So you’ve been selling on eBay for years now. You’ve learnt the ins, and you’ve learnt the outs. You’ve had some big ups and plenty of big downs, and you can now confidently say you are an ‘experience eBay Power Seller’, a master of the eBay arts, an online marketplace guru.
After deciding it’s time to turn your attention to Amazon, you are instantly frustrated by the experience – “I’ve been selling on eBay for years, so why am I having so much trouble just getting started on Amazon?”.
It happens all the time, eBay sellers underestimate just how different the two marketplaces are, become discouraged and frustrated and ultimately abandon their Amazon aspirations for eBay’s more familiar waters.
That’s why we’ve put together this little guide, to help sellers familiar with eBay to make sense of the very different world of Amazon selling.
#1 Amazon is all about the customers
eBay as a marketplace was originally very focused on the seller as much as the buyer. eBay is a place where buyers come to connect with sellers. Amazon is a place where buyers come to connect with products. There is an important distinction.
On eBay, as a seller, you have your eBay store and you create your own, highly customisable listings for your products. For any one product, there may be hundreds of different sellers, each with their own listings, with their own photos and description. As a seller, you essentially “own” your product listing, and control everything about it (as long as you stay within eBay’s rules).
Amazon is completely different. An Amazon listing belongs entirely to Amazon from the moment it is created. If you’re selling the same product as 100 other sellers, you will all be sharing the same listing.
If you are selling a product that has never before been on Amazon, you can create a listing, but as soon as you do anyone that want’s to sell that product will do so from your listing.
The photos, description, titles can be added by you at the time of creating a listing, but at the end of the day Amazon has final say. If you are selling your own, unique branded product, you can become brand registered which gives you a certain level of control over the listing, but it doesn’t give you exclusivity over the listing, and it only stops other sellers from changing things like titles and descriptions – not Amazon.
#2 We need to talk about ASINs
The process of ‘creating a listing’ on Amazon will see you fall into one of two camps. If you’re product is new to Amazon’s catalogue, then you will create an entirely new listing.
In order to do this, you need to provide Amazon with images, product details and a valid product identifier in the form of a GTIN (a UPC or EAN number).
You’re product will then be assigned a unique ASIN by Amazon – a 10 digit alphanumeric code that is attached to that product in Amazon’s catalog.
If you’re selling a product that is already on Amazon, it will already have an ASIN and a listing. To sell it that product you will have to find the existing listing or ASIN on Amazon and create an offer; you notify Amazon that you also wish to sell that product and provide a price, condition (new or used) and your method of fulfilment.
For sellers accustomed to eBay this can be frustrating, as it provides little opportunity to differentiate your offering other than your pricing.
From the customers perspective, shopping on Amazon has the advantage of being able to find all the available sellers of an individual product on the one listing with their pricing and fulfilment options shown.
#3 Buy Box Competition
If you are selling branded products that are not unique to you (for example Nike brand shoes, Lego toys or Samsung’s phones) then you will be used to competing against other sellers of the same items.
On eBay, you do this by having well optimised listings, good images, good feedback scores, competitive prices and fast & affordable shipping. You may even have an eBay storefront which looks great, has a range of great products and shows that you are a reliable, well-reviewed seller.
When selling on Amazon, all of the sellers of a product can be found on the same listing, but obviously only one seller can be featured by the ‘add-to-cart’ button. This is what is referred to as the ‘Buy Box’, and it is generally awarded to the Amazon seller with the lowest price, and best fulfilment (almost always and FBA seller – more on that later).
There are other criteria for winning the Buy Box, including seller history
With the single listing, many sellers model of Amazon, almost all of the sales go to the sellers who most often win the Buy Box. By comparison, eBay sales of a product sold by multiple sellers will be more evenly distributed.
On eBay, a customer may look at several different listings and choose yours because you have a good feedback rating and provide fast delivery. On Amazon, the customer will almost always just go for the seller that is winning the Buy Box.
In most cases, this will be an FBA sellers.
#4 FBA and FBM
Amazon has two fulfilment options available to third-party sellers. FBA – Fulfilment by Amazon, and FBM – Fulfilment by Merchant.
FBM is what eBay sellers are used to. eBay doesn’t offer logistics services as part of their marketplaces – eBay sellers take the orders and fulfil them themselves. On Amazon, this is an option called Fulfilled by Merchant.
For most customers, FBA is their preference. FBA – Fulfilment by Amazon, means that a seller has sent their inventory to Amazon who (for a fee) hold it in their distribution centres until it is sold, and then delivers it to the customer. It is covered by Amazon’s service guarantees, falls within their strict delivery time frames and offers free shipping for Amazon Prime members.
It is generally seen as far more safe and reliable than merchant fulfilment, and is therefore the preferred fulfilment method of both the customer and Amazon themselves. Sellers using FBA are also given preference when competing for the Buy Box.
The existence of FBA takes the uncertainty and risk out of shopping on Amazon; the experience of paying for the product, receiving it and even returning it is exactly the same for all FBA products.
This means customers are far less likely to be interested in reviews and ratings for individual sellers – only for the product themselves. Unlike eBay where a good Feedback Score can help you compete against other sellers, on Amazon it’s far less of a concern for customers.
For smaller sellers with limited capacity for fulfilment, Amazon’s FBA does represent a great opportunity to expand your addressable market by selling into other countries without the need to invest in expensive distribution centres and setting up logistics. A seller in the US could just as easily send a few products in to FBA for amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom) or amazon.de (Germany) and become an international seller overnight.
Sure you can also sell across borders with eBay and fulfil from your hometown, but customers rarely opt for products being shipped internationally when they have a domestic option available.
#5 eBay is going the way of Amazon
If all of this Buy Box and single listing per product stuff isn’t sitting well with your business model, unfortunately you can’t avoid it by simply staying off Amazon.
eBay have already started implementing changes which will see the marketplace move toward Amazon’s customer focused, catalog based model. They have already started trialling their own ‘Buy Box’ and you may have already noticed the option to ‘Group Similar Listings’ in search results.
If you’re an eBay seller making the switch to Amazon, join the conversation at our Facebook Mastermind Group, share your stories and learn from other sellers who have been in your shoes.