Amazon, An unbelievable marketplace.

Amazon was the marketplace that threw investors during the dot-com boom because they had a ten year plan, while all the others had a a two week plan if they were lucky. The Year-On-Year growth of Amazon is to be ‘awed’ at and unlike other marketplaces, you never annoy their customers, because its their customers and they’ll kick you off with no chance of getting back on again for upsetting their customers. In short, Matthew aspires to eventually working with Amazon directly as the UK CEO.

Matthew has vast experience with launching merchants onto the Amazon platforms, including ‘Fulfilment By Amazon‘ or more commonly known as FBA.

Matthew is an Amazon expert and can help you leverage this channel effectively. You can contact him on his dedicated Contact Matthew page and see how Matthew can help your business.

Page Length 33% Shorter, 66% Better? – That Can’t Be Right?

You may have missed it, last Friday the homepage took a hefty re-design and was clipped by a third, but that’s worse right?


Wrong, Shorter is Better.

Shorter is BetterIf we compare the old landing page to the new landing page, size really does matter as the importance of what is being shown is increased as the number of items has decreased.

Before there were 7 core articles with longer descriptions and 6 sub articles, all arranged by date order, but not by importance to you, the user.

Now we have 3 core articles which are organised by date with larger descriptions, 7 of the most popular articles on the site to the right and one featured article of my choosing.

While this is only 3 articles less compared to the longer version, the amount of space that they take up & the ease of entry into them has increased N fold, because they’re right in front of you now.

And that’s my point, shorter is better because in this case the information that you need from the homepage is only a click away.

Your Layouts

This ports, really well to what you’re doing with your website and eBay listings. Get the critical information in front of the user ASAP and if you must have fluffy stuff (like me and my logo’s at the bottom), put them at the bottom out of the way of the main listing area, so users don’t have to scroll.

This is known as “above the fold” and “below the fold”. Everything “above the fold” is the part of the website, listing or website that the user see’s without scrolling and “below the fold” is everything below the first part of the page that the user sees.

The first part of the page AKA “above the fold” is ultra important, as that is the first part the customer sees when the page loads and is the reference point that the user comes back to, hence the action points should always be near the top and definitely in the the top 10-15% of the page.

eBay Amazon comparison

Each component of the header and top % of the page is really important, it’s like a map for a user to follow, looking at the image below for eBay & Amazon, you’ll notice that the placements are actually not that dissimilar for the home icon, breadcrumb, search, basket, product image, buy button, product options, prices, help and product sub images.

The only major difference is the layout and placement of the buying option, eBay is the middle and Amazon is to the right. Which makes me wonder, if eBay will ever try swapping these around?

The information the customer needs to know is right in front of them and the desired exit point.

In eBay & Amazon’s case it’s the buy option. Look how big both those objects are in the image above, the eBay buy button is a huge blue block and the Amazon buy box is also a huge blue box, that is no accident.

In my case on this site, it’s the register button, the registration area also being red helps, (which reminds me have you registered yet?), but I am ow wondering if I have made a mistake and I need to swap it to blue?

The New Forums – Have Your Say!

Recent Forum Posts WidgetWhile we’re on the topic of changes, you’ll see that the lower part of the homepage has been focused away from the content that I directly product in the form of articles & guides and instead focusing more heavily on  user driven content?

The forums went live last week and the messages left in the new forums  are shown on the left and the comments left on articles on the right.

I’m also developing a new widget area to show the latest forum threads, not just the replies so you we can get to the latest threads as quickly as possible.

It’s time that you have your say and while I do my best to cover as many topics as I can, together we are stronger and that’s why I need your help!

If you haven’t registered yet, the forums are now open and waiting your input. You can register here for free and a password will be emailed to you in seconds. I’m look forward to hearing from you.

And Finally….

Now you know about shorter page lengths and that “above the fold” is really important, because that is what the suer see’s first when they come to your product pages. Are your buy buttons on your website over to the right, clearly shown and easily accessible?

The Amazon Buy Box – You know the Secret Formula Right?


If you’ve not read this article before, then you’re in for a treat as the Amazon Buy Box pretty much obey’s the formula and has been proven to do so time and time again.Amazon UK

If you’re new to Amazon, then in short the holy grail of Amazon is the blue buy box and if you’ve not come across the buy box before, you cannot miss it, it’s blue and on the right-hand side of almost every product on Amazon.

Hey, they’re infectious! There is one over to the right :)

When there is only a single seller fighting for the buy box, there can only be one winner, but when there are two or more sellers, then assuming that everything is even, you can win the Amazon Buy Box with the formula in this article.

The Amazon Buy Box Factors

However there is a but… This assumes that everything is equal and we know that nothing is ever a level playing field, especially when it comes to marketplaces and Amazon, well is not always even either (see this article Why do eBay Sales Stay Consistent? for further reading).

There are many factors that influence who gets the buy box on Amazon and ChannelAdvisor points out the obvious in their help file,  as a reference, I have put an amended table below.

FactorWhat Amazon is ConsideringWinning Practices
Featured Merchant StatusHow trustworthy you are based upon account history.Being noticed by the Amazon account managers.As ChannelAdvisor suggest, it doesn’t hurt to ask Amazon support about your “Featured Merchant Status”
PriceWhat is your product price? What is your shipping charge?Low total price, including product price and shipping
AvailabilityHow many do you have in stock? How quickly can you ship?Quick and consistent fulfillment
VolumeDo you sell many of this product?Consistency
RefundsHow often do you issue a refund for seller error?Low refund rate
Customer FeedbackHow do customers rate your service?Low negative feedback ratings
Customer SupportHow quickly you deal with customer queriesAnswering in less than 24 hours, 7 days a week (yes that’s weekends included)
A-to-z Guarantee ClaimsHow often do you get returns?Low A-to-z claims

A Special Note on FBA

But that’s not all, because we have not included the “motherload” which is “Fulfilment By Amazon” AKA “FBA”.

FBA means that the seller has one or more of their products in Amazon’s fulfilment centres and because Amazon has it, have verified it’s condition and knows it can get the product out to its Amazon Prime subscribers, then it promotes FBA held items heavily against seller fulfilled items and routinely it’s going to take a hefty price difference to shake FBA products out of the buy box, or is it?

The Amazon Buy Box Rule?

