Yesterday I ranted a bit about Amazon.com’s marketplace. Today I have two more examples that I’d like to share with you, demonstrating some flaws in the Amazon marketplace.
First, consider another book that we sold today. This book sold for $2.50 cents. This time the buyer choose expedited shipping. When a buyer chooses expedited shipping, the variable closing fee changes to only $.44 cents. Amazon’s commission is still 15% (in this case, $.38), and the just-because-we-can fee of $.99 is still assessed. Amazon’s total commission for this sale then was $1.81. Since the buyer chose expedited shipping, Amazon added $5.49 for shipping. Add those totals up: Buyer paid $7.99, Amazon took $1.81; I ended up with a deposit of $6.18 cents, from which I have to pay for packaging and shipping.
Since I’m sending the package out Priority Mail (after all, the buyer paid for expedited shipping, right?), I don’t have to pay for packaging. The post office covers that for you. However, because the book weighs 2.5 pounds, Priority Mail shipping is $6.40. Take that out of the $6.18 that I got paid, and I end up $.22 cents in the hole for having sold this book.
Amazon knows the shipping weight of the book. It is plainly listed in the item’s description. Why can’t they charge the customer enough money to cover shipping? How can Amazon tell a customer that the order will go out priority mail, and only charge $5.49 for shipping, when Amazon KNOWS that the item can’t ship for less than $6.40? Amazon needs to adjust their shipping prices accordingly such that shipping credits more accurately reflect actual postage prices.
Second, here is one book I have for sale: It’s listed at $.01. When this book sells, Amazon will get no commission, but they will still get the $1.23 closing fee and the $.99 just-because-we-can fee. That is $2.22 that goes into their lump “commission.” That means that the buyer will pay $3.50 with shipping, Amazon takes their $2.22 cut, and I end up with $1.28, from which I pay shipping and packaging. Mail rates start at $1.59, sans packaging. (Unless I can send the item first-class, which is cheaper if the book is quite light.) I’m realizing that I’ve got to raise the price of my book!
Amazon should not be allowed to take a commission larger than the amount of the sale price of the book. The commission in this example is equal to 2220% of the book’s sale price. How is that fair? It would be fair if Amazon would restrict their commission to a maximum of 100% of the item’s sale price. Then at least I could maybe afford to ship the item to the customer. At least I could get rid of the book without having to pay somebody to take it.
Third, Amazon’s shipping charges are different for marketplace orders than for Amazon.com orders. In the Marketplace, Amazon.com only collects $3.49 for standard shipping and $5.49 for 2-day shipping. Amazon however realizes that this isn’t enough money to ship items. Note that when THEY ship books from Amazon.com’s own stock, they collect $3.99 for standard shipping and $9.48 for 2-day shipping. Marketplace users get $.50 less for standard shipping and $4.00 less on 2-day shipping than Amazon charges their own customers! Why does Amazon think it costs them more money to ship an item than it will cost a Marketplace seller?
Ah well. In the end selling with Amazon marketplace is a choice. The trick is to only list books that you can sell for a profit. If you are considering selling on Amazon’s marketplace, beware of Amazon’s fees! Make sure you know in advance how much money you’ll make for a book’s sale, and then make sure that it is at least enough to ship the book wherever it needs to go.
Maybe its time to do as Dave suggested and check out eBay. Hey, maybe I’ll at least try it and see what happens. It can’t be worse than Amazon, can it? (Famous last words, I know!)