Tuesday 20 December 2016

[Seller Speak] 7 problems every Amazon seller is bound to face with the marketplace

Some say Amazon is a mature online marketplace mainly because it’s been in the business of online retail for years now. Consumers seem to enjoy the services provided by the etailer and this has put it in the lead with Flipkart. Among sellers, there are a few who believe that Amazon is far better in its policies compared to other marketplaces. On the flip side, there are others who think the marketplace should work more on its services towards online sellers.
Indian Online Seller has shed light on a couple of severe issues faced by vendors on this ecommerce platform. These include:
  • Non-responsive/ inadequate Amazon seller support
  • Kinks in the Amazon shipment tracking system
  • Fake reviews for product on Amazon
  • Sale of counterfeit products
In spite of bringing these issues to the notice of the etailer, online sellers say that their requests are being ignored completely.
We spoke with an online seller who says he faces trouble with Amazon on a regular basis. It’s not just the big problems like those stated above. It is everyday simple things that are causing online seller Vishal grief when he sells on Amazon.
The online merchant has interacted with the marketplace about his troubles, however, he has not seen any relief with regards to the same. Here are some of the issues the seller listed out for us to understand his plight with the online retail platform.

Problem #1 – Removal orders dispatched without tracking id

According to the seller, removal orders are those that are no longer sellable. For example, in the event that a product is opened, damaged or used when sent back by the customer it becomes unsellable. These goods remain at the marketplace warehouse and simply occupy space. For this the seller must pay storage fees. So, it is essential for sellers to collect these products from the marketplace to avoid unnecessary expanses.
With regards to tracking ids for removal orders, Vishal says, “We do not get tracking ids for removal orders on the seller panel. This makes it inconvenient for us to track the products that should come back to us.”
He further adds, “We face a problem where removal orders are shipped to the wrong seller by Amazon courier partner, Delhivery. And, without proper tracking information we do not know where our removal orders go.”

Problem #2 – Inbound shipment delays

Inbound shipment refers to delivery at the warehouse, Vishal tells us. To complete product shipment to the fulfilment centre (FC) it takes around one hour. Which is way too long.
“The FC has third party security who use yard management software. The problem here is that these third party security guards appear to be uneducated and as a result, a lot of time is consumed when they try to issue gate passes to online sellers,” claims Vishal.
At the same time, during inbound delivery, sellers must wear high visibility jackets. Vishal states that these are very dirty and unhygienic. When the seller brought this to the notice of the marketplace he received the following response from the Amazon team,
“… Please understand the FC has 60-70 appointments every day and it is not feasible to provide brand new jackets. In case you are not comfortable wearing these, you can send some representative from your office…”

Problem #4 – COD cannot be disabled for FBA sellers

The moment you become an FBA seller you cannot disable the COD payment option. With the current demonetisation crisis, COD causes issues for online sellers due to returns.
Vishal says, “Amazon deactivated COD when demonetisation was introduced. But, that lasted for only 24-48 hours. We saw approximately 60 to 80% deductions in COD payment payments due to mounting product returns.”

Problem #4 – Seller support does not reply for days

As we’ve already covered, Amazon seller service is below par. Vishal mentions that when an issue is raised, the seller support associates do not listen for days and do not escalate the issue to their internal team.
Another online seller responded to our article on the subject with the following,
Seller comment
Check out what other sellers had to say about this issue here.

Problem #5 – Buyers get only 30 minutes to cancel orders

Online seller Vishal states that an Amazon buyer is given a window of just 30 minutes to cancel an order placed. After the 30 minutes are up, the order cancellation window closes and the buyer cannot cancel the order placed. It is shown as order dispatched. But, in reality this is not true.
He says, “This leads to undeliverable returns which cost the seller heavy return fees, this is approximately Rs.50 to Rs.60 minimum per order.”

Problem #6 – Product breakage during transit

The third party delivery persons Amazon used to deliver Vishal’s goods would over pack their delivery bags with products from different sellers. This would result in product breakage and ultimately returns to the seller.
“This ends up costing the seller return charges and the cost of product loss,” He informs us.
When Amazon support was informed of this, they responded with,
“… Regarding the items not being packed properly, please understand that FC doesn’t differentiate on the packing standards specific to sellers. Once the inventory comes in, there is no visibility to FC team during processing, that a particular item belongs to which seller. The packing is done as per Amazon standard and as per system recommendation. Kindly contact our Seller Support team in case you have received items which got damaged in the transit…”
The FC accepts 100% damaged returns and no liability is fixed for the carrier when the product is delivered damaged, Vishal tells to us.
“Why does Amazon want to make money off of returned goods?” he says out of frustration.
“Note, when a full refund is asked for, Amazon retains 20% of the original order-related fees. That is a maximum of Rs.300 on each item that is refunded. This amount is termed as refund administrative fee. The etailer will credit the amount of the order-related fees paid to it that is attributable to the amount of the customer refund, less the administration fee,” adds Vishal.

Problem #7 – Copyright infringements by other Amazon sellers

The CEO of Gizmobaba Alok Chawla believes that Amazon is turning a blind eye to brand infringement on the platform and so does Amazon seller, Vishal.
“There is no gatekeeping or brand authorisation in place before listing and selling any fake products. Sellers are allowed to list products of brands registered to other sellers and for this they do not have our brand authorisation. I am a brand registered seller but new sellers come to the platform and list the same products as us and we in turn need to raise complaints of infringement and have them removed,” says Vishal.
He adds, “This is an everyday process for us and it should be stopped because it is not scalable. A form or gatekeeping should exist and whoever wants to list products under my brand name should email me (the brand owner) directly to obtain authorisation. Only after that he should be allowed to sell products under my brand name.”
The online seller mentions that Paytm, Flipkart and other online marketplaces all have a gatekeeping system in place it’s only Amazon that lacks one. Making the necessary arrangements for this can save many sellers the wasteful task of creating repeated infringement cases. It will reduce the Amazon team’s work of going through a thousand infringement cases in a day.
Every Amazon seller is aware of all the above points Vishal informs us. And, the marketplace is also aware, but it hasn’t done anything to improve the situation for online sellers. When asked why he continues to sell on Amazon, Vishal tells us he hasn’t started selling aggressively on the marketplace as yet. So, it appears that the above hasn’t affected him drastically. However, it is a constant hindrance while doing business on Amazon and prevents him from getting serious with selling on the marketplace.
Out of the above problems listed, which ones have been the most severe for your business? Have you managed to overcome them? Let us know about your experiences in the comments section below.

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