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September 19 2006

So, Amazon finally pissed me off

As anyone who has read my blog for more than a week knows, I love Amazon.com, but they have finally angered me. In a move that can’t be described as anything other than greed, Amazon has essentially closed my shop on their site. Here is the letter I received and then I will explain why this basically closes me down:

Dear Amazon.com zShops seller,

Over the years, Amazon.com has worked to expand selection by enabling
sellers to list their inventory alongside Amazon’s within the product
detail page. This has resulted in unparalleled selection for customers and
a great way for sellers to reach tens of millions of customers.

Since launching Amazon Marketplace, we’ve learned that customers prefer to
shop for items via the product detail page. Accordingly, we ask that
sellers with zShops listings migrate those listings to sell their items in
Amazon Marketplace. Sellers should continue selling using Amazon
Marketplace listings to list their items on the most valuable real estate
for selling on the web: Amazon product detail pages.

What does this mean to you?
—————————

For your continued selling success, we encourage you to keep selling on
Amazon using Marketplace listings. Starting Tuesday, October 24, 2006, we
will be replacing all current zShops Storefronts with a new Storefront
exclusively featuring your Marketplace listings. On that date, customers
will no longer be able to find your zShops listings, and your Marketplace
listings will appear in your new Storefront. Your zShops listings will
still be visible from your Seller Account page for about one week from that
date, after which they will be removed.

Before Tuesday, October 24, 2006, we encourage you to re-list your zShops
listings as Marketplace listings to benefit from the new Storefront. The
following tools make it easy for you to continue selling on
Marketplace–you can create product detail pages and list your items in
bulk or one item at a time without using zShops listings:

* You can create book detail pages (including pre-ISBN) or list books in
bulk in Marketplace with the latest release of the Book Loader tool. Read
more about this tool by going to Amazon.com and clicking the following
links:

Help > Selling at Amazon.com > Experienced and Volume Selling > Volume
Listing Tools > Book Loader > Bulk Listing and Creating Book Detail Pages

* You can create product detail pages for all other products, one at a
time, using the Create a Product Detail Page tool. Read more about this
tool by going to Amazon.com and clicking the following links:

Help > Selling at Amazon.com > Create a Product Page

Please note: Your existing zShops listings and zShops Storefront will
continue to be available on Amazon.com until October 24, 2006, when your
current zShops Storefront URL will be automatically redirected to your new
Storefront.

How can I learn more?
———————

* If you are a current zShops seller, learn more about what you need to do
by going to Amazon.com and clicking the following links:

Help > Selling at Amazon.com > zShops > Important zShops Information

* Find out more about your new Storefront by clicking these links from our
home page:

Help > Selling at Amazon.com > zShops > The New Storefront Featuring
Marketplace Listings

* Learn more about selling on Amazon.com Marketplace by going to Help >
Selling at Amazon.com.

For any feedback related to the new Storefront featuring Marketplace
listings, please contact us at *e-mail address no one needs to see*

Thank you for selling at Amazon.com!

So, why does this effectively shut me down? As most of you know, I sell imported products from Japan, they do have UPC codes, which are required to create Amazon Detail Pages, so I shouldn’t have a problem. Well, when I try creating a detail page, I enter the UPC code and I get a message from Amazon saying that you can’t create a page for that item because there is already a page created for that item…IN JAPAN! It seems all of Amazon’s sites run off the same database and if there is already an entry for that UPC code on any of their sites, anywhere in the world, you can not create a duplicate entry for that item. No Product Detail page also means that you can’t sell the item via Marketplace because those items have to be associated with a Detail Page. So, hundreds of items I already have listed on Amazon will be deleted sometime after October 24th.

I emailed their support, no word back from them yet. So I found a support phone number and called them. After I described my situation, I could tell the customer service rep was stumped by my question and he put me on hold for a few minutes. When he came back he informed me that the technical department had long been aware of the problem, but had not found a workaround for it and that they had no ETA on it ever being completed. I told him there was a simple solution…seperate databases, but he didn’t seem to get it.

The reason this also angers me is that they take a much higher percentage of the closing price when an item is sold via Marketplace.

Amazon.com collects fees only when your item sells. At that time, Amazon.com collects your sales price and shipping costs from the buyer, deducts a commission of 6 to 15 percent of the sales price, a per-transaction fee of $0.99, and a variable closing fee. The $0.99 per-transaction fee is waived for Pro Merchant Subscribers.

I am a Pro Merchant Subscriber, so I get the $.99 per-transaction fee waived. But sales in the zShop, I only lose approx 6% of the sale, so worse than a credit card, but still managable. So, even if I had the ability to list items in the Marketplace, I would lose too much of the sale to commisions unless I raise my prices to a non-competitive pricing to cover the difference, and this would also give us different pricing structures on different sites, which I despise.

Yes, I still have my AnimeUSA.com, eBay store and Yahoo store, but my zShop accounted for 11% of my online business last year and that is now essentially been cut out from under me just as we go in to the busiest time of the online shopping year. Now I have to find another online outlet and buildan entirely new online store just as I get in to the busiest time of the year.

So, in short, in Amazon’s greed, they’ve lost all my revenue. I understand I am a small cog in their overall machine, but it makes you wonder how many other people this weill be effecting.



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