If you have had a slap from Amazon, whether that’s an account warning or a suspension and very worryingly even if it was not your fault and a mistake on Amazon’s part (we have this documented in a support email back from Amazon) then this can count against you if everything is even.

But course your business exceeds in every area on Amazon, you are the perfect seller, well second to Amazon that is, so for the following to work, we’re assuming that everything is level.

So to the “Amazon Buy Box Formula”:

(Lowest Selling Price – 2.7%)

– £0.01
= The Buy Box, For Longer

By taking away 2.7% off the lowest selling price (including postage) and an extra penny, you receive the Amazon buy box for much, much longer.

It took me ages to work this out, testing, refreshing over many days it’s this worked out to be the lowest % and value I could get trigger the buy box and for it to stick.

The minus one penny is in the formula for the lower priced goods in the sub £20 area, it always seemed to take that extra penny to kick the box into action.

There are a few clauses, on the accounts I tested this out on, they were ALL of a great standing with Amazon, no major issues and all had long track records of great service. The other is none of these accounts were using FBA (Fulfilment By Amazon). FBA is a lethal advantage as I mentioned above, to shake FBA items takes a little bit more.

Also none of the products that were tested on were over £50, I am sure there is alterations in the trigger for the buy box, the percentage is likely to be a lot less than 2.7% at these levels.

Your Feedback

I would like for you to try this on ONE product for ONE day and let us know your results.

I know that several of the readers here have used this formula to great success over the past year since I first published this article, what I’d for you to do is try it for yourself for a day and let me know your results here by leaving me a comment below.

Alternatively if you have been using it, let us know your feedback as the formula does move around in different categories and price brackets, again let me know in the comments box and of course if we lost you anywhere in this article, don’t hesitate to ask in the forums.

So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on eBay Compared to Amazon?

Item Not Received” how I bet you love that message appearing in your inbox, but how much more common is it for eBay purchases compared to Amazon purchases to go AWOL?

It’s a curious question raised numerous times now in conversation and this time around I’m going to share parts of an ongoing email conversation with a chap called Mr B.

So that they remain anonymous, Mr B obviously isn’t their real name, the quotes are though.

We’d both love to hear your experiences by leaving us a comment in the comments box at the bottom of this page.

So let’s dive in…

Mr B Says: On my Amazon store I have just passed the 2,000 orders sent mark and so I feel a reasonable figure to start drawing comparisons Item not received: on Amazon I have had exactly 2 from 2,000app. and both were for less than £5 sale price and so I’m absolutely sure genuine losses

It’s never nice to have a disappointed customer because of the delivery part of the order, but it happens. That to me seems about right, yea we all get losses, but it’s never really that high and 0.1% is tolerable and to be expected, stuff just gets lost, regardless of the carrier being used.


Mr B Says: If I was to compare this like for like with my eBay UK only sales I can often expect maybe as high as 2% I am no mathematician but I think this can be as much as 15% of my bottom line after all expenses involved in resolving.

So that’s about 20 orders per 1000 orders despatched, as the point is made above, when you factor in the extra legwork needed to solve these issues, 15% is probably quite generous, especially in a small business where there maybe only one or two members of staff. Those kind of numbers hurt.

Mr B Says: To be fare on eBay I think perhaps dishonest customers are a legacy of the old eBay the dodgy professional sellers have by and large been weeded out but the scam buyers remain and in my opinion are rather cynically protected by eBay/paypal policies as of course they still generate fees all be they completely at sellers expense.

I do mostly agree with ebay and paypal policies ultimately no customers = no sellers but ebays policy in pushing for these cases to be resolved with ought opening disputes does sadly keep the minority of dishonest customers hidden (I am sure you have also noticed item not received customers very very rarely leave feedback even after issue resolved) something I have noticed is that it is most likely the genuine lost in post customers that do leave glowing feedback on how issue was resolved.

On a side topic here, notice how Mr B refers to an “Old eBay”, this is now becoming quite common in discussions and hats off to eBay, their plodding to transform the site from its beginnings are starting to pay off in it’s sellers community.

Mr B also makes another very interesting point, if your order had been lost and the seller had been super helpful in resolving the issue for you, then why the hell would not leave them glowing feedback? His suggestion that the people who do not, probably have something to hide, while may taint the odd genuine loss, but for the best part is probably very true.


A Possible Solution?

Normally sellers have solutions to such problems already worked out and ideas on how they would tackle them if they could change the system to do so. Mr B not surprisingly, has his own ideas and it’s not bad:

Mr B Says: I feel a very simple solution would be to implement a system allowing sellers to atleast report customer has not received an item the chronic cases will be high lighted very quickly and a few prosecutions I’m sure will benefit all.

Failing that if a customer has a history of items not received perhaps a personal warning to seller that secure postage advised on an individual rather than global basis would atleast allow seller to make an informed decision before posting would be welcomed.

While we have settings in the Site Preferences under “Buyer Requirements“section of My eBay that covers some basic options:

  • Buyers without a PayPal account
  • Buyers with unpaid items recorded
  • Buyers in locations to which I don’t post
  • Buyers with policy breach reports
  • Buyers with a negative Feedback score
  • Buyers who may bid on several of my items and not pay for them
  • Buyers with no credit card on file

The only one option of these that could possibly help Mr B and you is the “Buyers with a negative Feedback score”, but since sellers are not unable to leave negative feedback on buyer accounts, the last line of defence is now gone.

With the feedback out of the loop and let’s face it the unlikely chances that eBay will tell you that a specific buyer is suspicious or has a risky address (more on this in a moment), then taking Mr B’s suggestion and adding a claims/ item not received option to the buyer requirements would be a very good addition.

Amazon LogoQuickly flipping over to Amazon for a few moments, for purchases made directly from Amazon, it’s always bemused me that why exactly the same product at very similar prices would be delivered by two different methods to two addresses within a few minutes walk of each other.

Even when queried in the past, Amazon staff are not entirely sure what causes one order to be sent via one method and another via another method, especially when you factor in a slight change of postcodes for exactly the same product.

Makes you wonder what extra processing of risk assessment Amazon has at their disposal, but that’s a topic for a different day…. So going back to Mr B.

