Using Amazon as your drop shipper on eBay

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Using Amazon as your drop shipper on eBayOn Sunday I made three purchases on eBay. Today one of them turned up (still waiting for the other two to arrive).

What surprised me however was that it arrived as a gift (purportedly from myself) from Amazon!

Yes, it appears that the seller is involved in a little marketplace arbitrage and not only doesn’t hold the stock, but lists products from Amazon at a higher price on eBay and waits for someone to purchase. When they get a sale on eBay, they simply place an order on Amazon, select the gift option (no they were too tight to spring for gift wrap) and let Amazon ship out to their buyer. Their feedback confirms this is their usual pattern of trading.

Of course having had it arrive from Amazon I now know that instead of paying £11.11 on eBay I could have purchased the same product for £5.99 on Amazon. It’s very tempting to ask for a return and even bearing in mind the return postage costs I’d still save money overall. What makes it worse is the gift despatch note stating “We hope you enjoy your gift, and we’d love to see you soon at www.amazon.co.uk“!

Gift From Amazon

It’s hard not to admire the seller’s ingenuity however, seeing as I’m still waiting for the other two products I purchased they’re not all bad, in fact it’s a pretty good service. By using Amazon to pick, pack and fulfil their orders (and supply the stock) they’ve managed to get superb eBay detailed seller ratings.

What was amusing is I happened to be on a telephone call to someone pretty senior at eBay when the package arrived and couldn’t help blurting out what had just happened…. they too were amused at how the seller trades on eBay.

I’m not sure I would recommend this as a way of trading on eBay, although this seller seems to be making it work well. You’d need to keep track of what Amazon has in stock, but the biggest danger is disgruntled customers who realise they’ve paid over the odds. Would you risk it?

37 Responses

  1. I sell a brand of earphones and I first came across this phenomenon when I looked at 2 other sellers, both based in Europe and both mentioning using third party UK based fulfilment companies. They also said, politely, that if this was not suitable to the buyer, they should buy elsewhere.

    A quick look at the feedback comments showed that some (only a few) did not like getting Amazon products at a higher price via eBay.

    What surprised me was that those buyers had not checked the price in both eBay and Amazon.

    I have done something similar a few times (3 or 4 times) with products from Amazon in the UK that are not available through Amazon in Europe. I listed on, for example, Amazon.it and bought from Amazon.co.uk as needed with my next day every time Prime membership.

    Mark

  2. There is a site called DS Domination (I think) which tells people they can earn thousands doing exactly this… Probably quite a few sellers trying it, but most of them would fail I guess – unless they are very careful and savvy. I remember reading about it a while ago, although a clever idea I would never try it as you don’t have control over your own shipments! And as a customer I would not be happy at all if I received an Amazon parcel while expecting an eBay one.

  3. We are getting this more and more now. People selling our products, using our descriptions, images etc. They advertise our stuff at a higher price and then place orders with us if they sell something.

    One person doing it is doing 1500 feedback per month just doing this. Not a bad business as they don’t have to hold any stock!

    The only way to stop it with eBay is to block that persons username from making purchases with you. There will be no way of stopping the Amazon ones though.

    Andrew

  4. I too bought something off eBay recently, although it wasn’t purchased from Amazon my item came from a seller that used Amazon fulfilment for its eBay orders.

    Many buyers may not appreciate the difference or even notice a difference, this could cause a customer to check Amazon for a price match even though the seller legitimately owns the stock etc.

    Tricky one and personally it’s a great idea, if the buyer agrees to click buy it now then you must have felt the price was acceptable anyway. And you will find the majority of sellers have items cheaper on Amazon to compete .

  5. So some smart ass has found a way to make money on eCommerce without having to invest in stock or anything else. Good for him and even if it does go balls up he will simply start another eBay account and continue. But why would anyone want to stop him? Are you jealous?

    Fair play and I wouldn’t be suprised if the “seller” is a teenager!

    Zero investment, perfect cashflow, no packing hassles, ignore dumb ass questions, and simply spend 1 hour a day (after school?) listing items and processing sales. Most buyers won’t notice FBA and those who do, who cares anyway? They got what they ordered. Perfect business model and I just wish I’d thought of it! Just brilliant!! Why begrudge him? IMO this is what eCommerce is all about – innovation and making money.

    Long live the Revolution! 🙂

  6. I don’t see how it would be sustainable beyond selling a few items? It wouldn’t take long to accumulate defects on eBay resulting in a lifetime ban; some people might admire the brazenness, most will just feel ripped off.

  7. Plenty of people do this. I did it for a while with CDs on a very very small scale and it worked. Problem is Amazon orders take longer to arrive and it’s hard to reach the sellers.

