Thursday, October 25, 2007

Successful Amazon Selling: An eBay PowerSeller’s Tips

Gary Richardson is a true e-commerce pioneer. A long-time eBay PowerSeller, he was one of the first PowerSellers to also become a top 5 category seller on Amazon. Here Gary shares some of his impressions of selling on Amazon versus selling on eBay.

Gary, you've sold on eBay for 3 years under the ID Harleyglasses, building a thriving business selling sunglasses, goggles, and reading glasses. But now, from what we've seen you're having a lot of success on Amazon with your store GogglesandGlasses.

What are Amazon customers like compared to eBay customers?

Ah… man worlds apart. I really don’t know much about my Amazon customers. I hardly ever hear from them, they don’t ask questions, they seem to be very confident and trusting in their purchases. On eBay we frequently get questions like “Are the new sunglasses really new” and “did this really ship”? Our Amazon, customers seem to be willing to pay for service and product, while our eBay shoppers are looking for the lowest price only. Shoppers definitely trust

I have noticed in the returns department that Amazon customers seem to return items in better condition than eBay customers, that’s just my micro observation. But we do have more returns from Amazon customers.

Does Amazon’s famous A-Z protection policy make your life better or worse?

I think it makes it better. I have had two claims as a seller, one won and one lost. I tend to enjoy the trust that buyers so confidently give to Amazon 3rd party sellers in their purchases--they buy freely because of that A-Z safety net. I can tell you it’s real, it works, and customers keep coming back and recommending Amazon to their circle because of it.

We’ve been poking around and it seems you’ve become the go-to guy for insider info on Amazon selling. What do you see as the keys to successful Amazon selling as a third-party merchant?

  • A toll free phone number and email for customers to contact you at any point in the sale. While they usually don’t use it, it’s good to have it available should any problems arise, it will save your feedback.
  • An easy returns process. If customers find it difficult to return items they may skip the process and go directly to leaving you negative feedback. Endicia has a great return label feature. We can email, fax, or snail mail a return label to a customer passing our great postage rates on to them.
  • Excellent feedback. Your feedback on Amazon is a one-way process and buyers don’t hold back when things go wrong. Amazon can remove sellers from the platform for excessive negative and neutral feedback. My advice is to do whatever you can to maintain perfect feedback, attempt to truly resolve every problem, and if the buyer is agreeable, try to remove the bad feedback. Buyers don’t look at how many feedbacks you have, they look at how good it is by the percentage.
  • Positive Reviews on your products. Reviews are everything. A good review can shoot your product to the top, a bad review can send it flaming to the bottom of the basement. A good place to garner reviews is your own good feedback. You might tactfully ask your buyer who left positive feedback if they would be willing to write a review of your product. Some of Amazon’s top reviewers will review media or products if you send them a sample.

What do you think the future holds for eBay and Amazon?

Ooh…. Tough one! I see a big future in new fixed-price commerce. I feel most barn and attic finds have been found and I actually think there is a limit to auction fever. I think the Amazon Pay-Per-Sale (PPS) model will become more prevalent in the future and I’m not sure if eBay can make the leap to PPS without destroying auctions. I see increased competition for eBay in the fixed-price market with players like Neweggmall jumping into the action soon. eBay may become smaller as fixed-price commodity sellers flee to platforms with better pricing structures and fewer hoops to jump through to continue selling.

I don’t see a revival of Amazon auctions. Amazon needs better tools for sellers and better communication from the alliance department (Trust and Safety). I think Jeff Bezos has a long-term vision for Amazon, and it looks like it’s about to pay off. You can see it all coming together at once.

Amazon is forcing eBay to rethink its marketplace fees. This is good for sellers and also buyers--lower seller fees mean lower prices!