers part.

Amazon makes more profit from my sales than I do. Horrible format for a Seller as pages are junked up with other items, both relevant and not. They split your listing information so most gets lost in the other advertising. We are considering closing our Amazon eStore soon, but have not found an alternative that offers as much traffic.

Amazon continues to find new ways to treat its US-based 3rd party sellers like vermin. From sales throttling algorithms, to increasingly limiting access to seller support and providing fewer if any trained support personnel. Now, with their new advertising programs, they want to take even more of every sales dollar that 3rd party sellers generate. No true tracking data, no allowances for click fraud, no way to check or track click fraud and no one to contact about obtaining credits even if you could spot the click fraud (assuming it isn’t just Amazon making up “click throughs” to your products. They’re a lousy business partner and largely the least trustworthy of any marketplace out there, and that includes eBay!

Amazon is a site which caters to software analytics, not customer feedback or experience. You have to google your question or go to a blog to find out your answer. A ghost town for small sellers. No help from customer service, do they have one with live people, or is it a computer app?

Fees are high. Once I sold a magazine and after shipping it my profits were minus 40 cents. Too many sellers selling products at such a reduced rate it squeezes out all competitors.

1) Amazon competes with their sellers. 2) If another seller has entered the wrong information into a listing, it is nearly impossible to get Amazon to fix. 3) When an issue arises, Amazon is not very quick in resolving seller problems.

Amazon is too restricted and competes directly with small casual sellers. Amazon arbitrarily changes its “rules” and “policies” making the site more difficult to use. The site is cluttered with listings for items that are “out of stock” or “unavailable”, and yet those zombie listings compete directly for the buyer’s attention.

Amazon used to be profitable for book sellers, until amateurs started taking over the site with 1p books !

Amazon annually makes toy sellers meet a minimum completion level, else they get booted over the holidays. Most expensive site I know of to sell on.

As a liquidation and closeout seller of womens apparel. Amazon does not allow these items because we are not an authorized seller.

Amazon is VERY biased towards customers, it is not supportive of third party seller, thus enabling buyers to take advantage of Amazon’s policy, thereby promoting excessive returns, false claims/disputes and chargebacks. Would NOT recommend Amazon.

Amazon is focused on sellers with credited, large inventories. They are not in favor of small persons selling everyday single items with limited resources & capital investments.

The fees are too high. The catalog is a mess. Amazon allows people to list on UPC’s assigned to other products.

Profit are cut drastically all the time with increased selling and storage fees at FBA. I give them 9 stars for the sum of orders we get, but 1 when it comes to the actual take home for smaller priced items. On top of that their seller support has drastically changed over the last year. They used to be great, but now I don’t even see a point of them having one.

I am a book seller and Amazon takes 2.40 cents of 3.99 buyer pays for shipping. There is no book unless it weighs a few ounces that can be mailed for 1.59. All notifications from seller performance are based on algorithms and are without exception negative. Seller performance has more and more negative rules that do not take into consideration one’s history of positive feedback ( In my case 100% for 10 plus years. I hate Amazon and I DO NOT BUY ANYTHING THERE BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT TREATS EMPLOYEES at Fufillment centers and small marketplace sellers. I am ashamed to be selling on Amazon (19 years) but I am too old and too poor to list elsewhere. In many cases Amazon’s profit on a book is 50% or more of what I receive and in others is MORE than my profit.

The reason I rated AMAZON in these means is because of the long-term relationship I personally have and continue to have as a seller on this e-commerce website. I am quite disappointed in my sales revenue over the past 3 years and believe that my circumstances will not change. Amazon needs to regenerate more person(s) of interest towards my products so as to have me to set realistic goals and potential sales.

I am a small home based seller of collectibles. I sold some items on Amazon until they required a lot of additional background information and a separate bank account for Amazon. When I did sell on Amazon, I found I could not pay the Amazon fees and also compete with large Amazon volume sellers on price and shipping costs. I don’t think it is a good place for a small low volume home-based business for unique collectibles like ours.

