Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon July 21 2014 21:04:52

Would You Transfer an Unfulfillable Order to Another Seller?

By: Ina Steiner

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Would you transfer an unfulfillable order to another seller? That's what Amazon is asking its sellers in a survey, as reported in Tuesday's EcommerceBytes newsletter.

In one question, Amazon asks sellers, "If you were unable to ship within 2 - 3 business days, would you be interested in transferring your order to another seller to avoid a bad customer experience and having your Seller Rating negatively impacted?"

A seller who took the survey told me that he thinks that's fine, and in fact, he has already done that. "I've ordered product from other Amazon sellers when I ran out of stock or there was a problem with my stock that I didn't see until I went to pack it."

He's also been on the receiving end, though he says only a few sellers who purchased such orders acknowledged it. "Most seem to pretend that they are buying a gift for a family member or friend, but they are not usually gift type purchases. Maybe they're concerned that a competitor might screw up the order on purpose," the seller speculated.

This seller feels that fulfilling the order using another seller helps avoid any problems with Amazon for canceling an order.

What do you think of the practice, and would you participate if Amazon (or eBay or any other marketplace) offered it as an option?




Comments (25) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Mon Jul 21 21:16:16 2014

''After receiving an order, Amazon expects a Marketplace seller to ship the order within 2 - 3 business days.''

What a breath of fresh air in comparison to eBay who expects you to ship the order instantly.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous

Mon Jul 21 23:20:20 2014

I think it's a great idea. I'd do it.

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 05:49:01 2014

only on my death bed

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jul 22 06:33:07 2014

You know, they had me on board with this idea until I read "to avoid a bad customer experience and having your Seller Rating negatively impacted?"

In the real world, things happen. Companies like Amazon and eBay emphasize bad customer experience when things do happen.  No thank you.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jul 22 07:08:07 2014

I agree with Rexford on the impact of the wording used for the motivation:  are sellers being asked to do it to avoid a negative consequence - or out of positive customer service.


Way back in a past century before civilization declined, I worked for Macy's - If the item a customer needed was out of stock, they would PHONE competing stores to find if THEY had the item in stock. If item found, Macy's would see if the store would hold it for the customer.  The customer would be notified where to go pick up and purchase the item.

BTW - Macy's would get reciprocal phone calls when the competition was out of stock.
Amazing how that worked so well.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 07:47:36 2014

@Basset:

> I worked for Macy's - If the item a customer
> needed was out of stock, they would PHONE
> competing stores to find if THEY had the
> item in stock. If item found, Macy's would
> see if the store would hold it for the customer.
> The customer would be notified where to go
> pick up and purchase the item.

Ever see ''Miracle on 34th Street''? That's actually a key plot point... and for doing so, it's one of the reasons Kris Kringle gets committed to a mental hospital. (I believe it all has a happy ending... :-)

I deal in niche products, and I get product requests for specific items all the time. If I can fulfill a request by digging out the necessary piece, of course I will, but if I don't have it on hand, the fastest resolution is to try to locate an example elsewhere and point the customer at it. I know they'll remember my knowledge and/or aid to them the next time they need help in that area.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jul 22 07:55:02 2014

I have had Amazon sellers come to my listings on eBay, purchase items and request that I Blind Ship their customer.  I find these sellers extremely professional. They know the ropes, and have their customers shipping information set and ready to go when they complete payment.

I even have one Amazon seller who now emails me directly and requests a PayPal invoice instead of completing the purchase through eBay.

I was apprehensive at first, but a dozen transactions without a hitch later, I am happy to have extra the business without the expense of eBay's cut.

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by: Cavewomansman22 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 07:55:16 2014

Having done this very thing in the past, I think it's a worthy idea. Also, the question "are sellers being asked to do it to avoid a negative consequence - or out of positive customer service?"---why can't it be both? It shows that you are at least willing to go above and beyond your responsibilities. Nothing wrong with that.  

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Jul 22 08:15:49 2014

I would be more than happy to help out and ship products, and have done so. However, on the very rare times, I needed a product, I have it shipped to me so that I can be sure the item is up to my standards as I have been burned enough buying stuff that I don't trust many sellers. There are a few sellers that I do trust and am willing for them to ship an item on for me, but they are in the minority.

I even have an Australian customer that when she finds something on line that the seller won't ship to OZ for her, will send me the money to buy the product including shipping, plus at least an extra $10 for my trouble. I think I have shipped her three different items at this point just in the last couple of months and I'm sure she will be back. I make money on items I've never even had in stock.

I ship within 24 hours so the 2-3 days doesn't help me in the least, but if needed I do explain to the customer what is going on and ask their permission to take longer. Of note, I've only needed another seller to fulfill an order maybe 3-4 times in 12+ years of selling.  

