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Sat Feb 16 2008 18:14:54 What's Your Experience with the River?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

I interviewed Matt Williams, Director of Business Solutions for, in today's AuctionBytes Update newsletter (February 17) to get the lowdown on what's available for third-party sellers on their site. The article also delves into the topic of Feedback, around which there is some confusion in terms of leaving feedback for buyers.

Are you selling on We'd like to hear your experiences of selling on the site. Is it profitable? What are the pros and cons? What level merchant are you? Have you been thinking about selling on Amazon? Do you have reservations?

Update: Here's LINK to article.

Comments (26) | Permalink

Readers Comments What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Kevin Harmon

Sat Feb 16 22:47:22 2008

hey Ina,  I wierdly Blogged about Amazon yesterday:

-Kevin What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: jsicolts

Sun Feb 17 06:07:00 2008

Our Amazon experience? Not that good. Yes we sold a lot of product, but three years ago when I had Lymphoma and had to delay shipping orders we were PERMANTLY suspended. No amount of explaining to them that i was in the Hospital, or that we sent out all orders now and atre all caught up. We sell successfully on - Our favorite site for sure, and other sites, but after trying to get reinstated on Amazon we give up.
Amazon though STILL sends us lots of spam email - sort of like rubbing saly into our wound.
Shame on you Amazon. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Gosquo

Sun Feb 17 18:03:44 2008

Yesterday I transferred to Amazon a few ''Ebay Store Listings'' which were within hours of being up for another 30 day renewal.

After reading the terms and conditions page it occured to me that there seemed to be no facility to notify buyers that I was on vacation or otherwise.

Well, I will limit Amazon to those five listings.

On vacation? Carry those books along?

Methinks not.

Cancel the listings and relist later.
But that seems to prohibit listings in large numbers.

On to another venue. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Harley

Sun Feb 17 21:07:43 2008 has been a business life saver for us. Relying solely on eBay would cause me to lose sleep. In my second month, Amazon sales exceeded my ebay highest month ever.

Unlike eBay, Amazon products live until you take them down, this allows us to focus on marketing and reputation building for the product by harnessing the power of social shopping sites, networks, blogs, print media and deal sites using the power of customer reviews and coupon codes to drive volume sales.

I pay Amazon a 15% commission and I don't care, they deliver HIGH QUALITY buyers consistantly!

Get this! As sellers we can CALL, on a 800 number, a real live American seller account rep who knows how Amazon works. They have the worlds best customer service.

It's beyond me why eBay keeps DRIVING sellers to Amazon, it's also beyond me why Amazon's stock is depressed, perhaps it's because Bezos doesn't pander to the street and he realizes the most important thing is THE CUSTOMER.

You want a booth in JD's Flea Market or a kiosk in the Mall? What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Trish

Sun Feb 17 22:31:41 2008

We are silver level power sellers and not wanted by Amazon, because we sell jewelry and personal piercing items. Not only that, they were rude and made us PAY FIRST to be told to go away! Several emails to support were sent, as we were trying to request information about "stores by amazon" and not pro-merchants, and were told we had to pay the pro-merchant fees to ask about jewelry sales for a webstore, NOT pro-merchants. It is clearly stated that no new jewelry sales are being accepted, however, the CSR didn't care about that...only grabbing that pro-merchant fee. :o(

We were very interested, but now, even if they did start taking applications for this category again, I would doubt we would go there. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Patsy

Sun Feb 17 23:55:04 2008

I was selling  books on Half.Com but changed to selling on Amazon one year ago.Sales have been great.They deposit my money every 2 weeks like clock work. I have a Pro Merchant account. No Problems. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Expressions By Edith

Mon Feb 18 01:49:47 2008

I had a previous good relationship with Amazon as I did sell in their auction category.
After reading the article in AuctionBytes I decided to give them another try especially after reading that they were encouraging people in my category which is antique and estate jewelry.
I am a powerseller on Ebay and have a physical location as well.
I was REJECTED and told the category was closed.
Seems to be  a very different story than the one   Matt Williams gave Ina Steiner in his interview.
Amazon if you are reading this stand up and do the correct thing! What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Expressions By Edith

