Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed May 25 2016 20:37:32

Who Owns the Customer on eBay and Amazon?

By: Ina Steiner

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If you make a sale on eBay or Amazon, do you have the right to market to the customer in the future? Whose customer is it, anyway?

A new market research report from Internet Retailer raises the issue once again. In an article about a survey of 200 consumers conducted as part of its research, Internet Retailer said while some consumers make purchases from a marketplace seller's own website, the majority do not.

The publication quoted an executive at Indigenous Software who said, "Retailers are not typically building loyalty with customers on marketplaces. These are customers of the marketplace, not the retailers."

The article also noted that Amazon prohibits marketplace sellers from marketing to consumers who buy their products on Amazon.com, viewing them as Amazon customers.

So what do sellers think? In general, experienced sellers are much more cautious about trying to market to Amazon shoppers, even when it comes to the packing slips and inserts inside packages sent to shoppers. 

However, almost anything goes on eBay once a customer has placed an order - at that point, sellers consider the customer their own.

The attitude of buyers is likewise different on Amazon versus eBay. Generally speaking, shoppers feel they are buying from Amazon even when purchasing from a 3rd party seller, while it's quite clear on eBay that they are buying from a seller who is independent of eBay.

What do you think - do you consider marketplace customers to be your own? And do you try to draw Amazon and/or eBay customers to your own site? What techniques are most effective?




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Perminate Link for Who Owns the Customer on eBay and Amazon?   Who Owns the Customer on eBay and Amazon?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Wed May 25 21:03:40 2016

An eBay seller owns the buyer only if they can attract the buyer away from eBay, otherwise (regretfully) eBay owns the buyers who come to their site ...

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by: tb This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 00:31:05 2016

"Customer Acquisition" (what I like to call it) has always been difficult. In almost all cases we set our prices significantly lower on our website (higher on marketplaces to offset the fees). Yet we've done everything including telling the customer flat-out (ina nice way) that they paid more on A/E. It makes no difference. They re-order on the marketplaces instead of our website. Makes no sense.

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This user has validated their user name. by: gettingby

Thu May 26 01:23:46 2016

As a buyer, I normally consider myself the seller's customer -- both on eBay and Amazon (unless Amazon is the seller, of course.) At least until the package arrives. As to future purchases and the venue vs. seller's website... it depends...

When I buy something on eBay or Amazon and the presentation is unprofessional, I won't even visit their website -- much less make a purchase there. Probably I wouldn't buy from that seller again, anyway, but if they have an item I can't live without, I'd prefer to pay more and make my purchase on the marketplace so that I know that there are some protections in place in the event that something goes wrong in the transaction.

Unprofessional would be when any of the following are true:
1) it arrives in an obviously re-used box (this includes liquor boxes, or any branded box from a supermarket or department store);
2) there is no packing slip;
3) the shipping 'label' is printed on paper and taped to the box;
4) newspaper has been used for cushioning (ink everywhere -- on me, the product -- just yuck!) -- or used foam rubber (like from a seat cushion), actual popcorn (even in a sealed bag), disposable diapers, formed Styrofoam from the seller's most recent purchase, or any other material not intended for shipping. I've received items packaged in all of these, and more inappropriate stuff.

If a purchase arrives quickly, is professionally packaged, and the seller's correspondence has been limited and professional -- I will check out their website. If the website is professional looking and easy to navigate, I'm likely to buy there. At that point, I am the "seller's" official customer.

I don't know what criteria other buyers use, but those are mine, and a number of others I've spoken with. I have a cousin who shops... and I mean SHOPS... on eBay a lot. She lives a couple of hours away from any decent shopping, and hates mall shopping anyway -- I'm sure she believes shopping was why the internet was created. Anyway... she has actually texted me with "can you believe THIS??" and photos of a package she's just opened.
Presentation make a big difference.  

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 03:19:00 2016

If its ebays and anazins customer they shoukd be on the hook for problems.

They are the sellers customers..its up to you to brand yourself correctly so you rise above the ebay moniker

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 26 03:39:48 2016

>>3) the shipping 'label' is printed on paper and taped to the box;<<

Not sure why this is a turn off from being unprofessional to you. I'm disabled and if I had to make room for one more item that I need close at hand, like a label dispenser, I think my desk might collapse. I have since I started selling, used a professional style postage label through endicia taped to the box. I've sold for 14 years and have sold 10's of thousands of items in those years. Hard to believe that people wouldn't buy from me due to that issue.

To the topic of this thread, I feel that they are my customer whether from Amazon and definitely on eCRATER. I won't touch ebay with a ten foot pole. I find it nonsensical that ebay and Amazon try so hard to not have any contact better buyers and sellers. I understand THEIR position, but I don't agree with it. I have had buyers that want to communicate with me about something that has nothing to do with the order other than she bought a sewing pattern and we are both sewers, but all the emails come through the Amazon system and I have to respond within a certain amount of time or else my metrics get fouled up. That is just silly.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 05:54:31 2016

Who really cares? Don't obsess over it......If its your customer they will return to rebuy from you. If you screw them over they won't.

