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Thu Aug 15 2013 16:27:30

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

By: Julia Wilkinson

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I went to reprice my items on Amazon the other day (not least because the deadline was approaching for avoiding long-term storage fees, as mentioned in the recent FBA newsletter), and in addition to the usual mandatory markdowns I need to make to my more common items to stay competitive, this time I noticed that even some of my more obscure items had much lower-priced doppelgangers.

It seems Amazon's success has led to increasing number of sellers, who are putting increasing numbers of items up -- a good thing for Amazon and buyers. But for sellers like me, who sell hard-to-find (and some downright strange) media items, while we may still sell items at a healthy pace, it seems we are more and more finding competition even with our rarer stuff.

One example: a while back I was the only person bothering to list a, say, 1952 Pomona College Yearbook (the "Metate"). Now there are two of us. Not such a big deal, right? Wrong. This seller has slashed the price down from my not-unheard-of-for-an-old-yearbook price of $49 to a fire-sale-like $9.95. ("Seriously?" I want to ask, to take a buzzword from "Grey's Anatomy.").

This does not necessarily mean I must mark my item down to $9.94, or similar; but for Fulfillment by Amazon items, if the item doesn't sell, I will indeed need to do just that  before 365 days are up, to avoid long-term storage fees.

A repricer might be one solution to at least stay on top of things, but I really don't like them because I like to reprice only based on a number of factors I feel only a human can determine.

I recall reading a similar situation with downward price pressure happened on eBay with Depression Glass. At first, it sold for hefty prices, but then as more and more of it came out of the woodwork and Grandma's attic, the prices for it on eBay apparently tumbled. (Unfortunately I cannot find the article about this I remember; if one of you readers knows of one, please let me know). So we may now be facing a similar situation on Amazon, at least as far as the media categories go.

My question for you is, how do you handle this? With a repricer? If so, what are the pros and cons of that for you? Have you ever seen one of your items auto-priced down painfully far from where it started? Or repriced by software so low, it was  to where you would not have lowered it yourself?

Finally, do you notice this phenomenon of more items and lower prices on Amazon, at least in the media categories, especially books? (Books and other paper reading material, of course, are a whole 'nother topic, and I'd be happy to opine on my advice for Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and new Washington Post newspaper owner on how to  better monetize it).

But, for now, what do you think of this downward price pressure and what are your thoughts on repricer tools? Post a comment here!




Comments (10) | Permalink

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Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Aug 15 19:58:29 2013

If a repricer is setting your price lower than you are willing to set it yourself then there is either a problem with the repricer or you are doing it wrong.

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: jumpinjj This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 15 20:55:17 2013

We've encountered this numerous times with obscure media (we do a lot of that on Amazon). Seems to be stuff coming out of the woodworks, so I believe you are right, we're seeing a lot of downward pressure due to sheer volume VS. low demand for the very obscure. I used to sell yearbooks on ebay for 25-50 many years ago, and I'm very familiar with the quandry of the 9.99 or lower seller screwing this up. But there's another factor with the yearbooks: there's websites now that have been scanning yearbooks, and they offer you NEW printouts of them, or just a few pages, etc, effectively damaging the marketplace for the originals, or so I believe/ and have witnessed... so I don't try on annuals. With all things, the price is a moving target- nostalgia changes, demand changes, even supply changes - grandma's depression glass DOES come out of the attic when everybody sees the ebay prices, then next year the market is flooded. Baseball cards, etc etc. Tons of markets are different. Lots has changed. It will continue to change. Tech changes, and alters markets. I've been on ebay since 98 and LOTS of things that sold well in the 90s are worthless now... and vice versa.