Mr B Says: I don’t know if you have any contacts within Royal Mail? Personally I rarely make lost parcel claims at present due to time and effort involved lol but I am sure lost parcel claims specifically ebay related must be a big chunk from RM’s bottom line and so they would probably welcome and perhaps atleast partially fund needed changes at eBay

Just after receiving the OK from Mr B to use parts of our conversion, I contacted Royal Mail and they have not been back before the publishing of this article.

Pity, but what I would add is that part of the business contracts with RM, is that as part of the discount you get, is that you forfeit the ability to claim for losses. Ironically so if an order does get lost in transit, that you are actually paying RM to do that for you. Something that has driven me personally nuts in the past.

Your Feedback

Myself & Mr B would love to know what your experiences are when comparing Amazon to eBay for ‘lost’ items.

  • Do you see a difference in order losses between eBay & Amazon?
  • How much they impact you and your staff?
  • What would you change?

You can let us know in the comments box below.

Will You be at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2012 Event?

ChannelAdvisor Catalyst 2012

Catalyst Register 2012It’s getting closer! I was pretty much veto’d from attending the Catalyst event for the best part of 5 years due to working for competitors, I had always recommended others to go and the feedback was always really positive.

So last year I broke my Catalyst virginity and attended the ChannelAdvisor event at the Park Plaza Riverside hotel in London and I’m really looking forward to attending this years event. Its also a special time for me as I’m getting married to my partner of 12 years a few days after, so if you’re attending and would like to meet up for a beer afterwards, let me know!

I’m also looking forward to meeting David Spitz again and also the new Managing Director of EMEA Seamus.
(I wonder if he has the same dancing skills as James?)

Chris from Tamebay has a special voucher for the event, giving you a £80 discount, use the code “tamebay2012” when registering.


This year we have an interesting line up of speakers including:

*coff* they’re all links to LinkedIn profiles ;-)

The event is spread over two days, Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th May. The agendas are below:

Monday, 28 May, 2012

9:00 AM  –  10:00 AM
Registration Open
Location: Foyer Area
10:00 AM  –  10:45 AM

1 – International Expansion: Breaking down borders

2 – Becoming Social- Tips on using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube to generate leads

3 – The Evolving Customer

10:45 AM  –  11:30 AM

1 – Putting the changes in Comparison Shopping to work for you

2 – Time to get mobile- Making your business mobile friendly

3 – Back-Office Integration: How to simplify your processes

11:30 AM  –  12:00 PM
Networking Break

Exhibition Open

Strategy & Support Booths Open

12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM

1 – Creating an engaging and user-friendly website that converts

2 – Whats hot and whats not – Channel Trends

3 – How to succeed and make more money online

1:00 PM  –  2:00 PM
Networking Lunch

Exhibition Open

Strategy & Support Booths Open

2:45 PM  –  3:30 PM

1 – Our path to success” One company’s insight into their business.

2 – How Retailers Can Succeed Independently with Daily Deal and Flash Sale Campaigns

3 – eBay Best Practices, things to ensure that you do, things to ensure that you don’t do.

3:30 PM  –  4:00 PM
Networking Break

Exhibition Open

Strategy & Support Booths Open

4:00 PM  –  4:45 PM

1 – Online Marketing Strategy- Tips, Tools and Techniques

2- Leveraging CRM to Streamline and Grow your eCommerce Business

3 – Trading online – Making Payments simple

4:45 PM  –  5:30 PM
1 – Becoming a Top Rated Seller on eBay2 – How to win the Buy Box3 – TBA
5:30 PM  –  10:00 PM
Catalyst Drinks Party
In The Sky Bar

Tuesday, 29th May

8:00 AM  –  5:00 PM
Registration/Info Desk Open
8:00 AM  –  9:00 AM
Networking Refreshments
9:00 AM  –  9:45 AM
Scot Wingo – CEO, ChannelAdvisor
9:45 AM  –  10:30 AM
The Changing Face of the Global Retail Landscape – Panel Discussion
10:30 AM  –  11:00 AM
Networking Break
11:00 AM  –  12:00 PM
Miriam Lahage, Global Head of Fashion Brand, eBay
12:00 PM  –  1:00 PM
Jacqueline Gold, Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox
1:00 PM  –  2:00 PM
Networking Lunch
2:00 PM  –  2:45 PM
Amazon Keynote
2:45 PM  –  3:15 PM
Interview with Peter Briffett, MD, LivingSocial UK, Ireland & Netherlands
3:15 PM  –  3:45 PM
Taking Retail Mobile – Panel Discussion
3:45 PM  –  4:15 PM
Networking Break


Strategy & Support Booths Open

4:15 PM  –  5:00 PM
Gavin Sathianathan, Head of Commerce Partnerships, Facebook
5:00 PM  –  5:30 PM
Practical tips to immediately apply to your business
5:30 PM  –  7:00 PM
Drinks & Networking Reception

Are You Attending?

So will I be seeing you there this year? Let me know in the comments box below.

Amazon Just Made it REALLY Difficult for 99.9% of UK Businesses

First there was the price parity warnings, then there was the policy warnings for buyer response times, then Amazon started to get aggressive with 3rd party businesses by throwing them off and now… They’re bulking in all the really expensive places in the UK to ship to as mainland UK.

I’m going to start this article with a direct and open message to Amazon.

Open Message to Amazon

Dear “Amazon”,

It’s crystal clear that you care deeply about your customers, this also happens to be the same people we, as 3rd party merchants, care very much about too.

As much as this will be distasteful to you, on behalf of every business that uses the Amazon UK marketplace, please… take a lesson from eBay on communicating messages to your 3rd party merchants.

eBay just released a set of updates for their their marketplaces in a structured, well considered approach, taking the time to bundle several changes together into a single update and added excellent communications around this, this included a dedicated section of their website to the updates, video content and 3rd parties were informed.

We, [plural, as I am speaking for the businesses that I work with and the 11 frantic emails I received so far this evening from other concerned business owners (I’m sure more will follow tomorrow)] would like it very much if you could try and bulk up changes that are going to come out very close to each other, so that as multi-channel business owners we can react to them in one go.

Sometimes we may not like the updates you make, but we also understand that you are looking out for the best interests of our customers too.

While we may not like that the new change to the shipping, because it’s going to cost us an absolute fortune for certain product verticals, we do understand why you would like to make such a change, as it has the best interests for those customers in the outskirts of the UK mainland.

However, this is the 3rd update in as many weeks and it would not take much effort you bundle these together into a single update.

