EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3128 - August 12, 2013     3 of 4

Amazon Stays Mum on Last Week's Outage

By Julia Wilkinson

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Amazon experienced a nearly 10-hour outage last week of its system that let sellers process orders. Merchants reported a "Service Unavailable message" on their Seller Central page, as reported on EcommerceBytes's EKG report.

Also impacted was Amazon MWS (Marketplace Web Service), which gives sellers the ability to exchange listing and sales data with Amazon, and allows them to create applications for uploading inventory to Amazon, change quantities and prices, download orders, and upload shipping confirmations.

The MWS outage directly impacted third-party vendors as well as merchants.

Aside from reports on EcommerceBytes EKG and on the AuctionBytes Blog, news of the outage was not widely reported. One vendor told EcommerceBytes, "I am not sure why this hasn't been bigger news. Probably because as my users would have me believe, it didn't affect sales - only the ability to processes them."

EcommerceBytes reader Linda said she was unable to add product to Amazon, costing her a day of productivity. "Normally when we are not adding product, we are doing accounting and we were severely limited in the accounting also because we could not access our July sales to be able to do our bookkeeping for our sales tax calculations. It really gave us a no work day."

The outage also prevented sellers from contacting seller support. Linda explained, "We were working when the outage occurred and tried to contact seller support online but that was not available to us because it is a part of Seller Central, so I went through customer service as a buyer and had them transfer me to seller support. Seller Support told us that the outage was worldwide and that they didn't even have access to the site."

A notice posted to the Amazon "Seller Central" area last Tuesday read, "Technical Notification: Aug 6, 2013. We are currently experiencing an issue that is impacting the ability to access all or parts of Seller Central. Our engineers are actively engaged in resolving this issue. (08/6, 10:27 PST)."

On the Amazon Seller Discussion forums, under Ask Amazon Seller Services some threads were discussing that the outage was not spread uniformly throughout Amazon, with one seller in Idaho "having trouble for the last day or two," but another saying, "Mine is up and running."

On the Amazon sellers Facebook group, there was much posting about the outage as well. Some sellers reported that they were able to login to the service briefly. "It was up long enough for me to print orders. We are getting the sold emails but the site is down again," wrote one group member.

Another seller posted an image of what he had seen on the Amazon site to the Facebook group: a message that read, "Website Temporarily Unavailable. Our website is currently unavailable while we make some improvements to our service. We'll be open for business soon, please come back shortly to try again."

As of approximately 5 p.m. ET, sellers in the Facebook group reported they were able to get back in again. "I do hope amazon explains this downtime to our buyers who are waiting for their orders to ship," commented a seller named Ryan.

One vendor, ShipRush, monitored the situation on its Twitter account, keeping Amazon merchants apprised as the system eventually came back online.

When asked about the outage and whether Amazon would be crediting sellers in any way for the inconvenience, Amazon.com spokesperson Erik Fairleigh said the company would not be commenting. It's not known if Amazon will penalize merchants for late shipping as a result of the outage.

Ina Steiner contributed to this story.


About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.


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