Mon Feb 18 01:58:28 2008

Wanted to add another comment to my previous blog.
It really does not matter what a merchant is selling. If amazon refuses to host that person because the category is "closed" they are putting a restriction on e-commerce and deciding for the public what items can be seen o nteir website What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: susan

Mon Feb 18 02:04:47 2008

absolutely true.  amazon should not act as jury for consumers.  if one has a legitimate business, it should be allowed to pay the fee and sell on amazon.  otherwise, amazon is putting itself up as the arbiter of merchandise and might as well be brick and morter and PURCHASE the goods the same way any other brick and morter store does, What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: JS

Mon Feb 18 10:24:06 2008

Being a small volume seller of unique types of collectibles and other oddities, I find that none of the other ''alternate'' sites are going to help me. I've tried going to many of these sites and doing a search for the items I sell, and I always come up zero. Yea, some might say that's good - no competition. I say it's bad - no buyers. Nobody will be looking for these types of items on these site. So, even though I'm not selling this week, it makes no difference. I will continue on eBay because that's where the sames are. Yea, you could call me a flea market seller, a garage sale. These other sites do not cater to my needs - at least not now. Talk about feeling screwed. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Andy

Mon Feb 18 12:19:34 2008

We went to the PeSA Conference in Chicago last April (2007), and the word in the hallways was "get your business off eBay as fast as you can."  It wasn't just irate sellers venting after a few cocktails, it was serious business advice.  At the time, we had 93% of our revenue flowing through eBay.

What struck me first about Amazon was the difference in how they talked with sellers at the event.  You could literally see it on the faces of those in the room - genuine interest and excitement.  When people interacted with eBay folk, people were generally looking somewhere between concerned and angry.  While eBay spends most of it's time telling sellers what they can't do, Amazon people were collaborating on what could be done at the moment, and what could be dreamed up for the future.

I understand, however, that when you are just submitting forms on Amazon, this may not be your experience. It only speaks to the value of being in a group like PeSA, and attending their events.  It was through our contacts at PeSA that we began our move to Amazon.

In May 2007, we launched about 50 items from our catalog.  By June it was about 250.  Listing on the site is NOT easy or intuitive.  Our sales were a trickle until mid-July when we became "featured" sellers in one of the categories.  It was like opening the floodgates.  

We did over $12k in July, and $30k in August.  Our goal was to have Amazon be about 20-30% of our overall revenue by the end of the year, starting the diversification away from eBay.

By the end of the year, there were several surprises.  First, Amazon was 55% of our revenue in December.  This surpassed our goals, and in a way, fundamentally changed our business overnight.  And, we STILL did not have our complete catalog posted on Amazon!

Second, our traffic AND conversions both peaked in the last 6 weeks of the year, combined with nearly 2.0 units per order on Amazon.  This combined to move nearly 75% of our total units shipped on Amazon for that period.  Many items that sat dead in our eBay Store (and did not have the sell-through to afford listing in core) sold like crazy on Amazon.

Third, while all of this new volume might have overwhelmed us in terms of customer service, order processing, and pack and ship, the reality was that it was EASIER to handle the same or more volume on Amazon.  I attribute that to the fact that Amazon actually has Customer Service (so I don't have 50 emails a day from people who can't figure out how to check out, combine an order, etc) with a live person on a phone.  Getting our data on orders to ship is just a simple download - no endlessly matching payments with orders, and dealing with "unpaid items".  But, most of all, there is an unmistakable difference in the quality of buyer - no where near the emails with questions essentially answered on the site, none of the emails where the buyer is just probing to see if you are "real", and no games from buyers looking to leverage discounts after the sale.  

When you run the same product through eBay and Amazon simultaneously, you get a stark contrast in terms of the buyers.  It's like a 10-1 difference in terms of people who have problems, both before, during, and after the sale.  Personally, I think it points to something eBay refuses to acknowledge or act upon at this time - that bad eBay buyers are a root cause of much of the grief on eBay.  

