Friday, January 25, 2008

Free Trial on the Amazon WebStore

Amazon has been trying to get traction with their WebStore product since it was announced last year. I've looked into the service and it certainly has some nice features but while I don't think their pricing is out of whack, I would certainly like to get more flexibility and benefit for that price. So here is my wish list.

I would jump at an Amazon WebStore if:
  • The $59.95 monthly fee included my Pro Merchant account so that my net fee increase would be $20 a month.
  • If I could get the same FBA fulfillment pricing as I currently get for my Amazon.com orders (My FBA items sold on Amazon.com get much better fulfillment pricing than orders from outside marketplaces or websites)
  • I would have no problem paying the 7% FVF if my Webstore items were available in my Amazon.com storefront.
  • I would also like to see a special offer for ClickRiver ads if they were directed to my Webstore.
  • Also, I would like to tie my BuybackDirect.com website to my Amazon Webstore so that I can expand my consumer "buy back" business. Just adding a link would be sufficient for now and maybe WebStore has this capability already.

If anyone at Amazon is listening, adding some or all of these capabilities would greatly increase my desire to open up an Amazon WebStore.

When you compare WebStore to its major Marketplace competitors (eBay ProStores and Yahoo Stores) Webstore is not too far off the mark.

Lets compare eBay ProStores to Amazon WebStore

  • eBay's ProStores - $74.95 per month up to $249.95 per month plus a 0.5% FVF. PayPal and CC processing charges are additional and can run up to 5% depending on volume also if you want more capability you have to upgrade your service from one program to the next.
  • Amazon Webstore scales without having to increase your monthly fee and includes payment processing in your FVF so if you deduct the 4 - 5 % for transaction processing your actual FVF is 2 - 3% Also it looks like with WebStore you don't need an advanced technical degree to get up and running.

How about Yahoo Stores vs. Amazon WebStore

  • Yahoo's Stores - $99.95 per month to $249.95 per month plus a 1% to .75% FVF. PayPal and CC processing charges are additional and can run up to 5% depending on volume, also if you want more capability you have to upgrade your service from one program to the next.
  • Amazon Webstore scales without having to increase your monthly fee and includes payment processing in your FVF so if you deduct the 4 - 5 % for transaction processing your actual FVF is 2 - 3% Also it looks like with WebStore you don't need an advanced technical degree to get up and running.

Amazon has a great deal more functionality then the other services as well:

  • Amazon's 60 million customers can buy on your WebStore using their Amazon account.
  • Ability to sell a wide range of additional product through Amazon's affiliate program
  • Your customers are protected by Amazon's A to Z guarantee
  • Lower up front costs
  • Net 2% higher FVF

The case can be made that Amazon's Webstore is a better value then eBay's ProStore or Yahoo's Store. So even if they don't add the fetures I listed above I am seriously considering it.

I think right now, if they rolled the Pro Merchant fee of $39.95 into the WebStore monthly fee I would be signing up this minute.

73 comments:

Kathy said...

I have had good success with Webstore. It is easy to create and maintain a site and there is no limit to the number of products you can list- all for 1 low fee. This is much more cost effective than eBay. You can view my site as an example of what Webstore can do at www.elementjewelry.com.

Randy Smythe said...

Kathy, thanks for the comment.

It is certainly less expensive than an eBay Featured Store (or whatever they call it now) at $49.95 a month plus 5 cents per listing plus 10% FVF, plus 4-5% for PayPal. Especially since eBay stores really are not getting much exposure in eBay search.

Good luck with your WebStore

Parrish said...

Last time I checked you could not have a media webstore - No Book Stores Is that still the case?

Randy Smythe said...

Parrish, I am checking into that right now. Hopefully I will get a response back shortly.

I do recall that there was a restriction in the early days of WebStore. If there is still a restriction then that would be a bummer.

I'll post something here as soon as I find out.

Nicholas said...

Hey Randy-

ProStores has lower-priced subscription tiers available than what is listed here. Any reason why you chose the $74.95 tier for comparison?

