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Amazon Too Big To Help Merchants?

Posted on October 30, 2008 by Zach

One of our latest projects, which I have been a part of, is optimizing our Amazon store both for dollars and seller metrics to make it a better channel for us to sell through. Our account has been upgraded a few times and we are in a prime spot to really take advantage of the Amazon Marketplace. As part of that journey I continue to be amazed at two things.  The first is how many sellers, buyers and products Amazon has on its website.  It’s amazing that such a site can exist. The second thing that has baffled me is how hard it can be to integrate with Amazon and the amount of support and partnership that can sometimes be lacking or completely unavailable.

I understand that Amazon is the 10 ton gorilla in this arena but at the same time it seems like there might be some issues and limitations with their merchant model. Just to note a few of the areas we have had issues with are: Their entire integration process (although much of it was finally worked out), product normalization (Amazon has an extreme reliance on UPCs), the feedback system (which in some cases I am still unsure if it is calculating right), and customer metrics (we found out the hard way that these metrics play an extremely important role in how Amazon treats your account.  Not only do they play an extremely important role in how your account is measured and judged by their “Seller Performance Team”, but they just started giving sellers access to this information a couple of months ago.  You would think, and maybe this is just me, that if these metrics are so important to the seller’s account status that Amazon would make the reporting on these metrics readily available to sellers… from the get go).

The highlight of one of my frustrations with Amazon was over the phone with a contact that was helping us with our account. After I explained that the first person who had worked with us to upgrade our account (you know during the courting phase of the account upgrade process) was really helpful and talked up partnership, and a better relationship and process with Amazon.  He proceeded to tell me that there was little he could do with the issues I was asking about and mentioned that Amazon was simply too big to help us in that regard. This made me think, “Is Amazon too big to effectively help merchants and will merchants continue to deal with that?”


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