  8. I’m assuming that Chris’ order was sent Amazon Prime?

    If not then the Ebay seller is making a 50p loss (taking into account ebay/paypal fees) as they would have to pay an additional £3.99 as there is no super saver delivery on orders less than £10.

    However if it was sent Amazon Prime then I’m surprised that Amazon haven’t cancelled their account for “purpose of resale” as it states in the t’s&c’s.

    I’ve done a bit more digging and I’ve found the ebay seller that Chris has bought from… on his feedback it shows “Member since: 23-Jan-13 in Israel”

  9. Why would Amazon cancel profitable business for them? I’m guessing ebay are not the only marketplace drop shipping Amazon goods. Other than Amazon of course!

    At the end of the day it is free marketing, promotion and advertising for Amazon.

  10. We have had someone doing it with some of our products recently. I assume they use some sort of software to do a lot because the titles were literally the exact same as our amazon ones but were cut off at the end due to the ebay character limit making them look and read very porrly.

  11. I use Amazon to fulfill eBay orders if I oversell (buy from a competitor at a loss to avoid negative feedback) or if I have FBA stock and the customer is in a remote UK region and my courier charges a tariff (FBA MCF does not).

    However, while most eBay customers are happy with the service, some are not, so my preference is to ship from our own warehouse. I would echo this comment:
    “Many buyers may not appreciate the difference or even notice a difference, this could cause a customer to check Amazon for a price match even though the seller legitimately owns the stock etc.”

  12. They call this arbitrage – taking advantage of retail price differences to buy from one site to sell directly on another.

    There is software to automate it, e.g. PriceYak or Segemai Retail.

  13. I noticed a seller doing this on a large scale even using Amazon prime, I worked out they make about 10% profit assuming they are not VAT registered. Except they should be and at those prices they’d be making a small loss on every sale… Not quite sure how they are getting away with not paying VAT and not banned from using Amazon prime sending thousands a month maybe they use multiple Amazon accounts.

  14. Omg people get a life people r just trying to make a living. If u want to buy a book or any other item u check the prices first surely. I know I do. If u buy something and then u find it cheaper elsewhere that is your problem people who generally sell drop ship clearly state this in their terms and conditions so therefore if u r not sure don’t buy. Businesses have been doing this for years take scs as an example they ain’t got all the sofas in their store.

  15. As Helena mentioned above, there’s a well known affiliate marketer promoting this as the next big thing (although it was released to a private forum in March) so expect more and more people trying this out.

  16. The practice is prohibited by Amazon. The sellers doing this typically are utilizing their Prime membership. If Amazon discovers that they are using their Prime membership to drop ship items they will forfeit their membership and the ability to ever have a Prime membership in the future(it is clearly disclosed in the terms). I personally considered this because the profits are tempting. I would simply never risk the awesome benefits of being Prime member nor would I jeopardize my eBay reputation. I suggest that anyone who receives an eBay from Amazon report the issue to Amazon.

    Though I will say that I once sold a new item on eBay and the item was damaged when the buyer received it. Unsure how I packed it incorrectly I simply paid a premium to have the item shipped through Amazon as a replacement. The seller was extremely grateful and willing to overlook my packing mistake.

  17. All good comments and points.

    I think the big issue would be selling an item and then finding the Amazon trader you had planned to use is out of stock.

    To avoid any real issues, you would need to pick items that you can mark up significantly (double or treble sounds good), and ones which are offered by multiple sellers, that way if one is out of stock you can easily purchase from someone else and still have enough margin to cover a slightly higher cost. FBA would be preferred and China must be avoided.

    After that the only issue is meeting your buyers expectations over packing (which FBA do very well) and delivery time (FBA is very fast). To prevent an issue, simply state on eBay shipping within 5 days by an Economy service (this should give a +2 week delivery window but obviously the buyer will receive it much sooner). Clearly you can not offer a next day service!

    Breaking Amazon rules? Yeah right, do you really think Amazon (or eBay) want to stop trade? They obviously have to say its against the rules but I doubt they really care.

    As regards buyers feeling ripped off? Screw them. They got what they ordered and if they feel they overpaid then its their fault for being lazy and not shopping around first. Who cares if they don’t order from you again? There will always be another buyer. This model is not based around building customer loyalty – its about raw profit. All in all its a brilliantly simple idea!

    Long live the Revolution! 🙂

  18. In effect this is probably not much different from the activities of the sellers who buy stuff from pound shops to sell on eBay – from the buyer’s point of view the product is something they could have purchased more cheaply elsewhere.

    I like to shop around, but others will just buy what they want as soon as they find it available somewhere, regardless of price competitiveness

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