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.

But….

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.

62 replies
  1. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Sell a few thousand lines on the Amazon’s – but only selected items on eBay as dislike the site so only do it manually so far.

    In proportion, may get more lost items on eBay but no idea in comparison. All I know is if an item is being sent to Italy – you’ve got a roughly one in three chance of the customer reporting it as lost.

    Still, it’s better than having lost an entire mailbag of orders (happened twice) once to France and once to Germany – the Germany mailbag was actually sent to Malmo, Sweden. Always useful that.

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Jamie,

      One word “Ouch”!

      Italy is an odd country, I know you’ve had issues getting products there, others seem to find it OK, courier has a lot to do with that though I’m sure!

      Matt

      Reply
  2. Scott Sullivan
    Scott Sullivan says:

    The way I normally look at it is that most people have a higher price on Amazon items hence the minimal loss. Also Amazon have made steps to further reduce their postal loses with FBA.

    Reply
  3. Misae
    Misae says:

    I second this. eBay generates higher rates of loss than Amazon which also generates higher rates of loss than our own site. But I also have another related thread that’s worth observing too. In my experience if you don’t offer free returns or at least a local returns address in the USA, the percentage of customers contacting you who say your item was damaged on arrival is far higher than any other country in the world, especially with Amazon orders, something which hardly ever happened with the same items on the same shipping ordered via our own sites or eBay. I think DoAs by country/channel/buyer are also worth keeping an eye on as there are trends in that data which help you better understand the culture of each marketplace.

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Misae,

      That’s a curious observation.

      I would have thought including the free returns for a different reason, to build confidence in purchasing the product in the first place, maybe this is a by-product of that, which I had not considered?

      Matt

      Reply
      • Julius Oliveti
        Julius Oliveti says:

        Your barcode seems perfect Matt. It would be interesting to see how many people implement it and how they get along with lost items.

      • Misae
        Misae says:

        Howdy Matt,

        Yes, I guess there are huge differences in culture and perception country to country. For instance the French seldom seem to do returns but are prone to blowing up on feedback. The Germans are the reverse; they’ll over order and return everything but the one they want and very seldom say anything negative. You can have the same service offering in different countries and maybe people will interpret and use it differently?

        As for free returns, I like them but just like the internet being free I suspect we’re all paying for it somewhere somehow?

        Misae

  4. Jon Dickenson
    Jon Dickenson says:

    Really enjoyed the article. I thought it was just me! I can’t do enough for genuine customers, it’s the ones that you know from the start are kidding you along that kill you.
    I’ve been an eBay seller almost entirely, but perhaps I should look to other platforms.

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hola Jon,

      Oh indeed, can drive one nuts.

      It’s the one nutcase that ruins the day when there are easily countless happy punters.

      I don’t know what you sell, but Amazon is a no-brainer, try searching for one of your items in the top search box and see if anything matches, just eBay takes a while, but can be exceptionally productive.

      If you have any questions, pop them in the forums here http://lastdropofink.co.uk/forum/ :)

      Matt

      Matt

      Reply
    • Mr B :)
      Mr B :) says:

      Hi Jon,
      OK I confess I am also known as Mr B:) lol
      Rather ironically it was the sheer desperation of feeling alone combined with having no choice but to block Italy globally even though I know I have many genuine repeat customers that led me to contact Matt .
      Also its very refreshing to find such a positive group of contributors I’m definitely grateful to you all and hope that at some point I am a customer.

      Reply
      • Proetus
        Proetus says:

        Sorry i’m still new to blogging well replying atleast Proetus is my gaming name and now also my blogging name :)

        AKA Andy :)

  5. Fishing Geek
    Fishing Geek says:

    This subject infuriates me so much. We sell fishing tackle on most of the major channels and eBay is by far and away the worse.

    We keep records of who has reportedly had lost post, last month we had a chancer that said that his order had been lost. I recognised his eBay userid and checked our records. Almost to the day a year ago he had purchased a similar order and it had gone missing. I checked his feedback and look through and found that he had reported missing items with other eBay sellers. I told him in no uncertain words that I didn’t want to risk sending another package to his address, and explained about last year. No more comms from him!

