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Fulfilled by Amazon - anyone using it?

Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
Am thinking of switching to selling by 'Fulfilled by Amazon'. Anyone tried it?

Comments

  • DadsAFOLDadsAFOL USAMember Posts: 617
    I don't trust them not to mangle the boxes. I can offer free shipping and ensure that it is well packed. Also, I've heard that they slap a barcode tracking sticker on everything, which is not good for any MISB collectors.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited May 2013
    Just reading through the 'how to' guides on their website. Wow, what a lot of rules and regs. I mean a LOT!


    PS, it looks like you can opt out of the 'stickers' thing


    image
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    There are pluses and minues to using FBA...

    Pluses:

    1. They store your stuff
    2. They ship your stuff
    3. They handle most customer service issues
    4. They can handle more volume than you can
    5. Sometimes the fees they charge to ship items are lower than you can do it yourself.
    6. Items you sell are Prime eligible, which can increase sales for some items.

    Minuses:

    1. Customers can return anything within 30 days for any reason, even if they open it, and Amazon will give them a refund and take the money back from you.
    2. They won't pack as well as you will, a percentage of your sets will be returned for "damage", some of which Amazon will pay for, some of which they won't.
    3. The fees can really add up, they charge monthly storage fees, item pick/pack fees, shipping fees, and long term storage fees (which are really expensive).
    4. Sometimes the shipping fees are quite a bit higher than what you could do yourself.
    5. You have to pack the items into boxes and ship them into warehouses, at your expense, if you want them back, there is a cost to that as well.

    --------------

    FBA works well for businesses, it is not for the hobby seller.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    Just reading through the 'how to' guides on their website. Wow, what a lot of rules and regs. I mean a LOT!

    PS, it looks like you can opt out of the 'stickers' thing

    Yes, there are a lot of rules, and Amazon is not forgiving...

    There is a thread on the Amazon Seller forum called, "this ain't eBay", and they aren't kidding.

    Regarding stickerless, that is a can of worms I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. If you send in a nice pretty box stickerless, that won't likely be the item Amazon ships to your customer, they'll pick another item that is closer and ship it. If you request "removal" from the warehouse, you also likely won't get your item back.

    If you do stickerless, and someone else sent in the same set that had the minifigs removed and the box resealed and their set is the one shipped to your customer, you'll get blamed for it and there is nothing you can do about it.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    edited May 2013
    https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=1010&tstart=0

    You have to be a registered seller to read that (I think), so I'll copy it here:

    ------------------------

    Amazon Marketplace Rules EVERY New Marketplace Seller Should Know
    (aka: This Ain't Ebay or What You Missed by Not Reading the Fine Print When You Signed Up )

    Welcome to the River. Amazon is not eBay nor any other venue. Learn the rules or your stay here will be VERY short—Amazon has little to no tolerance for errors made from ignorance of the rules. The minute you list an item for sale on any venue, you have agreed to the venues rules and are in business--be it big or small, it’s still business. From the college student selling off their textbooks to the megasellers selling multiple types of goods, it’s all business.

    An account is a privilege, not a right. If you think you are entitled to sell here, think again. In the TOS any seller can be terminated at any time for any reason.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_rel_topic?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161302

    Account Types: Amazon Accounts currently come in two flavors: SI Accounts (Selling Individually, formerly known as Marketplace Accounts) and SP Accounts (Selling Professionally, formerly known as Seller Central/@Marketplace). ProMerchant is not an account Type, it is an account Status. SI accounts may or may not be PM. SP accounts must be PM. There are other differences. Learn them and choose wisely when you sign up, because you cannot transfer from one account type to another. (If you want to change, you either close one and start over with the other, losing all fb or, with Amazon’s permission, certain sellers can open a second one, paying double fees). Read the Prohibited Seller Activity pages.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-2?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200414320&qid=1308608091&sr=1-2

    AtoZ Claims and Chargebacks: Amazon’s The AtoZ policy protects buyers, not sellers. For items over a certain dollar value it’s a good idea to insure and/or use signature confirmation (Delivery Confirmation is not considered proof of delivery by Amazon in most AtoZ claims). Chargebacks are not AtoZ claims. Know the difference between the two. There is no seller protection against Chargebacks. Chargebacks can be filed as long as the customer credit card company permits. Nothing in retail is 100% safe.