Randy Smythe said...

Hi Nicholas,

That tier was the best comparison for features. Yahoo has a less expensive tier as well but I wanted to do as close to an Apples to Apples comparison.

Thanks

Ready to Cover said...

Hey Randy,

I'm thinking of switching to Amazon webstore (from eBay). One big reason (Aside from what you've discussed above) is SEO...from what I've read/seen SEO will be much manageable with a webstore since I will have an actual site for the spiders to crawl vs an ebay store. Any thoughts / opinions on this?
Since they have a one month free trial (less comission) I think I'm going to give it a go just to see.

I'm thinking that my product line doesn't necessarily match the eBay customer base.

-R
www.readytocover.com

Randy Smythe said...

Parrish, please email me at rksmythe at yahoo dot com and I can explain in more depth.

Randy Smythe said...

Ready to Cover,

That is definitiely one of the big reasons to go with Amazon. Remember they are using their insights and technology from the main Amazon.com site and I guarantee you they have SEO figured out for Amazon.com It only makes sense they would add that learning to the WebStore offering.

What amazes me about using an eBay store is that the listing fees are just like using Google or Yahoo to drive traffic to your site.

Why would you a subscription fee of $49.95 (Featured Store) 3 cents per listing to eBay for the privelige of paying them 12% FVF and 4% to PayPal, when you can pay $59.95 a month plus 7% total to Amazon and have the A2Z gurantee?

Am I missing something here?

Ready to Cover said...

No you are not, which is why I'm leaving eBay.

Amazon webstore is much better. HOWEVER, I can see how some may prefer eBay because it is much easier in terms of setting up. Amazon takes a little more knowledge of general web language / CSS, etc to really get going IMO.

Kevin said...

Hi,

Can products be sourced from drop-ship suppliers? Or only from Amazon, or my own inventory?

Thank you,
Kevin

Randy Smythe said...

With a WebStore you can source your product anywhere. It can be your own inventory or product shipped through a drop-shipper.

Though in order to be qualified for Amazon's A2Z guarantee their may be some restictions in regards to level of service.

Kevin said...

What about shipping? If I sell my own products (drop-ship, etc.) how does WebStore address shipping logistics, fees, etc.? What’s the process?

Thank you for this great info!

Randy Smythe said...

Kevin,

It's just like any other website. You establish your prices for your product and decide what you want to charge for S&H. You have total control over that.

When you get orders from the webstore you Pick, Pack and Ship them yourself or through another party and you handle all customer service.

Think of it as your own website with lots of benefits from Amazon, (product reviews, affiliate links, A2Z Guarantee, Amazon technology, Amazon Payments, etc.)

Again, there may be some service level restrictions in order to get the A2Z guarantee for your customers.

Hope that helped.

Cindy said...

How does this compare with Volusion? We use that now, but we're having some problems, looking for another solution. We already sell on Amazon, we just want to have another website presence.

Randy Smythe said...

Cindy,

Volusion is a typical webstore platform. They charge more upfront and more each month but do not charge a FVF. You do still need to pay Merchant fees or through Google Checkout.

With the Amazon Webstore you can have multiple webstore for one flat monthly rate. You pay extra for each store at Volusion.

Jason said...

Randy, new to your blog. Very helpful. Thank you. I have a business idea I am looking to take to the web and am looking for the best solution. Two quick questions. One, if I run my website through Webstore by Amazon, and assuming I have a merchant account set up, do I not pay any additional credit card fees to process cc transactions? In other words, is all that included? Number two, I am selling custom designed apparel, and one challenge with Webstore is that every item needs a UPC code. Do you know of anyone who has been able to get approval through Amazon to list items without UPC codes. With apparel, obviously that can get very expensive. I appreciate your help! Thanks, Jason

Randy Smythe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy Smythe said...

Jason, with Webstore all orders are processed through Amazon so the 7% FVF includes your merchant processing fees.

As for your question about non-UPC items. A rule of thumb is, if it can be sold on Amazon.com right now it can be sold in a WebStore.