So, obviously, we are thrilled with Amazon at this time.  While I can see how some would find their vetting process to be difficult or unfair, as a seller who saw ASPs in constant decline on eBay because of unscrupulous or illogical sellers who had to do nothing but put their brother-in-law's credit card on the site, I see it as a way to ensure that sellers who do participate have success.  Sure, there is good healthy competition on the site, but significantly less death spiral price deflation that makes manufacturers want to keep their products from the site altogether.

And, while this article does do a good job of pointing out the various programs you can expand your business on Amazon, you really won't believe it until you get into the details.  FBA is an astounding program, and will make you think twice about whether you want to run your own warehouse any longer.  Webstore by Amazon is something that is not obvious at first glance, but is simple amazing when you get into the details.  And, the opportunities don't end there.

Amazon is not, by the way, the panacea or endgame for ecommerce sellers.  It is an important part of the mosaic that sellers now need to use.  The day of being an "ebay seller" are over and done.  Period.  Switching to Amazon may work for you, or it may not.  But, if it does work for your business model, and you are qualified to sell there, you can't pass up the opportunity any longer.  

I can't tell you how many buyers per week tell us that they have left eBay for good, and will only buy from us on Amazon or our website.  eBay has permanently damaged their marketplace, and even with best efforts will only recover a portion of what they have lost.

The best strategy is a mix of multiple marketplaces and strategies.  And, the best place to get info on how to start is with professional seller organizations like PeSA. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: tula

Mon Feb 18 14:06:51 2008

I've been considering adding Amazon to my mix of venues and it sounds like it might be a good way to go.  I think their "jury" process is a great idea.  Part of the problem ob eBay is is that it is clogged with too many sellers offering the same cheap crap, which degrades the buyer experience.  It sounds to me like Amazon is managing the quality and quantity of what they offer on the site, while providing high-quality buyers and a well-supported selling process.  I look forward to hearing from others who use Amazon. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: john

Mon Feb 18 16:11:21 2008

''get your business off eBay as fast as you can.''

You know, this is all fine and well for you megasellers, but for us ''little fish'' who resell garage/estate sale items, or personal possessions, we're royally screwed. I'm sick and tired, really, about hearing ''run away, run away, get off eBay as fast as you can''. Well, for some of us, there's no place to go. The other auction sites have no sales, no buyers, they are worthless. For us, there's NO PLACE to go. You can't use your own shopping web site for 20 items a month, it's ridiculous and not cost effective. So, you can see the frustration we little guys feel. We can't run and hide, or make eBay ''feel the pain'' like you can. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: michael goldie

Mon Feb 18 16:23:02 2008

we would love to sell on Amazon, in fact we do indirectly , we fill orders, shoot photos and write listings for three different sellers.  We cant get a contact at amazon.  Impossible to contact anyone in marketplace, at least for jewelry What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: don

Tue Feb 19 07:43:32 2008

my only complaint about amazon is that i have so many pending sales from supposed credit card issues. 95% end up as cancelled sales. Not because the consumer cancelled but because the credit card did not go through. The percentage of lost sales has been way to high and I believe that most were lost because the customer could not complete the sale due to a technical error on the website at the time, not a failure of the consumers card. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Susie

Tue Feb 19 08:11:58 2008

Contrary to what Matt Williams seems to have told Ina -  in the Amazon selling FAQs it states:

What type of products can I NOT sell on

These include: Apparel and Accessories (including shoes), Beauty, Gourmet Food, Industrial and Scientific, Jewelry & Watches, Personal Computer, Cell Phones, Service Magazines and Newspapers, Grocery, Adult Toys, Gift Cards and Gift Certificates, Guns and Ammunition, Photo Processing, Prescription Medication, and Tobacco and Alcohol.

I've been checking Amazon now for over a year, hoping that the jewelry catagory would open up, so read Ina's article with great interest (due to her specific mention of jewelry).  