    Banning or Suspension: Should you somehow run afoul and get suspended or banned, read the email you were sent. There will be a clue in the email as to why you were suspended. See the corresponding thread on Help for New Sellers. Under Review is not the same as Suspended or Banned.
    https://sellercentral.amazon.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=1031&tstart=0
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    edited May 2013
    Catalog Pages: Sellers do not own catalog pages, item descriptions, or images. As soon as you create it/upload it, it becomes Amazon’s property. Any seller may list against any catalog page, provided it’s an item they are permitted to sell. Catalog pages must be generic to the widget, not specific to your copy of a widget.

    Catalog Pages, part 2: Adding a Page You can add pages to the Amazon Catalog if you are a Pro-Merchant. PLEASE check carefully first to see if the page already exists. The page should describe the widget as completely as possible, but not the CONDITION of your particular copy of the widget. Condition notes apply only to your particular copy of an widget; category pages apply to all versions of an widget. You will need an ISBN, UPC or EIN to create a catalog page in almost every category except books. And again, do not use the wrong category to end-run the system and get around listing limitations. Amazon can and will pull the misplaced pages and quite possibly shut you down.

    Catalog Pages, part 3: Exact Page Match. When listing widgets, they must be an exact match to the catalog page—the ISBN or UPC or EIN, edition, binding, cover art, year of issue, image, publisher/manufacturer, recording artist, cover art, ipod color, bundled video items, etc. You are not allowed to put the 7th edition of a book on the page for the 10th edition and explain that in the Condition Notes. Dnot put volume 1 of a 3 volume set under the 3 volume set listing. Don’t list the single item under the 6 pack. Do not expect customers to read Condition Notes.--they don’t have to. You’ll lose a misgraded or miscategorized AtoZ item claim every time.

    Condition Grading and Permitted Items: Read the condition guidelines and how they apply to your widget. Read the Permitted Items and Prohibited Items List. Not all sellers are permitted to sell in all categories, and not all items are permitted for sale. Amazon sells many things they do not allow 3P sellers to sell. (for example, Used Toys are not allowed at all except for Vintage Collectibles. Clothing is a restricted category; 3P sellers cannot sell Adult Videos or sexual items, etc.). Review these sections often, they are subject to change. You are required to grade your merchandise against Amazon's grading scale. It may say Guideline but trust us, it’s a Requirement. Learn it, Use itFailure to grade accurately can lose AtoZ claim, your merchandise, your money and/or your account. Failure to grade properly will also cause your feedback to plummet. NEW on Amazon does not simply mean New/never used. It means PRSITINE. No shelfwear. No Box damage. Absolute Pristine, Gift Quality. There are many things can be brand new, never used, never owned but NOT qualify as NEW for Amazon (shelf wear, shipping stickers, box tents, torn paper, corner bumps,etc.) Ditto Like New—if it’s not in the original retail box, in full packaging, it is NOT Like New. Period. When it doubt, grade lower, not higher. Better a pleasantly surprised customer than an annoyed one.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161242&qid=1308607946&sr=1-1
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200414300&qid=1308608091&sr=1-1
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    edited May 2013
    Fees: Know your Fees. The time to figure out what it costs to sell on Amazon is not after you have sold your first item. There are fees involved, know what they are. There are both commission percentage and flat rate fees on every item. Run the numbers before you list your first item.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161240&qid=1308607748&sr=1-1

    Multiple Seller Accounts: Generally speaking, you cannot have multiple Seller accounts. This includes anyone in your house, at your address, on your bank account, on your credit card, or sharing your computer, your Wi-Fi network or your IP address. Having multiple accounts without pre-approval is a fast track to permanent banning. You may have multiple buyer accounts. In some cases Amazon will grant permission for a second account, under very specific criteria. If you meet the criteria, GET THE APPROVAL IN WRITING.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-7?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200414320&qid=1308607502&sr=1-7

    No Blocked Buyers: You cannot block any buyer(s) on Amazon.

