The scourge of Chinese sellers on Amazon is starting to dampen the buying experience in some categories, in a similar way to how they have impacted eBay. Chinese sellers tend to offer products at knock down prices, but for customers used to Amazon Prime and next day delivery, discovering that a delivery date can be three weeks away can be a bit of a shock.
Even worse, Chinese Sellers on Amazon are gaming search results by offering express shipments but with a sting in the tail of exorbitant carriage charges. An example is a product offered for “£6.36 & FREE delivery” in search results with a message “Get it as soon as 10 – 12 Oct. when you choose Express Delivery at checkout”. Choose Express Delivery and you’re in for a shock as the charge is £60.00 and free delivery is extremely slow estimated between 15 and 20 days for the item to arrive.
There is a certain amount of xenophobia in the ecommerce world towards Chinese sellers, from merchants who fear their low cost products and ability to undercut prices. We shouldn’t allow that to colour our opinions but, sticking to material facts, the service that they offer is way below expected retail standards for UK consumers and countering their skill in manipulation search results to get their products highly placed is where the marketplaces themselves need to step in.
eBay have already changed their requirements for eBay Premium Service, and now express shipments within two days have to be offered with a cap of a reasonable £10 carriage charge cap to qualify. What eBay haven’t done is enable buyers to search for products shipping relatively fast from the UK and exclude products from China which will either take weeks to arrive or will have exorbitant shipping fees.
Amazon don’t appear to have a carriage cap for express delivery and that’s a hole that are enabling Chinese sellers to offer goods which appear to have fast delivery but in reality they never expect consumers to pay and merely use it as a hook to get clicks on their products.
Amazon have a fantastic reputation for service and convenience and, whilst not all products are Prime Eligible and will arrive within a couple of days, are not known as a venue for slow service. If Chinese sellers flood the market with cheap products but slow or exorbitant shipping prices this could lead to lowering consumer trust and ultimately prove Amazon’s undoing if they don’t take steps to address the problem.
Our view at Tamebay is that there is no room in the ecommerce world for xenophobia and Chinese merchants should be free to trade on Western marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon just as UK merchants sell on German, French, US and Australian marketplaces. However we firmly believe that marketplace should put steps in place to prohibit Chinese sellers from masquerading as local sellers manipulating search results to suck buyers in and then provide either a slow service or an overpriced express service.
Ultimately it is the consumers who will decide and if they get tired of sifting through pages of search results from Chinese sellers on Amazon offering poor service then they’ll simply start shopping elsewhere.