We’re not asking for the level of communication that eBay provides, just to slow down and give us chance to digest and react to the changes, rather than hitting us with three consecutive blows.

Thank you

Take a read of this, if you haven’t seen your’s yet, it’ll be in the email spam folder:

Subject: Important information about the UK Shipping Settings in your seller account

Dear Seller,

We are writing to let you know about a change to the UK shipping regions in your seller account. As of 21st March 2012, deliveries to the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, as well as other off-mainland locations, will be included in the main “UK Street” shipping region.

We are making this change in order to ensure a consistent delivery experience for buyers on our site. Customers can now shop in confidence knowing that they will be charged the same rates for delivery to addresses throughout the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Your “UK Mainland Street” delivery rates will be automatically applied to the new “UK Street” region. If you wish to modify your current pricing, click the “Shipping Settings” link on the Settings tab in your Seller Central account, and then click the Edit button at the top of the Shipping Model section.

To find out more about changing your shipping settings, enter “Shipping Settings” in the Search box in the upper-right corner of the main seller Help page, or click “Configure My Shipping Settings” under the Configure Account Settings heading.

Thank you for selling on Amazon.

Amazon Services Europe

What Do You Think?

You can’t even block these locations now, if you start refunding orders from these locations, you’ll get policy warnings and jeopardise your account, if you make no changes then we’ll take a hit to your margins and not all our products are suitable for FBA.

So the only thing that gives, is to increase the shipping values used to even out the excessive courier & shipping rates to these locations.

Am I wrong? Was the message fair? What do you think?

Let me know in the comments box below.

Amazon Gets Aggressive With Price Parity

This is a follow-up article from the original posted a few days ago regarding Have You Received a Price Parity Policy Warning from Amazon? and it’s not pleasant.

If you’ve not read the earlier article yet or the comments, then this won’t make much sense to you just yet and obviously key parts of the email have been removed. This is the first sign that Amazon really means business with its sellers when it comes to Price Parity and makes for sick reading

Greetings From Amazon

Greetings from Amazon,

We are writing to let you know that we have suspended your selling privileges and placed a temporary hold on any funds in your Amazon seller account.

As stated in our earlier warnings, we generally require that sellers do not charge customers higher prices on Amazon than they charge elsewhere through their other online sales channels. This is critical to preserve fairness for Amazon customers.

It has come to our attention that some of your listings, such as those listed below still do not abide by this policy.

For more information, please refer to Section S-4 (“Parity with your Sales Channels”) of the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement, available in the Policies and Agreements section of seller Help.

We encourage you to take appropriate steps to resolve any pending orders.

Before we can consider reinstating your selling privileges, you must provide us with a detailed plan to ensure compliance with our policies. We will then review your plan and determine whether to reinstate your privileges.

For information on creating and submitting your plan of action, search for “Appeals for Suspended or Blocked Accounts” in seller Help.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Seller Performance Team

Appeals for Suspended or Blocked Accounts

I did find it odd that there was no link to the help section in this email, which is at

What I am curious about is whether this page is updated to include a new example around the price parity topic…

Not pleasant reading and thankfully (for the businesses I work with) this came in from a 3rd party earlier this morning. Even still it wasn’t nice reading and I really do feel for this business as Amazon can account for a huge majority of sales volume for some eCommerce businesses.

Amazon, if it was a human, it would be a woman and she would be a ……….. (But I love her none the less).

So those parity emails, ignore them at your peril!

Amazon Policy Warning For Buyer-Seller Contact Response Times

This is the one I know you’ve been waiting for… Looks like Amazon are about to start enforcing the Buyer-Seller Response times to buyers as a measured metric on your Amazon dashboards.

If you missed the Amazon Price Parity article a few days, you can find it here, as Amazon appear to be focusing on 3rd party sellers this quarter.

Amazon Policy Warning Email

Below is the email being sent out from Amazon, you might have one of these too this morning:

Dear Seller,

Buyers tell us that receiving timely responses from sellers to their enquiries is an important contributor to their overall satisfaction with an order. Our research has shown that sellers who respond to 90% or more of their messages within 24 hours have nearly 24% less negative feedback than sellers who take longer to respond.

To help make your Amazon Marketplace transactions successful, we recommend that you respond to buyer enquiries within 24 hours. You can access buyer enquiries by clicking the “Messages” link in the upper-right corner of your seller account home page. Copies of messages are also sent to the e-mail address associated with your account.

You can monitor your average response times on the Customer Metrics page of your seller account. Your Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time metrics are located at the bottom of the page.

For more information on how response time metrics are calculated, search on “Contact Response Time Metrics” in our online seller Help.

The following are some best practices for achieving a great response time metric:

– Regularly monitor your response time metrics.
– Check your seller account for messages every day, including at the weekend.
– Mark messages you have read but not responded to as “unread” in your e-mail client.
– Use a Contact Response Management (CRM) system to track enquiries.
– Let buyers know if a question or issue will require additional time to research.
– If you receive the same questions on a regular basis, consider creating a document with prepared answers.


Amazon Services Europe

Account Screenshot

I’ve included a screenshot from an account that has had this policy warning. You’ll notice that the account is in really good standing except for the communications rate, which appears to be an ongoing issue.

Note: No apologies for the blurred areas. You don’t need to know these values & Amazon employees read this site (hola!).

Amazon Policy Warning Buyer Communication Time

What is an Issue Is…

While I’m not going to argue with the statement that sellers who respond quickly to emails are more likely to have less negative feedback, that makes sense and the business in question could work on decreasing the response times, as it will have a wider benefit other than not having policy warnings from Amazon.

What is an issue is:

  1. Weekends are included in this rating
  2. Even if a customer says “Thanks”, the message needs to be marked as “not needing a response”

These two issues are real problems for businesses that are closed on the weekends and even just one day, they could easily score a closed response for a buyer just saying “thanks” if they were there, but if they’re not and have some form of life-work balance, it’s being missed.

An obvious idea is to set up an auto responder to reply to Amazon questions quickly, but I’m sure it won’t take Amazon long to start blocking such responses or to add that as a violation too.

I’ve had a couple of these forwarded to me this morning (it appears to be a mass mailer from Amazon)  and have checked a couple of Amazon Seller Central accounts, they ALL have yellow values for response times and found another one that was showing red as well. I’ll work with the businesses that have sent this to see what underlying processes can be altered to tackle this on a long term basis.