Apparel is being sold on Amazon.com but it may be limited to a small number of sellers.

Here is a good example of a WebStore selling apparel. The Foursome

BoiseGuy said...

Randy,

Most excellent post!! As I am in the midst of trying to determine whether to do Ebay prostores or Amazon WebStore I found your post(blog). This has swayed me definitely toward Amazon's offering. I am still researching and will continue to frequent your site for more information. Thanks for doing what you're doing.

lee (at) dennismansfield.com

Kevin said...

I see that Amazon Webstore does NOT have processes to calculate shipping or sales tax based on the customer’s ship to address; does this make it quite difficult to accurately charge customers at one side of the country versus customers on the other side of the country?

Do you have any suggestions as to how to properly charge customers based on ship weight and the location of the customer? Thank you.

Randy Smythe said...

Kevin,

eMail me and I'll see what I can come-up with.

rksmythe atyahoo

rent to said...

I Been trying to add in bulk on amamzon webstore.

Does anyone know how to add products without upc.

My suppliers have over 50 thousand products

and there is no way i can get all the upc code from them.

Anyone knows a way around it?

Thanks

Randy Smythe said...

rent to,

Unfortunately if you don't have a UPC, ISBN, ASIN or EAN you can't upload in bulk. You would need to create each listing manually.

I don't know any way around that.

Kevin said...

A quick follow-up; about one month ago my partners and I signed up with Amazon’s Webstore and have since canceled our account.

Webstore is unable to calculate shipping based on the location of your customer. If you have any products more than 5 pounds, and have customers at all corners of the country, it is quite impossible to charge customers accurate shipping.

Amazon is also not able to calculate any sales taxes for customers within your home state.

Amazon Tech support reps were all too familiar with the shipping and sales tax constraints.

We have switch to Yahoo Small Business, which has a cheaper monthly fee, and cheaper transaction cost.

I do not recommend Amazon Webstore for small start-ups.

Kevin

Randy Smythe said...

Kevin, thanks for the info. This certainly is a problem for many sellers.

There are ways to work around the S&H issues but Sales Tax will always be a concern because its an Amazon service.

rent to said...

Thank sfor all the info.

This information save me some time and money.

Thanks

Addict said...

I emjoy your blog, I just recently tried to start selling on Amazon and am running into the UPC challenge, you mentioned to a previous person that the you can bypass entering a UPC code for a product if you enter it manually. I've been trying to figure out how to do that but it seems even when I enter manually it asks for the UPC code. Any direction you can give would be great.

Kevin said...

After leaving Amazon's Webstore we switched to Yahoo Small Business. An example of an implemented live site using Yahoo's Small Business product can be found here:

http://www.furrypetsupply.com

Now that I have used both Amazon Webstore and Yahoo Small Business, I can honestly say that Yahoo's product is far easier to implement, provides more features and takes far less time to get up and running than Amazon Webstore.

Randy Smythe said...

Addict - email me directly and I'll walk you through it.
rksmythe atyahoo . com

Kevin, can you email me also? Did the Yahoo Store address your S&H and Sales Tax issues?

I think I may need to create a store on Yahoo, Amazon and Pro-Stores to do an accurate comparison

Anonymous said...

I am new to selling on Amazon, I have bought from Amazon before. But today I got a call from a man from the site "Fortune500.com" that wants to get me started in my own store on Amazon for $300. With a monthly fee of $29, they will host and take care of a lot of updating, and sell the amazon products already there. My question is, Is this the same as signing up with the Associates program on Amazon? or is this something all together different?

Randy Smythe said...

That doesn't sound like an Amazon WebStore deal. Could you email me the details so I can look into it.

rksmythe at yahoo

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Yes I will randy, thanks for your post, I will send that as soon as I receive it in the mail in a couple of days and let you look into it. thanks

Anonymous said...

OK, so what's the final word on the UPC codes? my products don't have one... I'm had being selling on eBay for years and trying to expand to amazon... but the UPC code situation is just a big headake... my trail period expire and I haven't get a response from amazon yet. HELP!