    He has been blocked but there are definitely others out there.

    We have no support from eBay regarding this problem

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy,

      Almost a perfect fishing season length for him then, nicely done!

      I can understand why you’re frustrated, there are literally no defences left now. There is a wicked suggestion for adding a barcode to the despatched label as ‘suggested’ tracking and also the option of upgraded delivery, but the latter only suits a higher ASP (average selling price) product set.

      Thank you for the comment btw :)

      Matt

      Reply
      • Fishing Geek
        Fishing Geek says:

        That is the problem our ASP on most items is less than £10, and the marketplace is so crowded that we have to remain competitive, so tracking isn’t really viable.

        I like the idea of adding a barcode onto our integrated label template. Even if it prevents one less scam, then it is worth the additional ink per package! :)

      • Matthew Ogborne
        Matthew Ogborne says:

        Howdy,

        Yep, I just looked and your ASP is too low to warrant Tracked, at least you have the option for upgrades though :0

        If you check two or so comments up, there is an example I just popped together and attached a PSD file for it too.

        Try it out and let us know what the effect is :)

        Matt

  6. Julius Oliveti
    Julius Oliveti says:

    Since April we have been putting a dummy barcode with tracking reference underneath on all our mail labels. Our ‘lost items’ have dropped about 75%.

    Reply
    • choice.dvd
      choice.dvd says:

      That is a genius idea. Would you be so kind to share where you get the dummy barcodes & tracking from or supply a printable template that you use to print the barcodes?

      Anything to help fellow ecommerce folk! is always hugely appreciated :-)

      Reply
      • Mr B :)
        Mr B :) says:

        I whole heartedly agree and your figures don’t surprise me as many supposedly not received customers do seem to find their parcels after I send out a standard reply insinuating that I will make a lost parcel claim if not at sorting office. It just astounds me that this seems to only be an eBay phenomenon.

      • choice.dvd
        choice.dvd says:

        Thanks Julius, Will start using them this week once I get them printed.

        Have you ever had any issues from Royal Mail about the use of these barcodes on mail they deliver?

      • Julius Oliveti
        Julius Oliveti says:

        Hi Matt,

        It was actually my Royal Mail Account Manager who suggested it. I thought it was worth trying. I do know from dealings with a customer of mine who is also a seller they implemented the same dummy barcode system in February and had similar results. It may not work for all but if it save us money it’s worthwhile.
        Here is the link for the barcode.

        http://www.mediafire.com/?5i4j265wxj87e2l

        It can be cut down if too high. I also put ‘Tracking reference’ underneath mine.

        Julius

      • choice.dvd
        choice.dvd says:

        What do you think the printing and labels will cost to do this? I just wondered how much it will work out at per label. Say if every 1 in 100 go missing then at 5p per label that would be £5 so if the average cost for a lost item was below £5 then it wouldn’t be worth doing (obviously these are example figures to keep my math easy lol.).

        I was just wondering if the cost per label would outweigh the financial loss caused by loss of items.?

      • Matthew Ogborne
        Matthew Ogborne says:

        Howdy,

        You have a good point, but the amount of ink required to do that would be minimal, as I’m suggesting you include it in your current despatch label/paperwork, so the cost is in the realms of 0.0001 of a pence.

        Although a separate label would more effective.

        Matt

  7. john mclaren
    john mclaren says:

    Yep we have had this same issue, eBay stuff going missing a lot, so have moved to all eBay items being sent Royal Mail tracked and have had NO items going missing since.

    Reply
  8. choice.dvd
    choice.dvd says:

    My numbers are similar to Mr B’s. This past week I’ve had 1 buyer on ebay who has purchased 100+ items in the past 30 days. Upon further investigation and contact with other buyers that sold to this buyer, it appears the buyer is claimin non delivery from every single one of us. They livein Australia and I sent them 2 items which were both sent seperately and they said niether arrived. The total claims they are getting refunds for equates to thousands of pounds. I’ve reported them to ebay numerous times asto have other selelrs and nothing has been done about it. The buyer has been threatening me with 2 negative feedbacks if I don’t refund them despite them knowing that I know they’ve claimed for 100+ items in the past 30 days alone. I asked ebay what they would do to protect me as a seller from this scam buyer and their reply was a load of waffle which basically said they couldn’t protect me and that if the buyer left negative feedback they wouldn’t remove it. I’ll happily post the buyer ebay name if you want it named and shamed or if any sellers want to add this buyer to their block bidder lists.

