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Sun June 14 2015 21:28:57

Amazon Goes After Another Niche - Customizable Products

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon is going after a new niche - personalized / customized products. Like the Amazon Handmade program we told you about last month, Amazon Custom is a pilot program open to a select group of third-party sellers.

It seems now that Amazon has built up confidence in working with third-party merchants, who represent 44% of units sold, it is comfortable going after new opportunities - 3D printing, collectibles, fine art, and wine, for example. 

Offering custom products for sale is not as easy as it first sounds, however. Currently Amazon sellers list products for sale - how would a buyer communicate to the seller exactly the information needed to customize a product?

Not only does Amazon not want sellers to require buyers to communicate with them before or after a sale, it wants to ensure there is no miscommunication and that the buyer understands as closely as possible what their custom product will look like.

In Monday's Newsflash we explain some of the logistics, including the form the buyer must complete before being able to add the item to their shopping cart, and a preview widget that helps them visualize the end product during the ordering process.

But even there, it's not easy - sellers must customize the form, and each product may have a different number of customizable fields - font, color, text, for example.

However, Amazon already has experience when it comes to custom orders - it opened its 3D printing store last July that offers shoppers the ability to order custom products such as bobblehead dolls where they can specify attributes such as eye color and facial hair. 

With Amazon 3D printing, the "Add to Cart" button is replaced with a "Personalize Now" button. With Amazon Custom, it's a "Customize Now" button.

Some sellers already try to offer personalized items, but this post by a seller on the Amazon discussion boards explains some of the difficulties faced:

"I sell personalized item. The description states the items are personalized and what information is required to personalize them. People purchase the item and never supply the information needed to personalize their order. I send messages to remind them, they go unanswered. Eventually I have to cancel the order and take a big hit because the order was cancelled. Any advise would be appreciated."

The new program is designed to overcome such challenges.

Look for tomorrow's Newsflash article (available now), and let us know what you think. Would this be a market you'd be interested in, and what are the risks (returns?) and rewards?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Sun Jun 14 23:04:07 2015

Whatever, when eBay finally sinks beneath the waves I will miss the auctions. Such auctions are the only way to establish a market value for used/unique/collectible items.

Unfortunately, eBay has (indeed, always has) allowed its auctions to be overrun by auction fraudsters. Indeed, it’s in eBay’s financial interest to facilitate and aid and abet such fraud on consumers on nominal-start auctions, and demonstrably, they make every effort to aid and abet such fraud …

The ugly reality of eBay’s demonstrable, calculated, facilitation of endemic shill bidding fraud on consumers on its auctions marketplace … http://bit.ly/11F2eas

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jun 15 07:31:06 2015

It appears that what Amazon is doing is very much akin to what Walmart did to main street USA in any town USA, so you could call Amazon the Walmart of ecommerce.

I'm not impressed.  I've never seen anything good come from behemoth sized companies crushing competition.

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by: This a joke, right? This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jun 15 07:59:36 2015

Love it! I sell a lot of items that I can customize. I don't customize them on amazon but do on Etsy and have never had a bad experience

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This user has validated their user name. by: Leroy

Tue Jun 16 06:41:07 2015

@Philip Cohen

You could always scratch your auction itch on Penny Auctions, while simultaneously positioning yourself  for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to rid yourself of any and all pesky debts once and for all.

I'm joking. Sort of. Sometimes I wonder if I've found a unique group of people who have no sense of humor – or at least one of a few groups of people who appear to believe that *I* am the one who lacks a sense of humor, or at least I possess a sense of humor that is warped, irreverent, fond of pushing boundaries – especially if they push back.

Whatever. I just found out today that the incredible stress I've been under this past year has led to my Diabetes Type 2 coming back with a vengeance. My A1C blood test has been averaging 4.5 (you want a result lower than 6), for decades, just by eating well and getting regular exercise. Walking dogs is great exercise – just thought I'd mention that.

Yesterday my A1C lab test was 11.2. I didn't know it was possible to have an A1C that high and still be considered alive. So I have renewed my vow to STOP LETTING EBAY AFFECT ME, but I don't mean I'm going to put on the blindfold. On the contrary, I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open and join any united seller activities, should there be any.

I started out at Pfizer right out of college. I was thoroughly introduced to corporate greed and corruption at that time. I lasted 3 years. But eBay's corruption is unlike anything I've ever seen or heard of before. They appear to me to feel that they're untouchable, and perhaps they are.

Perminate Link for Amazon Goes After Another Niche - Customizable Products   Amazon Goes After Another Niche - Customizable Products

This user has validated their user name. by: Leroy

Tue Jun 16 06:52:25 2015

This chat thing on this site seems to malfunction for me quite a bit.

Ina, how does this online news source stay afloat? In other words, most newspapers sell advertising, but I don't see a lot of advertising on your site.

Who pays your fees?



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