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 16 00:26:30 2013

I personally don't pay any attention to what price someone else sells the the same media item I have. I make sure what I sell is quality and worth the money I am asking for it. I also take extra care in packing and shipping the item. I don't have negatives for my media items, the competition does and why? Because they do not post in their ad how the book or other media item is worn and torn and that is why it is so under priced. That said, I also believe the printed book is unfortunately,
on a fast track to becoming a dinosaur in the media market for the next few years. However, I do predict the printed book will return in the future as a safer alternative to using small handheld electronic devices that emit small amounts of radiation.  

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 16 03:11:43 2013

"This seller has slashed the price down from my not-unheard-of-for-an-old-yearbook price of $49 to a fire-sale-like $9.95. ("Seriously?" I want to ask, to take a buzzword from "Grey's Anatomy.")"

what i would do is BUY that $9.95 copy and then have a second copy to sell for $50

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Fri Aug 16 04:16:16 2013

Seems like lowballers are not just an Ebay problem. I see books priced for a penny and other items priced such that the seller would lose money if they had to actually ship the item anywhere and I wonder how these people make any money? Unless it's part of a strategy to get more exposure or higher ranking, lowball prices make no sense.

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: BQool - making life easier for sellers This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Aug 16 05:53:50 2013

Repricers will save sellers quite a bit of time while helping them be more competitive.  Most importantly, you can always set rules to prevent it from pricing lower than what you're comfortable with.  

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Aug 16 07:35:26 2013

Mindelec's idea is brilliant.  Buy low, sell high.

I read many years ago that eBay had really hurt the collectibles market as it relates to pricing. This is nothing new really. The only thing that I don't understand is why so many sellers give their products away when they really don't have to.

From what I understand, this is the reason that Amazon has not opened up their clothing category to the average seller. Amazon "retailers" don't like it, and I can't say I blame them.

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Aug 16 09:51:04 2013

The low priced media items are not a new phenomenon at Amazon. Ever hear of penny sellers? Before the days of FBA MANY books were listed for less than a dollar and there were constant races to the bottom. How to deal with it? Forget the repricer. That, IMHO, just makes things worse. Set your prices for goods according to your costs and what you want to make in profit for the goods; don't send your stuff to the FBA program so you won't feel so under the gun to change prices.

I just came back to selling again on Amazon a little over a year ago after about a 5 year hiatus. Things haven't changed much. The 'penny' books are now the FBA books still being sold by sellers with less than stellar feedback, and the sellers that want the earth for their goods, also with less than stellar feedback (yet many sales so either somewhere they have normal priced items or people just love to spend $40-140 for something worth about $10.). To be in the middle of the pack, set an honest price according to YOUR rules (no one else’s including a repricer), Have a comment that is particular to the item you are selling describing it and it’s condition instead of some boilerplate like “Legendary seller” under the condition category. I think that the field I sell in has more than doubled in the last year, but I stand out because I know my category and it is obvious. You have to be a standout as well.

Yes, many new sellers are coming on board Amazon as they expand into more and more goods, and more and more people are desperate to sell ANYTHING!  This is your business so you need to be in charge of it. The most troubling thing in Julie’s note is her pressure that she feels to get FBA sold within 365 days. Pressure like that gives one ulcers and makes for pricing mistakes. The rarer an item is, the longer it might take to sell especially at a good price. I know some want all their goods to roll over several times a year and they may have a strategy for that, but I don’t think it can be expected of rare, hard to find items.

I could say more, but I have to package up some Amazon orders :)

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 16 09:59:47 2013

The increase in sellers have driven prices down. Most of the time, they just want to get rid of an item and make whatever they can.
I find it frustrating but do not trust the repricer tools. A good way to take a big loss.
@ mindelec....I have done exactly that with an electronics item. Purchased the ridiculous low priced,(90.00 low price) resold it on Amazon and made 43%. Why they dropped the price so low is beyond me. Inexperience or just plain dumb.  

Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge   Even Obscure Items Pose Amazon Repricing Challenge

by: Theresa This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 16 17:21:28 2013

You do not have to pay long-term storage fees for a single item.....the fee only applies to quantities of a specific ASIN that exceed one.



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