In the comments area I have added a note around the policy page for “Customer Response Time metrics”, you can view the page here and an interesting quote is:

Will response-time metrics be used in seller performance evaluations?
Response-time metrics are not normally reviewed during seller performance evaluations, but we may review these metrics if a Seller Account shows extremely poor performance in other areas. Note, however, that customers who do not receive timely responses are more likely to leave negative feedback or to file claims, which will affect your performance metrics directly. It is therefore important to review these response-time metrics regularly.

I do wonder if this is going to change in the next few weeks…

Check Your Amazon Account Now

You can check your Amazon Seller Central account here:

What do You Make of This Warning?

  • Have you had a policy violation as well this morning?
  • How do you you cope responses at weekends, when there is no-one in the office?
  • Is your account Red or Yellow for the Buyer-Seller Contact Response Time?

Let me know in the comments box below.

What if the prices for everything were the same?


This whole price parity issue with Amazon over the past few days as got me thinking. What if the prices for everything were the same?

Let’s imagine for a few minutes what would happen if we say, all governed by a communist government worldwide and one of the parts of the establishment was that for all products, the prices had to be the same.If Prices Were the Same?

I mean everything, from a can of coke to a Plasma TV. If it’s exactly the same product it has to be exactly the same price set by a third party, no if’s, no but’s and you go to jail if you break the rules. (The jail part is harsh, but I’m just making the point).

Now before you start picking holes, unbranded goods would fall into categories, for example, a printed T-Shirt, regardless of design or material would be a fixed price. All broken or refurbished goods have to be scrapped. Every single product is categorised and has its own fixed price, regardless of country of origin or point of sale and cross-border trade was not allowed.

How Would You Differentiate Your Business?

Humouring me for a few moments, that everything businesses product has to be sold at the same price as their competitors.

What would you do to to compete in a marketplace where everything was equal as far as pricing is concerned?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.

How eSellerPro’s Channel Profile Can Help Your Business

One of eSellerPro’s core features is a function called a ‘Channel Profile’, in this article I’ll be covering the basics to what a ‘Channel Profile’ does and how it can help your business.

Multi-Channel selling is now an assumed practice for eCommerce businesses, unlocking the power to reach a much wider audience than you could ever have imagined, but sensibly. The Channel Profile feature in eSellerPro can enable you to achieve this.

I’ve put together a short video, where I describe the key benefits of using a channel profile and how it could help your business when dealing with multiple sales channels.

What is a Channel Profile?

The purpose of the channel profiler is to maximise the exposure of your inventory exposure across more than one channel, then once an update has happened to let the other channels know of that update to the stock level.

In eSellerPro you can create more than one channel profile (hence ‘profile’ in its name), which you can apply to more than one inventory record and each profile can have different attributes. I’ll cover these later on in this article, but for now the easiest way of explaining what a Channel Profile does is by using  an example.

Let’s say we have 10 of the same mugs in stock and we wish to sell them on:

  • One eBay account
  • Amazon
  • Our website.

For maximum market exposure, we’re going to use the channel profile to list ALL 10 of these mugs onto eBay, Amazon and also show them on our website too. A couple of hours later, a customer called Jane buys one from eBay.

We now only have 9 in stock and the channel profile will now update Amazon to 9 and the website also to 9. Then another customer, Jim buys from the website. Again the channel profile will update the other marketplaces, eBay & Amazon with the new stock level of 8.

The next morning a new delivery of these mugs arrive and we have 10 more, so we now have a stock level of 18 mugs. The Channel profile will now update each of the selling channels where the products are listed with the updated stock level.

In this basic example, we gain maximum market exposure for our products and keep each of the selling channels in-line with the latest stock levels. Neat eh?

The Negatives of Using A Channel Profile

I’m going to note here the negatives you might have already realised are minor in comparison to the positives of exposing your inventory across as many channels as possible. However you need to be aware of them.

In theory if you only have 10 in stock, then you only have 10 to sell. By exposing your inventory across just 3 platforms in the example above, you are actually exposing 30 items and again in theory if they all sold at the same time, you could go to a negative inventory count of 20 (that’s the 30 sold, minus the 10 you had in stock).

The Channel Profiler is a process that runs on eSellerPro’s servers and it does not update the marketplaces instantaneously, there is a time lag on eSellerPro’s side and with the marketplaces themselves. While I now don’t know the exact figures, a period of about 30 minutes would be about right for each passing of an eSellerPro account to make updates to the 3rd party platforms.

We also need to understand that eSellerPro is a 3rd party to the marketplaces and as such there are time delays in the communication to them. Again referencing the earlier example, the orders from eBay & Amazon are not picked up instantaneously, they’re scheduled. Plus we also need to account for time delays in the marketplaces themselves, Amazon orders are not immediate, they tend to sit for 15-30 minutes before being released and also you can only ask for order reports every 30 minutes or so.

So it’s perfectly possible for Jane and Jim to buy on two different marketplaces within a time window of say 10 minutes and eSellerPro is not capable of updating the other channel to let it know there is a deduction of the inventory level, if there was only one left, this could have caused an oversell or back order. Hardly ideal.

It should also be noted that in relation to eBay, eBay auctions and BIN listings of 10 days or less, are regarded as being committed to the eBay marketplaces, thus if you have 10 in stock and 2 of those are in two auctions, then eSellerPro sees an available stock count of 8 and will use this value to keep the platforms updated.

Note: You can use the true stock level of 10 called “Percentage of On-Hand”, however this is where you’re most likely to be caught out, as using this option I strongly advise you never to use this option (although there are situations where it does not matter, such as virtual or limitless stock).

Channel Profile Tolerances

The channel profile process also has “tolerances”, for items over a stock count of 20, there is no compelling reason to keep the selling platforms updated with the latest stock count for each change.

If we had 10,000 of those mugs in stock, then updating them every time we sold one would be silly and slow down the really important updates for other stock items which have much left. As such eSellerPro has different tolerances for different stock levels and they can be found in their Wiki.

A Simple Example of a Channel Profile

A really simple example of a channel profile is the first example, where we were listing all 10 of the mugs on the 3 platforms. In this example we are committing 100% of  the “Available stock” (10) to each of the channels.

An Advanced Example of a Channel Profile

There is likely to be situations where you don’t want to commit all your stock to all of the channels all of the time and this is where the ability to create multiple profiles comes in really handy.