    I don’t know what could be done to stop these punks as the numbers of scam buyers are on the increase for sure ( I think it’s scam sellers converting to scam buying as ebay have tightened the reigns on selling.), but Mr B’s idea would certainly be a welcome addition.

    Reply
    • Mr B :)
      Mr B :) says:

      Broadly speaking I agree with eBay’s policy for sellers not to leave negative feedback if you really wanted to start a crusade a follow up comment, a false positive like “apologies for the lost parcel replacement sent” speaks volumes, my fear here is that you might start a feedback snowball

      Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hola,

      I have to agree with you, it would make sense to move where the least amount of friction is and if selling is causing too much, then as you suggest buying is a viable alternative.

      Bummer to hear about that buyer, we are talking about the minority here and that one is way out on the extreme (I hope!!!!). No need to name/shame, with a large number of cases, it should be pretty easy to identify them and part of trust and safety does cover sellers ;)

      Matt

      Reply
      • choice.dvd
        choice.dvd says:

        I wish I had a solicitor “friend” who could just do me a template letter for defamatory feedback. That would be amazing. I think there has to be a court summons as well for it to be removed.?

  9. Nigel Thain
    Nigel Thain says:

    I dont get many INR’s BUT when I do, 9 times out of 10, the address is a Flat, and the item wouldnt have fitted through the post box.
    Is the postman just leaving outside the door ?
    I know for a fact that they dont always leave a card.

    Reply
    • Mr B :)
      Mr B :) says:

      I hate to generalise but arn’t flats where a dispraportionate amount of habital INR’s generated? I think 75% of the british public are aware that their postie sometimes forgets to leave a card now lol

      Reply
  10. David
    David says:

    Hi Matt

    My first comment so be nice, I normally lurk.

    We have been recording customer support issues for the past 4 months since I brought in a dedicated CS manager. She has kept a log of the reasons why customers are contacting us, a number of other attributes and also for your article, where orders are being lost.

    My team despatch around 11,000 orders per month across multiple sales channels, Ebay, Amazon, our website, print advertising, events etc. and as your ‘Mr B’ has found Amazon has a very low rate of lost packages, only our website has a slightly better rate. Where-as Ebay orders, I have always felt were the cause of a lot of wasted time in my business and now with the tracking we have, can prove it.

    Gill mentions below, RoyalMail tracked has been part of tackling the rate of defective orders from Ebay for lower order values. For the bulk of our larger orders, couriers tend to be good at not loosing packages, but they tend to have their own unique challenges.

    Tracked has helped, we tried recorded to begin with, but the label means nothing and we are trying to find the balance between cost and loss rate. Whatever we do it’s going to be a compromise and we are going to lose orders, as the CS says, its how we deal with them is what matters.

    We’ve seen a decrease in the lost order rate for Ebay since using tracked for specific items and changes around how we despatch and message customers, but it’s still exceptionally high when compared to the website & Amazon. I feel it is just a fact of selling on Ebay.

    I did not mean to type so much, but thank you for the reading Matt and at least we are not alone in fighting so called “lost orders”.

    As you say ‘Happy days’.

    David

    Reply
    • Mr B :)
      Mr B :) says:

      Thank you David for coming out of hiding and lending your support. I’m only a 1 man band and TBH have some sort of addiction to eBay over Amazon and so my biggest concern is the higher prices that I have to charge my eBay customers

      Reply
      • Matthew Ogborne
        Matthew Ogborne says:

        Howdy “Mr B”,

        Ta for the email :)

        Howdy David, welcome *waves*!

        I’d be curious what you changed around your despatch process, I’ve popped you an email over a few minutes ago.