    Returns & Refunds: Amazon requires you to accept most items returns requested within 30 days, with few exceptions. The amount you refund may vary depending on why the widget was returned and the condition it was returned in. In addition, your stated return policy cannot be lesser than Amazons. You can, for example, specify a 60 day return policy. You cannot specify a 7 day one. Returns are not optional on the River. Discretionary returns are allowed. A restocking fee up to a maximum 20% is permitted for discretionary returns. Returns for damage-in-transit are not eligible for restocking fees—those are your problem, as is non-delivery. You are responsible until the item is in the customers hands. Insurance protects the Seller, not the Buyer. You are not required to refund before the item is returned.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161246

    Sales History: You cannot see a history of sale prices on Amazon. There is no historical sales data provided to 3P sellers. There are also no page “hits” (they’d be meaningless since catalog pages are shared).

    Scammers & Phishers: Just like everywhere else, phishers and scammers abound. AMAZON SELLS NOTHING TO NIGERIA. In fact, 3P sellers are allowed to sell Media internationally, period. Never Electronics. Always check your account for the order before shipping-Amazon does not put shipping addresses in emails.

    Seller Help: Read It. Use It. Often.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161232

    Seller Payments/Reviews: It's routine for Amazon to put new sellers on review and hold their funds 30-45 days until they are sure you sold and shipped what you listed. If you don't have a 60-90 day cash flow saved up, be wary about starting too quickly on Amazon. Answer all Amazon inquiries with the 3P's (professional, polite and promptly) ; you will get paid at the end of your review time. New Sellers should expect a review period. Tracking Numbers are a very good idea for new sellers. Please note Amazon does not consider USPS DC Proof of Delivery nor is it a Tracking Number. Once you pass the review period, SI sellers can disburse every 24 hrs. SP sellers get paid automatically bi-weekly.

    Seller Support: For the most part, you’ll get better answers calling rather than emailing them. Not always—but often.
    sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/contact-us/contact-amazon-form.html/ref=cu_ss_email

    Shipping Costs: You cannot ask for additional shipping monies from buyers. SI shipping rates are set by Amazon and by putting the item up for sale here, you agree to ship for that rate. Period. Know your shipping cost per item before you list it and price accordingly. SP Sellers can set their own rates.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161252&qid=1308608246&sr=1-1

    Shipping Speed and Packing: Amazon specifies a shipping time frame, not a mail class or particular shipper. Understand that statement. Amazon doesn’t care if you ship Media Mail, Parcel Post, Priority Mail, UPS, Fedex, Carrier Pigeon or Space Shuttle. Amazon only cares that the package arrives to the customer in the specified time frame. Amazon also requires you use New Packing Materials.
    amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_T1_1-2?ie=UTF8&nodeId=1161254&qid=1308608323&sr=1-2

  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    edited May 2013
    Shipping Time: SI sellers are required to have the item ship out within 2 business days. 2 business days does not include weekends or holidays. It doesn't matter if you haven't started receiving payments from Amazon yet, or if your account is in review and your funds on hold or your cat died, or you had your appendix out, or your inventory is held up in customs, you still have to ship within 2 business days. Period. Not shipping it within the time period is a violation of Amazon TOS and can cause you to lose an AtoZ claim and/or your account. SP Accounts can, in some cases, set their shipping time. However, most buyers expect fast shipping on Amazon. The 2 day rule is good even if it doesn’t apply to your Account Type. Once you have shipped, be sure to mark Confirmed When Shipped in your seller account, or you won’t get paid.

    Velocity Limits: If your sales climb suddenly, you may hit your Velocity Limit and sales may temporarily stack up. Amazon generally self adjusts this. If it doesn’t clear in 24 hrs, call Seller Support.

    Violations: Amazon counts on it's community to help police violations. If you spot a problem, report it so it can be corrected:
    amazon.com/gp/help/reports/contact-us

    This is a long list. Amazon is a strict marketplace. If you grade your widgets accurately, pack well, ship quickly, communicate well and practice the Golden Rule in customer service, you should do fine.

    Welcome to the River.
  • LegoManiaccLegoManiacc Member Posts: 116
    edited May 2013
    Anyone care to chime in with some info on FBA and/or selling on Amazon? I would think someone would know something about it. Even just some anecdotal experience would be helpful..anyone...anything??
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Hmm yeah that sounds about right. Reams and reams of aggressively worded stuff about how important it is to know what the rules and fees are whilst totally failing to properly explain them.

    Think I might just sign up for it with a couple of 'throwaway' sets and see.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    Anyone care to chime in with some info on FBA and/or selling on Amazon? I would think someone would know something about it. Even just some anecdotal experience would be helpful..anyone...anything??