For the first example, we would have named the channel profile something like “List 100% to eBay, Amazon and Our Website” (naming the profiles to what they do is again strongly suggested, it makes them “Matt proof”).

For this second example, we’re going to want to keep two of mugs in stock at all times, this is because they’re end of line and we want to keep safe just in case we get a return of breakage.

Similar to the previous example, we’re going to commit 100% of the “Available Stock” to platforms, but we’re going to add a number 2 to the column called “Min. Qty Avail”. By setting a value of 2 in this column, we’re saying list 100% of our stock, but when we get to our last 2, take them off all the platforms.

We could of course just set this value of 2, to just one platform, so that when we get to our last 2 items, we take it off Amazon, but leave the 2 on eBay and the website. I did say that this was ‘neat’ :)

Further Examples

The abilities of the channel profile doesn’t stop at just listing 100% of items onto marketplaces and keeping their stock levels in-tow and basic stock control. You can also configure a channel profile to use these cool features:

  • Percentage based listing, not just 100%, maybe only 50% to eBay and 100% to Amazon & the website.
  • Force set inventory levels onto one or more marketplaces, that never go out of stock
  • Force set inventory levels onto one or more marketplaces that are removed when the available quantity drops below a specific level
  • Using a “Cost Formula”, dynamically calculable your selling prices for each channel and also the minimum and maximum prices for Amazon & accounts.
  • Cap the number of listed items on a platform to a maximum number
  • And there are some funky things you can do with sequences and stocked sub skus of products that 99.9% of the people reading this wouldn’t ever use.

It should also be noted that if you have the WebXML interface enabled for up to 10 external channels, the channel profile can also apply inventory update rules to these too and via the new eSellerPro API, the status of the SKU can be checked to see if its been set to list on several of the ‘channels’ in the channel profile.

My eSellerPro Channel Profile Tips

Here are a collection of tips that you may find useful:

  1. Never edit the default profile
    Think of this profile as a off switch, keep it set to manual and use this profile to take items off all the platforms and for new records that are not ready to be listed yet.
  2. Keep calculations to a minimum
    The more you ask for a channel profile to do, the long it will take and the slower it will run. Where ever possible, keep calculations for prices to external tools lke excel or PHP before entering into eSellerPro.
  3. Never use product specific channel profiles
    If you create product specific channel profiles, you’re missing one of the huge benefits of eSellerPro ‘profiles’. If you do have an exception product that needs its own rules, just create another profile and name it accordingly. Then ALL your profiles are in one place and easy to administer.
  4. Name the channel profiles sensibly
    If the profile is listing 100% to eBay, Amazon and the Website, name it that. In the bulk update tool, in the inventory record and in the import/export system you only see the names of the profile, thus name them clearly in relation to what they actually do.
  5. Think through each channel profile thoroughly before creating it
    Take a few moments to write down what you want the profile to do, then once written, use this to guide you to the configuration of the profile.
  6. Use ‘Bulk Update’
    You can use the bulk update tool to update as many records as you would like, remember that naming them clearly will make this task a cinch.
  7. Import/Export with care
    Don’t forget you can import a channel profile name as part of the custom import/export sheets. But use this with care, as you can enable products to be listed from an import sheet, this may not be desired straight away and may cause other issues, especially if you are loading new products and images need to be collected from a 3rd party before listing, the listing may go live and be incomplete!

The Channel Profile Summary

Using a channel profile is not without its risks, as you can in theory oversell heavily if the products which have been assigned a channel profile are in ultra high demand, accounting for the lags of the platforms themselves and giving eSellerPro enough time to react (although in reality this is quite rare, I can only remember of two instances in 3 years of this happening).

Sensible configuration of your channel profiles for different velocity products is key and also keeping them as straight forward and aptly named is strongly advised.

The examples in this article are quite basic, however if you consider you may have thousands of inventory records, numerous eBay accounts more than one Amazon Seller Central account (yes this is possible), multiple websites and maybe 3rd part integrations to other selling platforms, being able to expose your entire inventory across ALL possible channels and keep them updated when items sell and stock deliveries are made, makes the “Channel Profiles” in eSellerPro one of the core parts of the entire system.

Try doing all that manually. You’ll have no hair left like me!

Your Feedback

Do you use the Channel Profile in your eSellerPro account, is this something you could or couldn’t live without? Let me know in the comments box below.

What is eSellerPro & How it Can Help Your Business?

So what is eSellerPro and how can it help your business? To answer these questions effectively, I’ve put together a 3 minute video overview where I discuss the following:

  • The 3 core parts of eSellerPro, these being:
    • Inventory data & stock management
    • Order aggregation
    • The “Channel Profile” to keep the sales channels up to date
  • Suitable business types

Answered in a 3 Minute Video

Before you watch this video it’s important to note that I am a former employee of eSellerPro, clients that I work with use eSellerPro for all or parts of their businesses.

I’m not a sales rep nor do I receive any incentive from eSellerPro to publish this content. I certainly do not believe that eSellerPro is perfect, no solution provider is. What I am motivated to do, is to ensure that you choose the right back-end tool for your business and eSellerPro “could” be one that is most suitable to you.

Your Feedback

I haven’t covered the 3 core elements to eSellerPro in any great detail, the video was only designed to give you a brief overview of what these are and how they could help your business. However, these will follow in the next few days.

However did you find this video useful? Have you or are you using eSellerPro to run part or all of your business? Let me know in the comments box below.

What is an Amazon Product Detail Page?

Hola! In this article, I introduce you to the Amazon product detail pages and the different variations of the detail page for products on

If you’ve never sold on Amazon, are looking to do so or are already a seller central merchant, then taking a few minutes to watch the video in this article will help you and your staff understand what an Amazon detail page looks like and the variations that they come in. Because they’re not all the same as I show!

The Amazon Product Detail Page

The product detail pages on Amazon can and do change between product types. In the video below, I take you through some of the common components found on an Amazon product detail page such as:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • User-contributed content
  • A Product Title
  • Variations if present (Size, Colour and Size & Colour)
  • Pricing information
  • The ‘blue buy box’
  • Frequently bought items
  • What do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item
  • Product specifications
  • Technical details
  • Product details
  • Product description
  • Customer reviews
  • Tags & several other elements

While not an exhaustive list as Amazon just like their product detail pages, do change the layouts from time to time,.

