Many people now go to Amazon.com when purchasing ANYTHING nowadays it seems. Why not, you can surely find the best deals on many things there. Or can you? Basically put, Amazon.com has become an e-commerce monopoly, and as with all monopolies they are completely exploiting and abusing the retail world as well as the buying public, to fuel their evil greediness! Read the facts below and you will quickly see how they take complete advantage of any business that wants to sell on their marketplace. They will destroy any small business in the end as well, as they cannot absorb this abuse like the big lot stores. In the end this monopoly will destroy the ecommerce world, and/or the consumer will end up suffering for it. So if you think you are saving money there now, just wait for it. In the end you the consumer WILL end up paying for how Amazon abuses their power. The money squeezed out of the sellers there will eventually be passed onto the consumer.
As many of you know, Amazon.com is the leading internet retailer worldwide, and had $107 billion in net sales in 2015. They’re touted as the leader in e-commerce, e-retail, and the premiere internet marketplace. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that, right? This is what I thought 2 months ago when we signed up for a professional seller account for HKF. Since then, dealing with this site and everyone associated with it has been nothing but a hellacious nightmare. Let me walk you through why Amazon is a huge scam for sellers and buyers alike.
The first problem is that Amazon is a seller on the Amazon marketplace!!! That’s right, unlike Ebay, they list and sell stuff on their own site. Not only do they dictate how everything on Amazon.com is bought and sold, they’re also selling stuff themselves! So of course they warp the entire system to give them an advantage and help THEM sell the most. Products sold by Amazon itself (not an independent seller on Amazon) get priority over those sold by EVERY OTHER VENDOR selling on Amazon: Their products appear highest in buyer search results, and they are always the first vendor in line to get the sale when a buyer purchases a product, EVEN IF THEY DON’T OFFER THE LOWEST PRICE FOR AN ITEM. So buyers are getting screwed because Amazon is trying to force them to pay more by buying from them, and sellers are getting screwed because Amazon has unique advantages that can’t be competed with. For sellers like me, who are paying $40/month just to list our items for sale on Amazon, it’s a kick in the teeth knowing that, even if I offer the best price, shipping, and customer support, I’ll still never be able to sell more than my competitor: Amazon itself.
Nothing about selling on Amazon is user friendly. This wouldn’t be so bad if you had decent customer support, right? Well Amazon’s seller support is a complete joke. It’d almost be funny if they weren’t playing around with YOUR MONEY. I logged half a dozen complaints about problems with the selling programing. I reported the first problem (I couldn’t change the price of shipping on some items I was selling) on October 1. It’ currently November 30, and Amazon still hasn’t fixed the problem. The same is true of all the other problems I’ve reported to them. They either never address the problem, or when they do provide a solution (which is rare) it doesn’t work. I’ve communicated with Amazon “seller support” through email, phone, and online chat. None of the representatives spoke English well, and most of them couldn’t answer the simplest questions about Amazon. You can never reach the same representative twice, and most of the time they have no idea which seller they’re talking to, let alone what problem they’re addressing (During one email conversation, the Amazon rep called me a different name in each email: Chris, John, David, and Robert [who are David and Robert]). There are no managers or higher-ups to speak to speak to so if you have a problem with using Amazon.com you’re better off googling it than asking an Amazon Rep (because they’re just going to google it anyway: we caught a rep doing this during a phone call once).
Finally, the seller fees charged by Amazon are ridiculous. For every item you sell, Amazon takes at least %15 of the selling price as part of their fees. This is IN ADDITION to the $40 monthly subscription fee for professional sellers. This makes it even harder to compete with Amazon (which, remember, is selling stuff right alongside you) and turn any kind of profit. But it’ll be ok as long as your making sales, right? Wrong. Even if you manage to beat out Amazon on their own marketplace (which is unlikely), you don’t get paid until well after you ship the item. That’s right: Amazon holds your earnings until 10 days after the item you’ve sold is supposed to ARRIVE to the customer. So, after paying your monthly seller fees, you make a sale! Then you lose at least %15 of that sale to Amazon right off the bat. Then you have to ship your item to the customer (you have to mail out a product BEFORE Amazon pays you for it). Then you wait until 10 days after the latest calculated delivery date. During all this, if you have more monthly seller fees due, Amazon will kindly automatically deduct these off your profit from this sale. Then, generally about 60 DAYS later, you get paid whatever’s left. So basically, Amazon is like a deadbeat roommate: they’ll pay you the money they owe you but only some of it, and only when they feel like it. So sellers are getting screwed, but what does this have to do with the majority of Amazon users who are strictly buyers? Well, when the sellers are hit with these crazy fees, they have no choice but to cover their costs. How do they do that? They have no choice but to raise their prices. Amazon has just forced them to pass on the cost of all the fees to the buyer. Amazon squeezes profit out of the sellers who then have no choice but to squeeze what little they can out of the customer. So in the end, Amazon is NOT saving the buyer any money: their policies are COSTING the buyer more. This is sure to get worse as more Amazon sellers figure out that they can’t stay in business without raising their prices to cover themselves. So even if Amazon’s prices appear cheap now, I can guarantee they will NOT stay that way.
Let’s review: the website itself barely functions, sellers are pegged against Amazon (who makes and breaks all their own rules), customer support is useless, and Amazon will siphon off your earnings through the whole drawn-out selling process. Needless to say, we’ve made the executive decision to withdraw all our items from Amazon, close our Amazon account, and spit on Amazon’s shoes on our way out the door. If you are a small business, or anyone looking to make an honest dollar selling products in a competitive marketplace, DO NOT sell on Amazon. You’ll save yourself time, sleep, headaches, and a whole lot of money.
So here’s what I propose, on behalf of every small business owner trying to scrape out a living doing what they love and doing it honestly and competitively: Don’t give Amazon your money. Don’t buy FROM Amazon and don’t buy ON Amazon (because no matter who you buy from, Amazon’s the only one making money). They don’t deserve it. Show them that Americans still care about business ethics and that these marketplace monopolies that extort both buyers and sellers are NOT going to be accepted.
Instead, buy directly from the seller. If you find a vendor you like on Amazon, look for them outside Amazon (they’re sure to be somewhere else on the web). That way you both dodge Amazon’s BS, and you’ll actually be supporting the (often small) businesses you’re buying from, away from the draining fees Amazon marketplace. It’s no different than choosing a Mom & Pop produce store over your “local” Super Walmart. Take your money where people still care about you as a customer, not just a source of their $107 billion in yearly earnings.
Thanks for listening, guys
-Chris & John
Hanover Koi Farms