Christina said...

In order to sell things in a amazon webstore all the products need to have a UPC?. Thanks for any feedback

Randy Smythe said...

Christina, no they do not all have to UPC codes if they are just going to be in your webstore

Anonymous said...

I think you need an upc code. because i have done 2 month with amazon store and i was trying to insert my suppliers products. And they told me that the only way to insert my products was with an upc code.

Randy Smythe said...

I may be wrong here, but I beleive they have it setup so that you can list items that are in you Webstore and not on Amazon so that would eleiminate the need for a UPC code.

Tha may depend on the categories though. I'll contact them and see if I can get some clarification.

Anonymous said...

hi randy,

Have you received any reply from amazon from upc?

i'm thinking in trying again to see if there is anything else i can do.

do you know any promotion going for amazon webstore right now?

thanks

Randy Smythe said...

I haven't heard back yet. The only promotion I know about is the first month free.

http://webstore.amazon.com/

My email address is

rksmythe at yahoo if you need to reach me directly.

U2mart.com said...

This is all very useful info. I would be interested if anyone could run a comparison between Amazon's Webstore vs Build A Niche Store 0r BANS which is basically an ebay affiliate script. I paid one time fee of $98 and can create multiple stores. Right now I just have the one www.BidU2.com but I am not too happy with bids/sales. I own another domain which I am thinking of using Webstore's model for www.BuyU2.com . ANy fedback, thoughts, suggestions would be helpful.

pat
www.buildanichestore.com
www.bidu2.com

Randy Smythe said...

Pat,

Amazon restricts Webstores to 25K Affiliate listings. They really do want you to sell your own product.

I haven't completely launched my webstore yet, but once I make it through the holiday season I will write several posts on the experience.

at the edge said...

Say friend, if the webstore I'll set up brings me to higher levels of output, can I then opt to have the warehousing and shipping done by Amazon?

Thanks much in advance.

Randy Smythe said...

You can choose FBA at any point. FBA fulfills all of my website orders.

Chana Bracha said...

Randy - pardon me but what means FBA,
and for that matter FVF.

As a newcomer, these terms still mean nothing to me.
Thanks.

Randy Smythe said...

Chana,

FBA means Fulfillment by Amazon; a serve for storing and shipping your product and FVF means Final Value Fee (Basically Amazon's commission)

brigadegames said...

Well I just canceled my Webstore by Amazon after they gated the Toys section from 9/12- 1/5/09. I sell my own mfd and imported goods that I have exclusives on. This is contrary to what I or anyone else was told when they signed up. What a rip off.
Thank God I did not move my entire business to Amazon Webstore or I would have been screwed this holiday season.

brigadegames said...

BTW -the non UPC items is solved by "ease use PrivateLabel as one word in the registered parameter field in the template, using ease use PrivateLabel as one word in the registered parameter field in the template, using private_label with an underscore will not work properly and will cause the upload to error out. with an underscore will not work properly and will cause the upload to error out."

They originally told me to use "private_label."

Anonymous said...

Beware of Amazon's A-Z claim process as a seller, they suck. Amazon does not detail how a seller should protect themselves against fraudulent claims. I've lost claims where the usps and fedex shows delivered and the buyer files a non delivery claim, which I subsequently lose. The reason amazon provides in email, but not published in their terms, is that all shipment REQUIRE A SIGNATURE in order to prove delivery. They will rule AGAINST THE SELLER every time unless you have a signature, AMAZON SELLER BEWARE.

Anonymous said...

Will it be possible to sell downloadable products on the webstore?

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous,

Not right now but Amazon is considering allowing Webstores to sell their media downloads.

Sorry!

Michael & Marcia said...

Hi Randy,

We currently have a Seller Central Account. How I can sign up the webstore that is linked to my Seller Central Account? Does the option of "Sign up webstore and sell on amazon" create a new Seller Central Account?

We currently only sell about 100 orders a month at amazon but like to expand.

We have already had our own web store which is powered by buyitsellit.com at:
http://www.shopmmc.com

Thanks,
Michael & Marcia

Randy Smythe said...