Anatomy of an Amazon Product Detail Page – Part 1

This video is part 1 of a multi-part video series that covers the anatomy of an Amazon product detail page from the basics in this article, to show how the inventory data you create, rules, options etc.. can impact what is shown on the detail pages for products you create on Amazon.

Reference Links

In this video, I show several pages on, you’ll find visiting these for yourself very useful (as I have sped through some parts of them on the video) and I’ve included direct links to them below:


You now have a great founding in what Amazon product detail pages look like, the variations of them and the common components that you’ll find on them. This is crucial if you’re intending to sell on products on Amazon and also if you are already selling on Amazon as I’ve come across businesses in the past that didn’t know that you could list products with variations on this marketplace.

As I’ve shown in each of the product detail pages, there are several key sections that when creating your inventory for sale on Amazon, then you need to be fully aware of these sections. It can be tempting to skip sections and not know what the repercussions of missing them out are or what the sections in the import sheets actually mean in the first place.

If you’re thinking about selling on Amazon or already are and would like to know more, then checkout the Amazon category here, as I will be adding the following stages to the article over the next few weeks.

Like this video & Article? Let me know by either leaving a comment below!

Have You Received a Price Parity Policy Warning from Amazon?

Amazon LogoHave you received a “Your Amazon Seller Account: Policy Warning” that details two products that have the pricing issues when compared from your Amazon selling account to your website? If so read on and if you haven’t yet, it appears Amazon is doing the rounds.

Update: You’ll also want to check this article out as Amazon are now notifying businesses that are falling behind on their response times Amazon Policy Warning For Buyer-Seller Contact Response Times.

I’ve seen this a couple of times so far this year already (and several times last year too) and after the concerned email yesterday, its about time I cover this in more detail. We all know that price parity across all sales channels is ni-on impossible and I’ve included some practical advice at the end of this article on how to tackle this issue.

I’m sure 99% of you are not well versed in actual agreement that was agreed to when you first started selling on Amazon and in my breakdown the price parity that Amazon expects isn’t going to be pleasant reading, hence the inclusion of some suggestions.

The Amazon Price Parity Policy Warning

There are numerous policy warnings you can receive as a seller on Amazon (frankly none of these are good) and this article is focused towards the price parity warning titled “Your Amazon Seller Account: Policy Warning” that is being sent out by Amazon to sellers ‘Performance Notifications’ section of your seller central account.

An Example Policy Notification

I’ve stripped the product details from this notification to ensure the sellers details remain anonymous, however I will be including ‘example’ prices as we’ll need these later in the article.

Amazon Policy Warning Price Parity Email

An example of an Amazon Policy Warning Price Parity Notification

Its also worth noting that for two of the notifications I’ve seen so far, Amazon have quoted prices from Amazon Webstores, which is there website offering so this doesn’t just apply to sellers using 3rd party websites, this also applies to sellers using Amazon’s own website product too.

The text version of this notification is below and I’ve highlighted several sections in bold as we’ll be looking at these later in conjunction with the Amazon agreement.

Greetings from Amazon,

We are writing because it has come to our attention that some of listings may be in violation of our policy concerning price parity. Customers trust that they’ll find consistently low prices and other favourable terms on Amazon. To help preserve this trust, we generally require that sellers who choose to sell products on Amazon not charge customers higher prices on Amazon than they charge elsewhere. For products you fulfill, this typically means that both the item price and total price you charge customers for a product on Amazon must be generally at least as favourable as the item price and total price you charge customers on other sales channels.

– The “item price” of a product generally means the price of the product itself.
– The “total price” of a product generally means the total amount payable by a customer for that product, including discounts, rebates, promotions and shipping.

It has come to our attention that some of your listings do not abide by this policy. Example listings are provided below. Please review all of your listings to ensure they abide by this policy.

For more information, please refer to Section S-4 (“Parity with your Sales Channels”) of the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement, available in the Policies and Agreements section of seller Help.

We appreciate your cooperation and thank you for selling on Amazon.

Seller Performance Team

Example listings:
Example ASIN: < ASIN 1 >
ASIN Title: < Product Title 1 >
Date: < Date > (London, UK)
Total price on £65.19
Total price on <Website>: £59.49

Example ASIN: < ASIN 2 >
ASIN Title: < Product Title 2 >
Date: < Date > (London, UK)
Total price on £10.96
Total price on <Website>: £8.99

Understanding the Warning

So lets cut the crap here and understand that Amazon want you to have your products listed on Amazon at the best prices possible, including their commission of sale and this is their way of pointing out that on some of your products that there is a difference and they don’t like that.

So picking up on the two points from the Amazon notification email:

– The “item price” of a product generally means the price of the product itself.
– The “total price” of a product generally means the total amount payable by a customer for that product, including discounts, rebates, promotions and shipping.

They’re not holding back here and want to factor in all the factors to the total price “including discounts, rebates, promotions and shipping” (which is part of the agreement I cover in a few moments), so if you’re running say an email marketing campaign with a special promotional code, according to Amazon, you should adjust your prices to match this offer (more on this later).

Its also interesting that they’re quoting the “Amazon Services Europe Business Solutions Agreement” in the notification and explicitly the section S-4. The full agreement can be found on the Amazon website here.

I have included an extract below (correct at 29 Jan 2011) of the policy section S-4 and this is in bold and my own comments are in the quote bubbles.

S-4. Parity with Your Sales Channels

Subject to this Section S-4, you are free to determine which of Your Products you wish to list for sale on a particular Amazon Site.

So you’re able to choose which products you list on Amazon and which products you don’t. (That’s nice)

You will maintain parity between the products you offer through Your Sales Channels and the products you list on the a particular Amazon Site by ensuring that at the applicable Selling on Amazon Launch Date and thereafter:

(a) the Purchase Price and every other term of offer and/or sale of Your Product (including associated shipping and handling charges, Shipment Information, any “low price” guarantee, rebate or discount, any free or discounted products or other benefit available as a result of purchasing one or more other products, and terms of applicable return and refund policies listed on such Amazon Site) is at least as favourable to users of such Amazon Site as the most favourable terms upon which a product is offered and/or sold via Your Sales Channels (excluding consideration of Excluded Offers);

The selling price for your products must be at-par or more favourable to Amazon buyers when compared to your other selling channels.