Feel like they used 3rd party sellers to build their catalog and are now trying to push me out. Items I used to be able to sell are now restricted. Example : Amazon requires invoices for items such as Fisher Price dated within 365 days, and the item I’m selling is used and 10 years old. Longtime sellers punished for flood of Chinese knockoffs that Amazon refuses to crack down on. Customer scamming is outrageous and costing me time and money due to their customer centric mania. I could go on and on.

Amazon grew and grew and I noticed a direct correlation to less support to sellers and increased rates for sellers to pay. It seems virtually impossible to have an open line of discussion or support from Amazon at this point. They also became more and more restrictive to who could sell what on their site. Amazon did make an announcement regarding a reduction in fees to come soon. I may have been willing to sign up and pay their monthly dues, but when weighing all their restrictions and items I have in my inventory, my potential to maximize on profits through Amazon are slim.

Some items do not have an asin, ISBN or a certain code cannot be listed. Vintage & antique items cannot be listed unless it is in their listing. Also you cannot list lots.

Amazon doesn’t just take a fee out of a percentage of the sale price, but takes a huge fee out of the shipping cost. If you want to price books competitively, you’re almost certainly going to lose money on each sale.

I have been an Amazon 3rd party seller for nearly 15 years. However, the selling experience has gone rapidly downhill over the last 2-3 years. Their fees and restrictions are ridiculous at this point. It is becoming an increasingly hostile and unwelcoming environment for third-party sellers.

I sell on Amazon Handmade which, despite its hype, is just another department on the Amazon site. My sales aren’t good there, best as I can tell, because I create OOAK items rather than making the same thing over and over. Amazon TRIES with their customer service but, 9 times out of 10, they fall short. VERY short. Seller support emails are poorly worded with extremely bad grammar and seem to be written by someone for whom English is a 3rd language. Their phone support can be great or SOOOO bad that I can’t even understand the caller (I ended up hanging up on that support rep, as it was impossible to understand what she was saying!). I recently had a QUESTION for Amazon’s Seller Support. They kept in touch TOO OFTEN (I think every couple of days), just to say they didn’t yet have an answer but they were working on it. The question didn’t involve “rocket science” so it should have been relatively easy to get an answer; still, it took more than 2 months to get a “final answer” to my question. That was just ridiculous! (Thankfully it was more of a “curious” question rather than one which required an immediate answer … but still!) Listing on Amazon is rather clunky; one of my biggest pet peeves with Amazon is the way the listing fields have “examples.” It makes the screen look cluttery and it’s hard to figure out which fields I need to use. I’m happy to recommend Amazon to potential sellers, but that will come with the caveat that they will almost certainly do better with production, rather than OOAK, products. The 15% fees are a bit annoying. I don’t think they need to be that high for merchant-fulfilled orders! I have sold on Amazon Handmade since it launched in 2015.

Since Amazon increased seller fees in March of 2017, many of the paperback books I sell for less than $10, are not very profitable to sell. On the other hand, I did sell a book for $200 recently, which is good and a more profitable item. But my average sale on amazon with 15,000 books listed is only about $12. I sell only Amazon.com Marketplace. Sales are not what they used to be 5 or 6 years ago.

Right now I am changing my Amazon business from 100% FBA to 100% SFP. I can no longer rely on Amazon to follow its own policies, and the level of financial loss through FBA has dramatically increased. I blame bad leadership and not the warehouse workers, because the workers have given great service in the past and do not control Amazon policies. Amazon has also increased my legal and financial liabilities in how it has responded to the changing sales tax situation. No longer will I allow Amazon to create Nexus because they move my inventory between warehouses without my permission. Plus once out of their warehouses, I will be able legally NOT register in most states because I do not meet their minimum transactions/sales levels. I lose about 10% of gross sales every year because Amazon does not follow the required JEWELRY Category Return Policies. If the jewelry or the jewelry box is damaged in any way, Customer Service is prohibited from offering a return as it is not eligible for return or refund. As soon as my own website has finished the launch stage and has achieved sufficient mass, I will be greatly reducing the number of items I sell on Amazon until I “depend” on Amazon for only 10% of my profits, at which time I will walk away completely. Based on recent behavior policies, I’d say Amazon is in huge financial hot water and will be forced to change. I don’t want my inventory in their warehouses when the extent of their problems are revealed.

Sellers Choice Awards:
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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.