Ina, could you please clarify this for all of us who sell items in categories stated above (not allowed).  We'd surely appreciate it. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Kristin

Tue Feb 19 09:31:23 2008

I am a glass painting artist and currently selling in several markets (not ecommerce), as well as doing a few shows a year.  I had decided that perhaps Amazon Marketplace was the way to go.  My business is small, and since I hand paint everything I sell I will never do a large volume of business.

The article was a good one, although from everything I've read, I'm a little more reluctant to sign on with Amazon than I was last weekend.

I am still waiting to get information from Amazon after emailing a new vendor inquiry.

I'd be interested to read more from small cottage industry sellers that have non-book related wares. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Skippy

Tue Feb 19 13:33:37 2008

I was going to sell some motor bearings on Amazon but it looks like I cannot, because I need some sort of catalog number, and I am under the impression that only a ProMerchant can request assignment of new catalog numbers.  I guess all I can sell are used books, because they already have a standard IBN (or whatever it's called) number.

Too bad Amazon won't let small sellers sell items that are not already catalogued on Amazon.  I think they are missing out on alot of extra business. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: KDL

Tue Feb 19 16:08:18 2008

I sold on Amazon and what I didn't like was how other sellers can use your listings, how they hide the buyers phone # (makes it hard to contact them if they don't check thier eMail and there is no other way to reach them in case of a problem/question), thier seller plans are confusing to say the least, they don't allow enough $$$ for shipping, so I have to jack up the weight on some items, and I didn't see a lot of exposure on google like I was hoping for my products.
I offer custom made items for my customers that take about two weeks to get, so can't sell that on Amazon due them pressuring sellers to "Ship NOW".
That being said, thier customer service is GREAT and the buyers are a little better there than eBay. What's Your Experience with the River? What's Your Experience with the River?

by: Peter Leeflang/CEO Leeflang Archives Corp.

Wed Feb 20 08:58:36 2008

We sell antique magazines and antique (autographed and non autographed) books and had the worst possible experience with trying to switch to the Amazon.

1) First we tried listing a few test items (autographed used books) there. The dialogue eventually told us that we can only list books that way that are in the ISBN numbered catalogue. If teh books is there, we cannot add that it was signed/autographed. The dialogue suggested signing up for a pro-merchant (now called web store) account to be able to add new catalog entries ourselves,

2) So we set up a web store (pro-merchant) trial account and wanted to add our autographed books there. Now the web store dialogue allows us toi classify what we will sell INCLUDING books. So we selected Books as our main products from the list of options. Next the dialogue let us add products. When we tried adding any book, it told us for each title that this item is closed for use, so cannot be utilized. It does not allow us to add any customized title ourselves.

3) Since we had a problem we could not solve, we looked for a phone number to contact. Initially there was no phone number anywhere where it should be. After half an hour of research (clicking around randomly) we find out that the FAQ (how illogical), after answering some questions first (!), will eventually go to a dialogue that will allow us to ask for a call back.

4) Once we were called back, the rep told us that web stores (so pro-merchant accounts) are closed for selling books. Only the regular selling facility (which disallows adding entries to their catalogue, can be used for that. That wa sthe method we tried before, which woudl not allow adding customized catalogue entries and was therefore useless.

It basically means that I cannot sell books or magazines on Amazon, since their catalogue is incomplete an/dor inaccurate. Beyond not having all autographed and old non-ISBN books, in their catalogue, they also have no old magazines in there.

5) Next, since AMAZON DOES NOT WANT US, I tried to cancel the web store account. That was a horror in itself. It took another half hour to find a well hidden 'close account' page, which only tells one to email them via their contact form. So I did, telling them to close my account.

6) The reply I get back on my request, is an email to fill out again the contact form and reconfirm that I wnat to close the account. So I reconfirm teh closure.

7) Then I get an email from a rep, telling me that I'm at the wrong place to close teh account, due to me being a merchant (obviously I was logged in as a merchant account!) and should be using a different contact form of merchant t echnical support. So I did

8) The contact form is really no contact form, but a call back dialogue again. So now I have to wait till I get placed in line on the phone to cancel my trial of the most userunfriendly business venue ever.

Conclusion: Ebay does not need to adapt to the river....Amazon already adapted to them. :-)

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