Michael and Marcia,

You should be able to sign-up for a Webstore right inside your existing Seller Central account.

eMail if you have any problems. rksmythe at yahoo

Jim S. said...

Hi Randy,

I was locked out of the Toys & Hobbies Sep-Jan as well so I closed my AMZ acct and opened a web site in Nov using ProStores through IntuitSolutions. I have been extremely happy with the site and their support. After 45 days I'm at 75% eBay (mostly Store)/25% website.

Now that AMZ has reopened Toys & Hobbies, I'm thinking about selling there again (though sales tax collection is a concern and the 15%FVF in that category is steep). And the UPC requirement is also an issue though I just learned about BuyaBarCode which may solve that problem.

But, is it possible to have too many venues? I'd have an eBay Store, my own website and Amazon, all under the same brand. I may try them all for 9-12 months then give up the poorest performer.

Your thoughts on this?

Chris C. said...

Thanks for the information! FBA question - could sales through my webstore use the FBA pricing or would they be considered Basic Fulfillment?

Randy Smythe said...

Chris C.,

Currently the Webstore sales combined with FBA shipments gets the Amazon pricing, so it is a good deal. I'm not sure how long that will be the case.

Gloria said...

A note for anyone reading who's in search for a shopping cart solution based outside the US, the AMZ webstore solution is only available for sellers in the US, you need a US credit card and contactable phone number before you can sign up.

Thanks Randy for a great post!

ZAJA Natural said...

I have been on Amazon for 3 years now and they do not require a signature to prove that you shipped the item and that it was delivered. last year I had 3 cases where the buyer tried to claim nondelivery on a package I had delivery confirmation on. Amazon closed each case in my favor.

Too bad with the toys category, but I can understand why they did it, especially if the toys are being handmade and might not meet regulations or been tested. These are tough times we are living.

To bypass using UPS you can put privatelabel and I believe there is another one. I will open my seller desktop tomorrow and see what I use (I am in the beauty section.)

I am in the process of making a possible switch to Webstore too from using Oscommerce for over 4 years. Thanks for the wealth of info provided Randy!

Chris C. said...

I tried the free trial with my hand-crafted pens. Amazon required a unique UPC for each item, even if NOT for sale on Amazon. Since that was not affordable, they suggested that Webstore was not for me.

Family Blog said...

Amazon Webstore is a joke! I have an Amazon shop and do very well with it. I wanted to branch out and use a domain I have that receive a lot of traffic so I signed up with Webstore. Well, it is not even worth going into but suffice it to say I am not a fan. There is no means of controlling you inventory and at every juncture there is a prompt for "Professional Help" with your shop. If they set it up properly why would you need it? The interface feels like some sort of outsourced, third-party garbage coded in God knows where. I don't recommend this to anyone. And, with all due respect, those on this blog that are hyping it probably work for Amazon or are paid bloggers.

Randy Smythe said...

Family Blog,

Why even say with all due respect when you follow that up by calling me a shill for Amazon.

I work for Buy.com, BTW.

I can't imagine that webstore is ideal for everyone. It was perfect for me before I went to work for Buy and stop being aggressive with my own online sales.

It works well for Media product especially that tied to FBA. It is not for everybody as you proved.

FloridaHockeyGuy said...

Great blog.

We have had a Webstore by Amazon for over 2 years- did it for simplicity since we also sold on Amazon, and this facilitated inventory database management.

However, it has turned into a nightmare. We sell supplements, and as listings and ASIN numbers are consolidated, your listings get caught up with other people's descriptions, even if wrong. For example, if the master ASIN has a "relationship" that somebody has incorrectly set up, you MUST conform to that relationship, or your product becomes "orphaned" and disappears off YOUR site. Puzzled that sales dried up a few weeks ago, we were horrified to find 15 of our top 20 selliing products discontinued off our site due to the consolidation of ASIN #s in Amazon's database. You MUST resubmit your products with the faulty relationship, or you can not list them. Furthermore, any updates to your listings must conform to the master ASIN, or it will be rejected. It has turned into a major, major headache, and we are looking for other solutions. Too bad, because I thought the simplicity and pricing was attractive, but the latest results are not acceptable to us.