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by: candy7122 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 08:23:30 2014

I have done this several times on Ebay.  I just put in my customers address as the shipping address.  I don't worry about another seller trying to sabotage me as I feel like they have enough to worry about with their own feedback and DSR ratings.  I buy under a "buyer" account only and keep that separate from my "seller" account so they do not realize I am buying for a customer.  I have never had an issue.  Has helped me out several times from getting a negative or low DSR ratings and on Ebay you need to do what ever you can to avoid low DSR ratings and negative feedback.

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by: Crinc This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 08:24:45 2014

I have done this twice in the past and is a way of meeting my commitment to the customer as well as well as reducing eBay's ridiculous defect system. On the last occasion I was mortified when I sold my last pair of Sandals only to find they were both left ones when I came to pack them! YES I did check my deliveries but mistakes do happen which eBay will never admit to.  Contacted another seller, explained my predicament, emailed a copy of the customer's order, paid him via PayPal and he fulfilled my order for me.  One happy customer- One happy seller to got an additional sale and a very relieved me having played a "get out of jail (defect) card".  Happens all the time in retail.  Report in the paper the other day of a Pizza place buying potato wedges at a supermarket as they had run out of their own supply!!  Be honest with other sellers and they will be happy to help you out when you find yourself in a tight spot. One day you may reap the benefit of their mistake.  :)  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jul 22 08:43:50 2014

a_c_ green - You're right!  I forgot all about that policy being brought out in the movie. Yes, it does end well!  

Macy's was still doing that in the early 1980's but after all the re-structuring and buy-outs I don't know if they still do it or not.  

I only go to malls when someone drags me kicking and screaming. Anytime I have been drug through Macys or ANY department store in the last several years, it seems like sales people are very scarce. Except for cosmetics & fragrance: I guess that is where the money is.

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 09:03:01 2014

About once a month I'll find that something is damaged or missing. I just order it from someone else and drop ship it. Usually I'll still make a profit on it.

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by: IndyTom This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 09:09:37 2014

I would do it. I don't like the threat though. If this keeps up I will create webstores and heavily promote them and say adios to Amazon too. That will be painful but less so than the heavy hand.

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by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 09:23:51 2014

SURE!!  I already do it all the time, and have for years.

However, this is not on Amazon, it's with my own online store. There are a number of us selling in a niche collecting area (where this practice is most helpful), and we all pass along customers to each other if we don't have what they want.

Amazon is pretty big and anonymous but you might consider the practice ''paying it forward'' among sellers who don't know each other.The idea is that if you can't fulfill the order this time, maybe next time it will be someone else's turn and they'll refer the customer on and you end up with the sale.  

The whole idea is to get customers coming back to the venue to buy more. Someone who can't find what they want isn't likely to return. Someone who gets 110% customer service from caring sellers, certainly will.

Shoppers are not dumb, they recognize caring sellers, appreciate them and are much more likely to patronize them.

Referring customers along when you can't supply them is one of the easiest let alone totally free ways to build warm fuzzy feelings for your store !! and they WILL be back.

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by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 09:28:47 2014

@ Basset - LOLOLOL !! Are the fragrance gals still leaping out from behind the counters atomizing passersby ?  

I remember Macy's when they used to do this and I would have to dodge them going down the aisles.

You could sniff the air entering the store and pretty much tell where the fragrance and cosmetic department was.  

However I think this practice has been gone for some years - probably a cost saving measure but maybe due to customer complaints.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Tue Jul 22 09:43:54 2014

I've ordered another for a customer. Found one cheaper on Amazon and had it sent without paperwork as a gift.

I screwed up misplacing the item, but my customer deserved what she ordered as soon as possible.

If Amazon withdraws fees and ratings from Seller A, I would be ok with it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Jul 22 10:07:02 2014

@timeaftertime

Ooooh - The fragrance ninja stealth attack. One of Mr. Basset's pet peeves.

He took to telling them that if they sprayed near him he would have an allergic reaction and die a loud and horrible death that would psychologically scar forever anyone who saw it happen. He then would say that as a widow I would then sue and own (whatever store he was at).

They would quickly back away from him. It is probably due to people like Mr. B that they discontinued the practice.


on OP's topic:   I sell mostly one of a kind items, but I have referred customers to other sellers before, when I did not have what they were looking for - but knew of a seller who might.  

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by: dkkdolls This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Jul 22 13:20:05 2014

On a rare occasion when I have been unable to fill an order I have first of all sought to buy the item from another dealer if I can do so and break even. If not, I have indeed transferred them to another dealer, especially if the dealer is a friend or someone I know. I have had people transfer orders to me as well.  I do not try to lowball the price from anyone else. Because some of my items are at a mall space and I have so much things can on rare occasion get lost in inventory or sell out before I can get to them. I do all I can to fill orders. There's also times the item is rather cheap (as in the case of a beanie baby) and not worth spending hours if it does not show up quickly in the usual places.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jul 22 14:52:12 2014

Among artists we often transfer a commission to another artist if we already have too much work or its a topic that we just don't care to tackle.  I see nothing wrong with it.

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