    I sell on both eBay and Amazon. They each have their place.

    One of the biggest things that seems to surprise new sellers to Amazon is the requirement to take returns. Even opened ones.

    If you sell on Amazon, sooner or later you'll get someone who will send you a set back that is opened.

    Now wait a minute you say, it was sealed, they can't do that!

    Yes, they can. Lets also say they claim parts are missing, or it was damaged in shipping, or the instructions are damaged.

    You have to pay return shipping, plus give a full refund including outbound shipping.

    What happens if you don't? They can file an A-to-Z claim, if the item is under $300, Amazon may well refund them out of your account, and not require the return, so the customer gets their money back and keeps the item.

    Amazon is a nice place to sell for larger sellers, but it can be a dangerous place to sell for small sellers. eBay is more seller friendly and much more small seller friendly.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409

    Hmm yeah that sounds about right. Reams and reams of aggressively worded stuff about how important it is to know what the rules and fees are whilst totally failing to properly explain them.

    Think I might just sign up for it with a couple of 'throwaway' sets and see.

    If you want to do that, read these first:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/fba-help/QRG/FBA-Shipping-Matrix.pdf

    Scroll down to the second page, small parcel requirements. Yes, Amazon takes those seriously.

    Then read over this:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/fba-help/QRG/FBA-Shipping-Inventory-to-Amazon.pdf

    Yes, that really is 35 pages long, and it details how to pack and ship items to Amazon. Fun stuff! :)
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    Selling on Amazon has really never made any sense to me, as it's better suited to larger businesses, but the fees are extremely prohibitive... even at the higher end of mid-range volume.

    On the other end, for your average hobby-seller, you have all the cons LFT listed. They package your product as carelessly as they package their own items and a customer can return anything for any reason (you CAN charge a restocking fee... but if you sold an unopened Falcon that comes back open and missing a bag or two... there's little you can do about it... though if you're using FBA for a UCS Falcon or any other high-end set, it's likely you don't know what you're doing anyway).

    To me, FBA (and selling on Amazon in general, honestly) only makes sense if you're selling something that's low value on your end and you can afford to eat a loss or ten. For someone looking to shift a few LEGO sets, the fees aren't even nearly worth the hassle and loss of product you could potentially get in return.
  • JP3804JP3804 Member Posts: 332
    I have been selling on Amazon for 4 years and had very few issues.

    Customer service needs to be topnotch.

    Be prepared to refund without argument. You are expected to answer any customer or potential customer questions within 24 hrs, not having stock for something you have listed is frowned upon. If you receive feedback on 10% of your sales you are doing well.

    Selling toys over the holidays is restricted. I believe you have to have 25 completed sales in the 60 days before November 1st with no late shipments, cancelled orders, negative feedback or late response time.

    I'm sure there's more.

    Hope this helps.

    I do not use FBA
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    JP3804 said:

    I have been selling on Amazon for 4 years and had very few issues.

    I'm not surprised, based on what you wrote. How many people will read your first sentence and gloss over the rest?
    JP3804 said:

    Customer service needs to be topnotch.

    This, times ten...
    JP3804 said:

    Be prepared to refund without argument. You are expected to answer any customer or potential customer questions within 24 hrs, not having stock for something you have listed is frowned upon. If you receive feedback on 10% of your sales you are doing well.

    Ahh, the refunding... :) Yep, the forums are filled with posts that start like this:

    "I sold an item, I'm not a business, the customer wants to send it back, but I don't want to take it, I refused and now Amazon refunded them anyway... not fair!"

    BTW, that required customer service reply within 24 hours... That is 7 days a week, no exceptions. A few missed are ok, but you wouldn't want to make a habit of being late on those.
    JP3804 said:

    Selling toys over the holidays is restricted. I believe you have to have 25 completed sales in the 60 days before November 1st with no late shipments, cancelled orders, negative feedback or late response time.

    I'm sure there's more.

    Hope this helps.

    I do not use FBA

    The worst are the sellers who could sell toys, but are cut off mid-season because they didn't keep up their metrics...

    The other worst are those complaining that sales pick up over the holidays and velocity limits kick in (cutting out future sales), or they put the account on review, you can keep selling, but they'll hold your money for 30-90 days to make sure customers are happy.