Randy Smythe said...

Florida Hockey,

That is a short coming of the platform and I'm not sure they have an easy answer for fixing that.

james said...

Randy, thanks for all your research and detailed responses.

I'm curious to know how the peripheral functionality of the Webstores stack up against other comprehensive shopping cart solutions.

Do Amazon Webstores offer an email marketing function-- or do they at least provide you with an exportable database of your cusotmers? Do they have an affiliate program built into the system? Do they integrate with Quickbooks?

Thanks in advance.

SamTheMan said...

I dont get the webstore thing. i have a regular free amazon account and use the "sell yours" to sell things that are already on amazon. the problem is i have specific items i want to sell on amazon that arent on there. what kind of account would i need to list items on amazons website that arent on there already?
is this what webstore offers?
sorry, i just find amazon confusing and their customer support doesnt help much.

Anonymous said...

i thought Amazon will pay the correct shipping cost for the items being sold. i was wrong, they didn't even pay for half of the shipping cost. it was their problem, but they closed translation and even blocked my account. they will do whatever they want to do not even listing to seller at all, thanks God i was suspesious about amazon did not move my all the business to amazon. by the way, there is no way to sell used books on amazon as well. because shipping cost more than what you are selling for. a lot of people moved away from amazon like me. i think their good time will end soon maybe that is why they are eager to create kindle and looking into other ways to survive in the future.

Anonymous said...

Amazon is good for big company but definitely not for small business and startup. yahoo's service is better for small guys.

Anonymous said...

amazon will mess up with my account, they did whatever they want with my hard earned money. cheating on the shipping, problem with home state tax, bad customer service. we closed up the amazon store. check out complaints from people get tracked inside on their webstore's online community QA section, there are many closed up their stores. we will never use it again.

Robin said...

This is all very interesting. I hope you'll blog more about the new beta Amazon WebStore. We'd like to hear from you and link to you in the future if you've got up-to-date content.

It seems Amazon is re-focusing on small and medium business with the new beta WebStore. However, because the documentation is frustrating, we wrote a tutorial to help set up a new Amazon WebStore. Our guide is free to download at http://www.webstoreguide.info.

Please share this with readers who want a store for their own and also Amazon Affiliate products.

brooklyn movers said...

This is a good offer if it also includes shipping. Although it is very rare when it comes to deals like this.

Unknown said...

Phenomenal post, thank you Randy!

One question, i'm trying to start a retail/wholesale business. And the concept of CRM is important me in the sense that I need to track my customer interaction history, maintain the relationship and may send marketing material.

From what I read above, Amazon seller do not get buyer's email addresses. When I pack my Amazon Webstore storefront and move elsewhere, am I doomed to lose all my customer? What would be a good service provider in my scenario?

Thanks!

Sum

Ryan Dickey said...

How do I find a break down for each item how much i am making after all the fees Amazon has? Amazon doesn't seem to make it that clear and was hoping to find some sort of calculator that can show this.

Also with UPC If I make my own printed shirts that are not like other shirts online, will I have UPC problems?

Cygan Saber said...

Nếu bạn đang định mua hàng ở amazon và có thắc mắc mua hàng trên amazon có tính thuế không hay cần tư vấn hướng dẫn cách mua thì hãy liên hệ chúng tôi. Chúng tôi nhận ship hàng từ amazon, nếu bạn sử dụng dịch vụ của chúng tôi bạn sẽ không cần lo lắng hay tìm hiểu nhiều nữa.
Ngoài ra chúng tôi còn nhận vận chuyển hàng đi campuchia, chuyển hàng từ Pháp về Việt Nam, ship hàng từ đức về việt nam, chuyển hàng sang lào hay chuyển hàng từ anh về việt nam. Hãy để chúng tôi lo cho bạn nỗi lo về vận chuyển ship hàng.