Instead of obsessing over who belongs to who sellers need to obsess over good service.

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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 07:31:49 2016

I think the buyer belong to BOTH the venue and the customer.

Remember, it took BOTH parties to get the customer.

Although Amazon,ebay,etc provides the venue, it is the SELLERS who draws them in based on their products.  The venues are also PAID for their service of providing the venue,and attract customers through advertising etc, so they receive their reward for their part.

I feel the seller has a right to advertise to the customers no matter what the venue. It is up to the customers to decide if they want to buy from the seller on their own website or elsewhere.

I have customers who do and customers who do not. And if they do not buy from my website, they still continue to buy from me from the venues' sites. Both work for me.

I would hope that most buyers do not have the same "professional and unprofessional" feelings abotu a seller based on Gettingby' standards.

I do agree with part of their #4 issues, I find 1-3 jut not realistic for most sellers.

I find the box and label things really nonsensical.
Who cares how the label is printed.  The fact that it is printed makes it professional enough.
The box thing, well with the things we sell and the order in which people buy them, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be able to buy the "RIGHT BOXES" to fit every order.
So sometimes we have to find or create the packaging. However, it is ALWAYS clean. Besides recycling is a GOOD thing.

When I get a clean reused box, I think, "smart shipper". Why WASTE good boxes. I do not care what is on the OUTSIDE of the box, I only care about what is on the INSIDE of it. However, I too HATE the peanuts. But sometimes they have a good purpose (very rarely though).

I have heard people complain over the TYPE of bag the item is sealed in, which I also find ridiculous.

If it is clean and new WHO CARES, especially if it did not cause harm to your item.

As all sellers know, packaging can get VERY expensive and those costs must be passed on on to the BUYERS, so if buyers want fast, cheap and free, they should not demand expensive packaging which is going to be thrown away in minutes or seconds.

Now this is not to say packaging has no value, it surely does, but it does not have to cost a lot and should NOT be given more value than it is worth in the sale as a whole.

I also think that the more they buy from you the more they will feel comfortable buying from you in other places.

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by: GotToGetOut This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 08:35:58 2016

At one point, in talking to Griff, I had him tell me that I COULD NOT market anything to a buyer that I got from Ebay. How ridiculous and how could they monitor that?

When I am a buyer, I am happy to pay 8-10% less to a seller for the same product. That's why I usually include a note to my buyers indicating they will save 10% on every order if they buy directly from me. 10% is a good figure for me because that only includes the cost of the item and not the shipping.

I find I get many repeat outside customers that way. It's tough, though, to get a mailing list from sales on Ebay. Does anyone have an easy way to do that automatically :-)

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by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 08:56:57 2016

@getting by. are you kidding me? you have an id called (gettingby) yet you expect sellers to buy new boxes and packing materials to ship you're items? I bet the costs of new packing materials would climb to a price you might not like. Then once the price climbed to pay for all that new packing material shipping would be to high. Sweating the small stuff should be the least of anyone's problems in life.



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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 09:23:08 2016

@gettingby

You would probably be better off buying at a brick n mortar store with your standards, that way you don't have to worry about packaging and labeling.

I'm willing to bet more than one seller has blocked you from ever buying from them again. Excessively high standards belong at Nordstrom's or Macy's not on some auction site.

If you need the pat on the back for buying something then a brick n mortar store is right up your alley.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 26 09:40:15 2016

Since I do reviews for Amazon and buy from them a lot, I get lots of Amazon branded boxes which I think are perfectly acceptable to reuse, with all old labels taken off, for Amazon purchases.

As to not having a packing slip, that also screams of unprofessional as uually that is in combination with a seller that scrawls my name and address on a package with no return address, no packing slip either. With printers as cheap as they are I don't understand how someone can sell on line without a printer or a scale.

One of the nicest things about selling on ecrater is they really are our customers. We can write to them. They can write to us. If they want special delivery and I can accomodate them we can send them an invoice to reflect the charge (but only before they actually pay).

Some venues need to get off their high horse as we helped make them what they are today.

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by: 1FerretsTreasures This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 26 09:42:23 2016

The customer ''belongs'' to whoever:

1) carries the risk of providing the goods to the buyer; and,
2) whomever the buyer gripes to if something is wrong.

In the case of Amazon, right from day 1 they were clear and consistent in ensuring that they provided the guarantee to buyers. The entire site is set up so that it is clear who someone is buying from. There is little to no branding of a seller's listings or ''store.''

Conversely, eBay has been all over. They speak out of two sides of their mouth with respect to positioning to buyers and to sellers.

As for customers attitudes, all will differ. Some want to spend money on the visual - but that's true in the non-web world as well. Personally, never made sense to me, but to each their own.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu May 26 09:51:39 2016

They send their money to me, I send them the merchandise.

The customer is mine!

I am eBay's customer. . .

