Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Mar 21 2012 10:25:45

Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

By: Ina Steiner

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Businessweek has an interesting piece today about Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) that is well worth reading. I'm always struck by how Amazon studies numbers to wring efficiency out of everything they do, so it was interesting to learn that the company thinks about such minutia as the density and pressure in the air pillows it uses to cushion products in boxes they ship to customers.

This is something that the top guys think about - the Vice President of FBA, Tom Taylor, was familiar with this issue, not just a manager of procurement or shipping.

The Businessweek article covered Amazon's shipping operations and the effect that third-party FBA sales had on costs. "At the same time, third-party sales have contributed to shipping expenses, which soared 55 percent to $4 billion, compared with the $1.6 billion in fees from outside vendors the company collected last year. The company will need to find other ways to compensate for the higher spending."

The publication quoted Jason Helfstein, an analyst at New York-based Oppenheimer & Co. "You either raise the price for Prime, you get people to put more items in the cart at once, or you sell more digital media, which has no shipping costs."

Taylor told Businessweek that Amazon negotiates low rates with shipping carriers and passes on savings to sellers and consumers. (Do you find this to be the case?) But with non-FBA orders, third-party sellers pay full shipping rates since they self-fulfill, and Amazon does not pass along the total shipping cost they collect from buyers to the sellers.

Every time the USPS raises rates, non-FBA sellers eat the increase except on the rare occasions when Amazon adjusts the shipping allowance. See this page to learn about Amazon Shipping Rates and Credits.

There are probably a million ways to shave pennies or dollars off of everything we do - could you benefit from a closer review of your operations? And what do you think about Amazon's shipping rates and credits?

Here's a link to the Businessweek article.




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Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Mar 21 12:47:20 2012

I don't sell on Amazon and never will. They're nearly as bad as ebafia.

Collecting money for shipping on behalf of a non FBA 3rd party seller and then refusing to reimburse the seller is legally questionable.

By not passing along the reduced shipping rates Amazon has negotiated to non FBA 3rd party sellers and then refusing to adjust the shipping ceiling when rates go up not only is coercing sellers into FBA and simply doesn't pass the smell test.

For the last 2-3 years, Amazon appears to be pushing the edge of legality in their treatment of 3rd party sellers and adopting the ebafia attitude of thumbing their noses at laws our governments won't enforce.

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Mar 21 13:50:06 2012

Having found that expensive commercial air pillows are made from thin plastic and can be easily punctured, we found a reasonably low cost solution.

We purchase different size 2 ML zip lock bags which can be inflated with an air pump and sports ball needle, then taped closed to prevent them from opening in transit.

The many sizes of bags available make it easy to customize to our needs, and at 2ML thickness, they are much more resistant to puncture than the thin commercial plastic air pillows are commonly made from.

A thousand zip lock bags take up much less space than the equivalent number of pre-made commercial air pillows.


Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Mar 21 14:04:25 2012

My source of air pillows is (mostly) from Amazon purchases as well as other vendors that I buy from online.

The best part is that they're free and sufficiently durable for my purposes.

The WORST part is that the inflated air-pillows take up a lot of room and are difficult to store.

It would be lovely if I had enough sales volume that would make it worthwhile to purchase an air-pillow inflating & sealing machine!! :-)

Then, I'd only need to find a square foot or two on a workbench for the machine itself... and the extra rolls of flat (inflatable) air-pillow material could be easily stored away on a shelf.

Having one of the machines would also give me the option of being able to make various sized pillows AS WELL AS the longer thin sheets of inflated cushioning. (The ''thin sheet'' style isn't as flexible as traditional bubble wrap, but it does allow me to use smaller packaging for some items.)

Still... even though there's the hassle of storage, considering that it's FREE, I really have nothing to complain about.

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

by: fvh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 21 15:23:27 2012

I recently began selling on Amazon in addition to my other venues and was surprised by how inaccurate their shipping credits are.

Most of the time, I pay more to ship than I am credited, but on occassion it works the other way around and I get creditted almost twice as much as necessary! This seems sloppy to me, especially for a company like Amazon. But as Ming mentioned, this is just one more way to coerce sellers into using FBA.

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

by: fvh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 21 15:28:44 2012

I forgot to mention that it could be worse... Amazon could NOT give us third party sellers any shipping credits and proceed tell us to offer ''free'' shipping.  

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Mar 21 18:36:46 2012

I bought a deluxe Kindle last year just days before the Fire was announced. No buy back deal from Amazon like with all the buy back iPad deals around.

It came in a box that was large enough to hold at least a half a dozen of these large size Kindles and had exactly two air pillows one of which had apparently deflated en route. They might as well hadn't of bothered putting any pillows in the box as they were useless given the size of shipping box.

So much for Amazon shipping practices -- cut pennies off their shipping costs and make UPS pay out when the item arrives broken from totally inadequate packing.

Has Amazon been hiring former ebafia people?

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Thu Mar 22 09:35:33 2012

Have you seen one of Amazon's most recent TV ads?

A smartly dressed young female professional is walking down a busy, but beautiful city street, lined with row houses.  She gets to her house, and right there leaning against her door is an Amazon box (with large bold ''AMAZON'' on the front).  She excitedly runs up the stairs, and opens the box to find a new Kindle Fire tablet.

My wife blurts out ''Good thing no one stole it.  I mean it's sitting there in plain view of a busy sidewalk and is obviously something of value from Amazon - at minimum a DVD.''

I've ordered a lot of things from Amazon, but I don't recall ever having to sign for anything.  Is ''signature confirmation'' even an option?

I recently bought a clothing rack for my mother-in-law that showed as delivered, but she never got it (a large box too).  I called Amazon and they said, no problem, we'll send another.  I asked specifically if I could get signature confirmation to make sure she gets it this time - I would even pay extra - they told me ''sorry, we can't offer that''.

How do they account for these kinds of losses?

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Thu Mar 22 09:47:22 2012

@stockmiser

Any losses (we've never had a package stolen off our porch in more than 10 years of making Amazon purchases) are likely offset by the tremendous visibility that Amazon receives by having their logo  sitting on neighborhood stoops across the country.  

Perminate Link for Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does   Do Online Merchants Think about Air Pillow Density? Amazon Does

This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
Web Site

Thu Mar 22 23:20:50 2012

I use prime and never order 2 books at once.  Why?  Because if I order 1, it is well packed and arrives safely.  If I order 2 or more, they are thrown into a grossly oversized  box, no packing other than a couple of air pillows, and arrive mangled after bouncing into each other for 100's of miles.



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