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From the Editor – December 13, 2020

EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes Editor Ina Steiner

In 2010, we launched the Sellers Choice Awards. We wanted to give sellers the opportunity to provide feedback to the online marketplaces on which they sold and share their experiences with fellow sellers who might be considering expanding their ecommerce footprint.

Readers took it seriously – they provided detailed descriptions of what was working well and what things were getting in their way as sellers – what we refer to as, “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Next month, we kick off the 12th annual Sellers Choice Awards.

But before we open up the survey, we need your help in narrowing down the list of venues to 10 finalists. I’m happy to announce that the nominations process is now open. Please take a moment to nominate up to 5 venues on which you sell by visiting this quick survey on SurveyMonkey. We’ll tally the nominations, and next month we’ll open the process of rating the finalists, with the final results to be published in February.

Seven years ago on Christmas Day 2013, some online shoppers woke up with missing presents under the tree thanks to major delivery delays by shipping carriers. In reporting the debacle, the Wall Street Journal wrote that morning, “Although weather, Web glitches and late deliveries from manufacturers played a part in late deliveries, the sheer unanticipated volume of holiday buying this year may have been the biggest problem.”

This year, any late deliveries will not be due to merchants and shipping carriers being caught unawares at the last minute – they’ve been struggling since the spring to keep up with pandemic-induced demand.

Just as we heard anecdotal reports 7 years ago that led us to believe a big problem was brewing, we’ve been hearing numerous reports of delivery days – the infamous, “In transit, arriving late” message is appearing in USPS tracking forms seemingly from all around the country.

According to sellers, this is causing some buyers to file claims with online marketplaces, increasing the likelihood of returns, negative feedback, and dings to performance metrics. Yet they also say marketplaces are not always being realistic when displaying estimated delivery dates to shoppers.

Shipping carriers learned important lessons from the 2013 holiday crunch, but so did Amazon, which at that time had to rely heavily on other companies to deliver their orders. Its logistics network looks very different today after 7 years of building in-house capacity.

Sellers who store goods at Amazon warehouses are positioned to take advantage of its delivery capabilities, but getting inventory to fulfillment centers can be problematic, especially now. Joe Kaziukenas of Marketplace Pulse put it this way: “This year, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) changed from a service sellers can rely on to a service they hope Amazon will allow them to use.”

Typically sellers might feel confident selling to Christmas gift-givers through the beginning of next week, but this year, it feels like even this week presents risks of items not meeting the holiday deadline. Interestingly Rakuten suggested merchants concentrate on promoting gift cards, the “2020-proof” gift. We’ve noticed Etsy has begun promoting gift cards in its email newsletters – a viable strategy since it manages payments, something eBay is transitioning to with Managed Payments.

We’ll continue to follow the shipping challenges sellers are facing in our daily Newsflash articles, blog posts, and in letters to the editor, and keep us posted on what you’re seeing!

In today’s issue, we talk to Google’s President of Commerce Bill Ready about his plans for online merchants – particularly small online sellers. We also hear from the Auction Professor about the best places to sell vintage and collectibles. Collectors Corner takes a look at artist Bob Ross and the popularity of his Joy of Painting TV show, and we end with Letters to the Editor.

Thanks for reading, and please remember to nominate up to 5 venues for the 2021 Sellers Choice Awards.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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.

2 thoughts on “From the Editor – December 13, 2020”

  1. No, USPS has learned Nothing.
    My client has been suffering anxiety over a NINE DAY LATE (and counting) package.
    So, nothing has changed.

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