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by: Linda This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 09:52:43 2016

What the heck is with the peanuts? They offer more cushioning and protection than bubble. So what if they stick a bit, its still cheaper and cheaper saves the buyer $$$. I will admit that I only used peanuts that can be recycled. As long as my item reaches the buyer safely, we are both happy!

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 10:17:42 2016

The topis is abit misleading.

It doesnt explain WHEN the customer is or isnt yours.

Once you complete a transaction in either place - no one can stop you from contacting them - though both places sure try.

As for "during the sale" ... When things are good then the customer is theirs, the instant anything goes wrong - the buyer is YOURS and your problem to deal with.

Of course Ina, the comparison between eBay and Amazon is vast.

On Amazon, the customer "really is" theirs since all you are doing is fulfillment on that object for them. They ALLOW you to make money off their hard work. Hence they expect high levels of service for giving you access to their customers.

eBay.... by their own admission is just a venue aka website. But since eBay lies the same way that most people breathe aka all the time - that description can change depending on the day, which regulators or new people ask, and whether or not they will gain anything out of it.

Ive long said that if eBay wants to take FVF on shipping then THEY need to have some skin in the game. The same goes for creating a MBG program that they dont even fund themselves.

Today they are a venue, tomorrow a managed marketplace, it changes as it suites them.

eBay regardless of that choice however isnt a retailer - so a customer "could never be" theirs. The SELLER owns the goods, ships the items, does the CS on the item - so how could it EVER be that the buyer is eBays???

Regardless - once I have the customer data - its mine to do with as I see fit. I dont email market/blast anyway - but I do take every opportunity to go direct to the buyer after the first sale - come and get me eBay - I dare you :)

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This user has validated their user name. by: White Rabbit

Thu May 26 11:45:53 2016

well in my opinion they are your customer but.. people are not willing to go to our websites generally even if the price is less. It is a battle the sellers generally lose if trying - but some succeed so not impossible. Tough project to take on and i Commend any that have made it work.  

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 11:47:58 2016

When a buyer purchases an item from me, it is the one collectable item that the buyer has been looking for.  Rarely, will I have another item listed that my former buyers will be looking for.

Showering my buyers will fast professional service brings me lots of compliments and high ratings but few repeat orders.  Selling collectibles that are hard to find or rare, that is the way it goes.  Former buyers may return to eBay or Etsy to buy because of my good service but usually the few items that they are seeking are not in my listings.

With monthly eBay sales trending down, down, down, who owns the customer is a mute point.

Following is a comment from a recent Etsy customer:  ''Hi, thank you for the message.  I used Etsy first and then tried eBay and have begun to hate them (eBay).  Ebay is a whole different culture and not for the good.  Thank You.''

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Thu May 26 12:06:55 2016

So, the ''Customer'' is whoever is wearing the ''Buyer'' hat in the transaction; the one who pays the freight for the goods they bought. And it includes the eBay Member who buys services from eBay, and from USPS. Theoretically it is the person who is least responsible for selling the product. That ''Buyer'' is ''owned'' by whoever has earned their business, respect,  and loyalty.

I'd be hard pressed as a Buyer to say that eBay has earned my respect or loyalty; or in current political terms: eBay's Negatives are Very High thanks to the poor treatment I've received directly from eBay Customer Service. While presentation is important, first impressions are too, and eBay has poisoned the well. WAY TOO MUCH ''hide the ball'' and rude insolent lies about printed ''policies''. Dealing with eBay is a toxic experience for everyone involved including the eBay employees.

But there are some very pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful eBay Sellers on line, and they have earned my respect and loyalty. For me ''professional'' means that when something goes wrong they step up and address the problem without assessing & assigning blame.

The stinkers who spray Renuzit on the packing materials they pulled out of the dumpster are kidding themselves; it still stinks when the box lid is cut open. I wonder at someone who reuses a 9x6 bubble mailer and then covers it in yards of clear sealing tape. For the cost of the tape they could have bought a new bag.

So ''theerb'' has earned my loyalty for new bubble mailers and ''haworth57'' is in my saved list for shrink wrap bags. And I can contact either one of them directly.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Thu May 26 12:33:31 2016

@gettingby

I ship 98% of my packages that are boxed in a previously used carton. It is against USPS rules to ship in a liquor box. The boxes I use are clean and undamaged.

Two reasons for this: (1) New boxes are very expensive (2) To ''save a tree''. Also, I print shipping labels on paper, not high-priced, fancy stickers. The label is taped very carefully onto the package.

And I have had zero complaints. I do agree that all packages need a packing slip, that's just good business.

With the high fees one pays to these online sites, a seller must save money whenever possible. If each package I mail costs an extra 30-50 cents or more, this adds up to a great deal of money by the end of the year to look ''professional''.

To avoid an ''unprofessional'' transaction with you, could you post your eBay user ID? There is a list I keep that I would like to add your ID to........

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by: xcelr This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 26 12:35:18 2016

Ebay doesn't have much to worry about, after all one has to actually have a sale before there is a customer to own

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