I love Amazon as much as the next guy, uh… girl? I don’t know if I’ve yet found anything more magical to a frazzled mom than the same day delivery offered for free to Prime customers. However, even as I type those words, and know them to be true, I flinch, sitting here at my desk working for an online company who sells products on Amazon and also competes online through our own website with Amazon.
I believe in the free market and the market laws that promote companies providing what customers want and need. However, I also believe in those same customers having all the information. It is not as cheery as it seems. Behind the promise of getting your new purchases to you in 1-2 days and at a cheaper price than anywhere else, there is a frenzy of small to mid size companies trying desperately to be seen where their customers are looking (on Amazon) while also protecting themselves from copycat companies looking (on Amazon) for the next easiest buck.
Food For Thought :: Tips for Shopping the Amazon Marketplace
- In my experience, it is much easier to become a seller on Amazon than you would imagine. I was able to set up a new account with a valid email address. What to do? Before you buy from an Amazon seller, try to get in contact with them or search for their company using Google. I know our company would respond within a business day and you could easily find us outside Amazon.
- In our experience as an Amazon Seller, it is much easier to list a product than you would imagine. You can simply go to a current listing and say you have the same item as what is already being sold. Don’t have a picture? That’s okay! Since there is already an existing listing, that picture and information will be used when you sell your product. ***Again, this activity violates the seller agreement every seller accepts, but if it’s close enough, how often do you think the violation would be caught? What to do? Be aware – one product from a seller that is far below the retail of all the other sellers, is probably not the same quality or the same product at all. Also, look at the reviews of the company selling the product, not just the product itself.
- Amazon Marketplace is very consumer friendly but not very seller friendly. If you complain to them, they listen. However, they are not proactive about keeping their marketplace clean and high-value. It really takes a big stink with lots of evidence to remove an infringing seller. What to do? Tell Amazon if a company rips you off. It’s not always good enough to just write a bad review.
- Your purchase supports the company you purchased from. This seems obvious, but I think it’s easy to forget when you buy through Amazon. We are people too! What to do? Again, just see if you can find out anything about the company you’re buying from.
- Reviews can be bought. Again, this violates the seller agreement, but it still happens. What to do? Look for wording like, “I was given free or discounted product to write this review.” Look for a huge amount of reviews all written within a short time period. What’s the oldest review? What’s the worst review?
- And finally, if it seems too good to be true, it is.
You will not find the same quality product for half the price from the seller Happy Dragon (unless perhaps you’re ordering takeout). What to do? Just spend the extra $10 and get the product you actually want.
Here’s why I feel so passionate about this:
Of course, the best example I can give is from my own industry of gas grill replacement parts. We spend hundred of hours every year providing our customers with the best possible listings of parts for their models. We talk one-on-one with customers daily, having them measure their original parts and measuring the parts in our warehouse to compare. We source the best replacements for our customers because we believe in helping them find a real solution that will get them through many more barbecues. I personally update line after line of code so that our front facing site is easy to use and our customers are happy with their experience.
And then, just like that, a faceless “company” pops up on the Amazon Seller Marketplace selling the part I just updated, using the exact listing we have on our site and at an unbelievable price of 1/4 (or less) our retail. They use the same code, sometimes even the same picture. They use my hard-earned customer-based information.
It should be noted that this practice is not allowed under the terms of doing business as an Amazon Seller. However, an infringing seller has to be reported to Amazon and Amazon has to go through the process of verifying the claim to take down the seller. Instead of innovating, listening to consumers, and engaging in the industry, owners of these companies find themselves constantly petitioning Amazon to remove fraudulent, copycat producers that ship product from China directly to Amazon warehouse. The most frustrating piece is that as soon as a bad seller is removed, a new one pops up in its place like a never ending carnival game gone horribly wrong.
Even CNBC took notice. This article is from about a month ago:
We do better when we know better.
It will take a whole lot of us to make Amazon take notice, but like I said at the beginning of the article – I do believe in the free market!
As always, happy grilling! We remain determined to stay around and “Get You Back to Grillin’!”
Director of Marketing