        Matt

  11. John
    John says:

    I often think the lack of item not received on Amazon orders is because Amazon has already blocked buyers with a history of claims – don’t forget Amazon is a retailer too and feels the pain. No incentive for eBay to do anything. John

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hola John,

      I had not considered that approach, you’re most lightly correct too. Why as a retailer would Amazon continue to send items to a known address for high losses, makes perfect sense.

      I had a book go AWOL last year with HDN as the courier, Amazon resolved in a day or two with a refund and I re-bought the book the same day. That has to be easily traceable and prove it was a genuine loss?

      Matt

      Reply
  12. Gill McArdle
    Gill McArdle says:

    Following the recent (ridiculous) Royal Mail price increases, we have switched to their Tracked service. This covers 80% of our post, as it can only be used for UK mainland addresses. We can now track an item from leaving our premises, through the delivery network to our customer’s door. Those ‘Item Not Received’ messages are now dealt with very quickly – I can tell a customer where their parcel is – and I’ve had 2 instances where their parcel has actually been delivered. Needless to say I never heard anything back from those customers! But if we hadn’t used tracked, we’d more than likely have ended up sending a replacement at our expense.

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Gill,

      Ah of course, the majority of bespoke items would support tracked.

      A real happy medium between 1st class and special delivery, what do you use for lighter items and heaver items or do they pretty much all fall in the tracked weight band?

      Matt

      Reply
      • Gill McArdle
        Gill McArdle says:

        Only large letter size items are sent through 1st or 2nd class post now – it was a no-brainer switching to Tracked – through Royal Mail’s business account a recorded delivery 1st class parcel up to 750g now costs £3.45 to post whereas we can post up to 15kg through tracked for £2.95 + VAT. A better service in terms of knowing exactly where your parcels are in the delivery network for around the same price.

  13. Jason Hawkins
    Jason Hawkins says:

    Not sure on the exact % for eBay but Amazon for us is 0% loss, eBay is generally several per month, mostly the same products on both sites, and sent using the same carrier in general. Something that has always driven me mad.

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hola Jason,

      Quite similar to Mr B then then, the “odd” lost item on Amazon and far more frequent losses from eBay orders.

      Are the “lost items” typically occurring on the same delivery method?

      Matt

      Reply
      • Jason Hawkins
        Jason Hawkins says:

        Hey Matt.

        Yes I wuld say that the majority of lost items via eBay are the same postage method as those sent to Amazon customers. Although 95% are now sent using a tracked method, either courier or Royal Mail. There is a cost implication to this, but FAR outweighs the cost of “Lost” items sent. I am considering eBay being a courier or tracked only method, I would rather lose a few chancers than spend my time dealing with lost deliveries. Proof of delivery is a powerful tool.

    • Mr B :)
      Mr B :) says:

      Driven mad!! completely lol same items same level of service but radical difference in AWOL items. Thanks Matt great blog I hope eBay accept the gentle nudge as less postal fraud = lower prices for genuine honest customers

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] taken away from sellers some time ago.I covered one dynamic of this around the frequency of “lost orders” when comparing eBay & Amazon a week or so ago and the feedback in the comments […]

  2. @mikenelson281 So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on eBay Compared to Amazon? http://t.co/xR52nNzm

  3. How many orders are ‘lost’ on eBay compared to Amazon? http://t.co/ac2OX3Gn – curious question w/ Mr. B and @matthewogborne

  4. So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on #eBay Compared to #Amazon? http://t.co/NCA4VGFR <= Your feedback needed!

  5. @matthewogborne thanks Matt love the idea about dummy barcodes :) http://t.co/6FZxn3os

  6. @eBayRadio @matthewogborne Hi Griff I was wondering if you have similar issues in USA http://t.co/6FZxn3os

  7. So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on eBay Compared to Amazon? http://t.co/8DaIUwRy

  8. So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on eBay Compared to Amazon? http://t.co/xR52nNzm

  9. So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on eBay Compared to Amazon?: “Item Not Received” how I bet you love… http://t.co/1Va0kIxm @lastdropofink

  10. So How Many Orders Are “Lost” on #eBay Compared to #Amazon? http://t.co/NCA4VGFR <= Just Posted

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