Amazon: what do I need to know?

No primary category set

One of the things I noted in my greeting post, was that I felt a tiny bit out of touch with everything that has been happening on eBay. I haven’t been looking as closely at every detail as I used to. That said, if I really have an area of ignorance,  it’s when it comes to selling on Amazon.

Obviously, I buy using Amazon. I’ve spoken to plenty of folk about selling there and I’ve read plenty of stuff too (mostly from America) so I have a general knowledge. Here are my current impressions:

– That it’s a pretty slow process to get started, verified, registered and set up there. And they can be rather picky with who they take on: copious forms go into a black hole and take an age to be processed.

– Amazon is more authoritarian than eBay in determining more details such as item image and description, postage costs etc. Which gives sellers less chance to differentiate themselves. The feedback reputation system is less developed and less important too.

– Price really is a very important differentiator, not least because of how Amazon display search results.

– For certain lines and sectors, Amazon is a very welcome, easy and successful outlet. If not necessarily the most profitable, it’s certainly easier than eBay to administer.

I’d love to know more and hope that Amazon traders will share their experiences to help me, and others, get a fuller picture of trading on Amazon. What do I need to know?

15 Responses

  1. Dan, couple of pointers:

    – Use the Condition Notes on Amazon to differentiate yourself. Talk about the product but also about how quickly you fulfill, where you ship to (and don’t), how long you’ve been in business and maybe even how long you’ve been in business. You have a 1000 characters, think about this as your advertisement space (but no URL in there).

    – Try Amazon FBA for fulfillment. I think there are now 3 warehouses in the UK and it will give you a conversion boost / increased visibility. You may also find that it’s on par or even cheaper to use FBA for fulfillment (definitely less headaches).

    – The Buy Box (single ownership of the main product page) receives about 75-80% which is why owning it is such an important factor of your success on Amazon. And that depends largely on the Order Defect Rate (ODR), a reflection of how well you are performing on Amazon. Your Seller Central Dashboard will always show you how you’re stacking up here. If you’ve been on Amazon for 6+ months, do a decent volume, have lots of inventory and a very low ODR, contact them for becoming a Featured Merchant and eligibility for the Buy Box.

    – Don’t ever post-sale market to buyers or advertise your site. It’s fair game to communicate often and professionally (with your seller name) to buyers throughout the sale (order confirmation, shipping confirmation, feedback solicitation) but once that is done, they’re Amazon’s customer. That is one reason why eBay will continue to be a very important channel (and the best customer acquisition channel out there).

    – Only 1 in 10 buyers generally leave feedback. You can increase this rate by inserting a request to leave feedback in your package or emailing the buyer (through Amazon) with a request to rate you on Amazon. You are also allowed to request product feedback which in turn positively affects the search relevancy of the item you’re selling (important for SKUs where you are the only merchant).

    – If you get kicked-off, it’s MUCH harder getting back on.

    And good luck — Amazon’s a great channel.


  2. We use Amazon to sell superfluous personally owned books, which we don’t find go as well on eBay. As they are personal second hand items, it is easy to just undercut the cheapest available (unless it is being sold for 1p, but then we don’t usually bother! ) as we have no profit margin to achieve. Easy process, we like it.

    For business sales, the hoops and whistles seemed quite onerous, so we stick to personal for the moment.

  3. Hi,

    I’m in the process of getting verified to sell on Amazon and have been for the past three months. Admittedly I’m a bit slack and not chasing them as much as I should for help but it sure is quite tricky.

    I sell custom printed clothing and I have been told in the past that clothes are one of the hardest things to sell on there. I keep telling myself that I should persevere as the awkward verification process means that there’s not as many competitors on there that there are on Ebay, my main outlet for sales.

    One of the problems seems to be that when you ask or respond for help you keep being given a different ‘help’ code so I think it’s hard for them to keep track of discussions.

    Right, I’m off to get some answers from them now!


  4. I am still waiting for vetting to be completed – over 3 months now. I haven’t chased up that much, I have too much else to do! But I hope once started it will be worth it.

    From the looks of it the lack of categories is the biggest problem sellers will face

  5. Been advertising on Amazon for 2 years, it ticks over but thats about all I can say about it, if Amazon generated as much business as eBay we would need another factory, not something I really want to contemplate these days.

    The only other benefit has been which is loaded with our Amazon stock, seems to be a popular site around the home counties, we have done very well from it.

  6. Thanks for all the comments I’m sure that plenty of people will find them useful. I certainly have. Cheers!

    3 months awaiting validation seems like a very long time to me. And the lack of categories in some areas is surprising. It would seem to me that both are reasonably easy to resolve and potentially barriers to growth.


  7. How long before they step into the Antiques and Collectables Market?

    I wonder 🙂


  8. Don’t ever post-sale market to buyers or advertise your site.

    I always include a card with details of my site in with orders – I find that Amazon customers seem more willing on the whole than ebay customers to ‘jump ship’. An Amazon sale is often followed up a day or two later by a website sale to the same customer – it seems to take ebay customers much longer to make the leap of faith.

  9. “Don’t ever post-sale market to buyers or advertise your site.”

    Intrigued by this. Why not? Is it an Amazon rule or something?

  10. Only about 15% of ebay volume at best, and riddled with Intellectual Property issues (sellers claiming they “own” the ASIN and nobody can list against it – I have two legal cases going forward with this.

    No TSAM or equivalent if you get into difficulty.

    I just dont understand why everybody thinks they are so wonderful.

  11. It took us a while to get onto Amazon as we were in a restricted category and it took a lot of phonecalls and persistance. my advice to anyone trying to get on is dont give up even if they say no!

    The hardest part has being learning to create and upload flatfiles, most of our stock is footwear and clothing and Amazon like you to have colour and size variations for each listing, Amazon call them parent and child variation. I don’t think they could have made this anymore complicated if they had tried.

    Half the time it doesn’t work as the system cannot cope with items that have been listed before on and I am forever on the phone to them so they can make changes! Its a slow and painful process and makes listing on ebay look very easy.

    I would like to see ebay bring size and colour variations into their listings I just hope they make it a more simple procedure than Amazon.

    we have been on Amazon for about 6 months and our sales are up as is our profit so hooray for Amazon

  12. #8 Totally agree with Gill’s comments.

    We sell roughly the same volume on Amazon as we do on eBay these days, but get so much less hassle from it. No payment problems, no ridiculous demands from customers e.g. do ‘x’ or I’ll give you negative feedback, and so few less customer service issues. Don’t like to generalise, but the average buyer on Amazon seems to have a little bit more upstairs.

    Amazon isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly been a great place to sell over the last few years.

  13. Kate & Jen,

    Can I be nosey and ask what method/software you’re using to upload items onto Amazon?

    I have had a play round with the ‘Desktop Seller’ software and I too found the parent and child thing a bit hard to figure out.


  14. We are doing better in AM than eBay, and we charge 20%-30% more compare to eBay. AM do bring better high quality buyers who are less worry about price.

  15. we went onto amazon recently & found it quick easy to get registered (48hrs) and get resonable sales approx 3rd of what we do on ebay at better prices with less hassle

    we sell biker leathers and thought amazon ? no

    but gave it a try and wow they sell

    cheers suzy MAX MPH


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