    They might let you sell all Christmas season, but if you suddenly start selling 10 times as much stuff (easy to do during Christmas), they might hold all the money until Jan 15th. How many small sellers can handle the cashflow of getting no payments for 60 days?

    -----------

    None of the above are really issues for larger sellers, just a few of the reasons why Amazon is a rough place for small sellers to do business.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    In line with the above, I would also add that if you're big enough that Amazon isn't really a hassle and the fees are offset by volume... you should also be big enough to promote your own site and/or store.

    So again, to me, there's no real advantage to selling on Amazon, regardless of what your business model may be.
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,097
    I've never sold a Lego set on Amazon. I have sold a lot of other things though. I had only one problem with a Nigerian scammer who tried using a phony Amazon email. I had one return I had to accept on a DVD. Otherwise fairly easy transactions. I like that I don't have to post pictures and listing is a lot easier than ebay. I don't like the fixed shipping rates or the occasional withholding of funds. For the most part I think buyers are more discerning and serious on Amazon than they are on ebay. I've had a couple of recent no-pay buyers on ebay. Very frustrating to have to wait a week before you can re-list the item. Nothing is perfect.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    mathew said:

    I've never sold a Lego set on Amazon. I have sold a lot of other things though.

    Amazon is great for selling books, DVDs, CDs, etc. Or it was, until the sales of that stuff fell off a cliff. :)
  • DadsAFOLDadsAFOL USAMember Posts: 617
    ^^The "real advantage" is the staggering reach of potential customers. It is impossible to understate this. Amazon has millions of shoppers visit per day. When your product becomes the lowest price, it will sell quickly. I had 5x copies of #4866 listed at 2x RRP. Just sitting there patiently since last year. Then everyone with a lower price sold out. I sold all 5 copies in a span of about 6 hours to different buyers because I was the cheapest seller.

    So if you can price items approriately to deal with the fees and potential for returns/loss, then Amazon can be a great marketplace. But its not a place for hobby sellers.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited May 2013
    I already sell on Amazon, and the pros and cons are well discussed here. Yes, they can be a PITA but they're big enough and have enough of a monopoly that it's worth living with if the benefits are worthwhile - which they are for normal selling.

    Still not sure about 'Fulfilled by Amazon' selling, though, and its that I was wondering about. The pricing is so utterly ridiculously complex.
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    Si - if you have room in your shipping container why not take it all to NZ with you. I bet you'll be able to get great prices on it over there on ebay, since it's so overpriced there anyway!
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited May 2013
    Yes, that was my thought, but if customs are having a bad day that day they might want to charge me 15% duty on it, which is a deal breaker.

    Also, if I dont take them I can take a car, and cars are expensive over there :)
  • joel4motionjoel4motion United KingdomMember Posts: 959

    Yes, that was my thought, but if customs are having a bad day that day they might want to charge me 15% duty on it, which is a deal breaker.

    Also, if I dont take them I can take a car, and cars are expensive over there :)

    cant you fit most of it in the car and take both?!?

  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited May 2013
    Nope, its a car not a truck.
    joel4motion
  • morezonemorezone Member Posts: 207
    I'm assuming you are thinking of leaving most of your inventory with FBA.
    As long as you think you can shift them within a year it would probably be ok. Anything stored for over 1 year incurs a long term storage fee which is huge. It was close to £900 per cubic metre as of 2012.
    You will probably get the odd parcel which isn't packaged adequately and will have to partially refund or have it returned for a full refund. That's just the cost of business with FBA. But if you open it up worldwide or even just the EU, you can potentially sell a lot more of it quicker. Amazon can ship a lot of products cheaper than doing it yourself and this gain can be used to offset any damaged items.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited May 2013
    I don't have tons of any one product so should be fine with long term storage fees since the first item of any SKU has no fee.

    yeah, worldwide looks good.


    packing should be fine so long as they dont mind second hand boxes. do they have to look professional?
  • morezonemorezone Member Posts: 207
    You don't actually pre-package anything. You send them in "as is" and pre-labelled (best option in my opinion). The only thing you have to watch out for is the box condition. If it's new, then it has to be near mint. If there's enough damage they may decide it is unsaleable and it will then cost you to have it returned.
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