(b) customer service for Your Products listed on such Amazon Site is at least as responsive and available and offers at least the same level of support as the most favourable customer services offered in connection with any of Your Sales Channels (provided that any such customer service will at all times be conducted in a timely, professional and courteous manner) (this requirement does not apply to customer service for payment-related issues on Your Transactions, which we will provide); and

Customer service should be uniform across the channels. That’s an assumed factor.

(c) the Content, product information and other information under Section S-1.1 regarding Your Products listed on such Amazon Site that you provide to us is of at least the same level of quality as the highest quality information displayed or used in Your Sales Channels. If you become aware of any non-compliance with (a) above, you will promptly compensate adversely affected customers by making appropriate refunds to them in accordance with Section S-2.2.

Read this section twice. That’s right, if there is a price difference between your sales channels and your Amazon sell price for a completed purchase is less favourable to an Amazon customer, then you are expected to compensate ‘adversely affected’ customers.

From my notes later in this article, it appears that this threshold of ‘adversely affected’ is a 9% or greater difference between Amazon and your other sales channels.

For Amazon-Fulfilled Products, we acknowledge that if the shipping and handling charges associated with the sale and delivery of any of Your Products listed for sale on such Amazon Site are included in (and not separately stated) the purchase price listed for Your Product on such Amazon Site (collectively a “Shipping Inclusive Purchase Price”), then the parity obligation in (a) above will be satisfied if the Shipping Inclusive Purchase Price and each other term of offer and/or sale for the product on the particular Amazon Site are at least as favourable to users of such Amazon Site as the purchase price and each other term of offer and/or sale for the product (including any and all separately stated shipping and handling charges) pursuant to which the product is offered and/or sold via any of your sales channels other than the particular Amazon Site.

FBA is a special case and they’re acknowledging that there are other costs associated for sellers for this method, but is still to be factored in when it comes the first part (a) for price parity.

Where Did Amazon Obtain the Prices From?

Please understand that because almost all of the notifications I’ve seen have come from different website products, then someone from Amazon has quite likely been through your website manually to check these prices. Also from the emails I have copies of, two use the Amazon Webstore product. Even if you use this to run your website selling activities, you’re not immune.

Note: Amazon could of course used ‘Google Shopping’ to check the prices. But because of one of the prices quoted in one of the notifications, I don’t believe this is the case or if they are, they’re manually verifying on the sites.

While a date stamp is included, no time is included. Which is a shame as we would been able to pin-point exactly the source of the user agent used to check the prices on the external website, but is also a point we shouldn’t overlook as, its an exclusion that can be used as a battering point because most businesses use repricing software for the channels and it could be easy to argue that between software updates, that the prices are likely to be out-of-sync with each other across the sales channels.

The Threshold for ‘Adversely Affected’ Prices

This is a curious one, as what actually constitutes as ‘adversly affected customer’? This is where having a unique view across different businesses comes in really handy.

I’ve looked through the notifications, taken note of the percentage differences between the Amazon price and the website selling prices and there seems to be a correlation between them.

Using the Amazon 15% commission range as a common key across the notifications, in all the examples I have, the selling price difference is 9% or higher between the price being stated that was on Amazon and the price being stated.

To be fair to Amazon, in pretty much all cases the selling price difference was a lot higher than 9% more on Amazon compared to the businesses website and on several of them, the prices had a difference of over 30%. So if you’re asking yourself is this warning warranted, it probably is!

Reality Check

I personally see the policy warning as a poke from Amazon to say:

“hey you’re prices are out, can you keep them in-line with us please”

While I understand why Amazon would like to ensure that their prices are the most competitive for their customers, even in their own agreement they’re using terminology that allows for some lea-way in the pricing between selling channels such ‘adversely affected’ and the term ‘generally’ is used twice in the notification itself.

It appears that this definition of ‘generally’ is in the region of a 9% or greater price difference between Amazon and another sales channel and as per my comment earlier, in the cases I’ve seen so far, the examples given were a lot higher than just 9%, with several over 30% and looking at a per SKU level, maybe the pricing is out and the warning was founded.

I’ve not seen (as of yet) Amazon do a re-run of a price parity check on accounts, however if they were to, I’m sure if you or Amazon dig deep enough into any business that is using more than one sales channel that you’ll find a difference in prices.

Whether Amazon actually take this further than my interpretation of it being a reminder to “play fair”, only Amazon know. As such, I’ve put together some suggestions that you should find useful, no matter what your account size or back-end software:

  • Use the Amazon selling price as the website price
    Now before you scream “NO WAY!” at this as you’re likely to command a better price on the website than on Amazon, remember the reach that Amazon has to potential customers and even if you do your best to keep within say a 9% window of price differentiation, Amazon is most likely a far larger sales channel than your website, probably for eternity.
  • Export & Cross compare Prices in Excel
    As the likely hood is that there are you’re using a variety of different software platforms to run your websites from I’ve not included an excel example, however the process is really straight-forwards, IF you have used the same merchant SKU over your channels or another key that allows you to cross compare your inventory from different channels.An example would be to use eBay File Exchange to export your eBay listings, an Amazon ‘Inventory Report’ export from the “Download Inventory File” section in Seller Central and also an export from your website. Then using the VLOOKUP function in excel (see this link on YouTube for examples) to cross compare prices and run as a percentage in a column extra.
  • Repricing Software
    With almost all decent repricing software for Amazon, you are able to set an ideal selling price, a minimum and also a maximum too (if it doesn’t Google ‘channel max). Ensure that these are taking into account your website prices, so that you try and keep within the 9% window or maybe… work the prices backwards to your website.
  • Percentages!
    Its really easy for anyone (like Amazon or a customer) to point the finger and say “well for that SKU the price is different”. What I would suggest as a practical measure is that you point out to Amazon (probably not best done to a customer though) is that if you cross compare the prices globally across you selling channels (using the tip above) that “on average” the selling price differences between the channels are within X window and that if they look at individual cases, then they’ll always find fault. But as a overall picture it should be relatively easy to prove that you do keep your prices in-two with Amazon’s expectations

Your Feedback

And finally:

  • Have you received this notification too? 
  • Have you spoken to Amazon support regarding this, what was their reaction?
  • Did you make any changes to your pricing? 

Let me know in the comments box below.