Thursday, October 02, 2008

My New Amazon WebStore

I know what you are thinking! Randy has totally sold out. He's just switched from having all his eggs in the eBay basket to having all his eggs in the Amazon basket. That is partly true, but mostly because I just don't have the same business model with InetMediaSource that I had with GlacierBayDVD. 
  • InetMediaSource is low overhead, minimal time commitment, low volume, slower growth but much higher profit margin -- it is a "lifestyle business".
  • GlacierBay was high overhead, full-time + commitment, high volume, high growth, high risk (when the growth stopped) low margin business - it was my whole life.
But don't poo-poo my approach just yet, because I am branching out a little; even though it is still with an Amazon product. 

I've chosen to launch an Amazon Webstore because I like the options Amazon gives me and it is perfect for my biz model. It works wonderfully with my "lifestyle business" and my FBA account, besides I need more stuff to write about -- I can't always be bitching about eBay.
My first shot at the Amazon Webstore was not a very successful one. I opened an account with Amazon's Webstore back in June, and to be honest it was quite painful getting started. I wasn't impressed at all, so I just stopped working on it. That is until Tuesday of this week, when I flew up to Seattle to spend some time with the folks at Amazon. I was informed that there was a new release for Webstore, that answered many of my questions. Full disclosure here, I am not getting paid to write this post, nor is Amazon giving me a free WebStore. (Though I wouldn't turn that down) I'm writing this because I think it's cool and it's my blog, so there.

While I was on my way back from Seattle and hanging out at the airport waiting for my plane, I decided to play around with the Webstore. I used their new "one-click" design program and had the site up before my plane arrived. I then imported my inventory from Amazon and boarded my flight.

I fly Southwest, so I often have to make several stops to get home. This time it was Vegas and instead of waisting money on the slots, I worked some more on my Webstore -- whola my inventory was loaded and I was ready to rock-and-roll. Basically the only thing left to do was finish up my policies and business type content and setup my domain and get the marketing started. 

I knew that the Amazon Webstore allowed me to sell other Amazon product on my site and receive a commission, so I decided to load up the site with more product. I added my associate inventory and then boarded my flight.

It was late when I got to the house, but I wanted to check things out to see where the site stood and was pleased to see all of my inventory updated and the Amazon affiliate inventory in the correct categories and ready to go (I may still expand the sub-categories, but that can be done in an Excel spreadsheet, so that shouldn't be too much time). 

I decided to play around with some test orders and realized that the affiliate items and my inventory items all went in the same shopping cart. Normally an affiliate item (Amazon calls them Associates) would link over to the Amazon website, but not with my Webstore. The buyer can complete the entire transaction on my website and in my case, because I use FBA for my fulfillment, my customer can get Prime and Super-Saver shipping as well just like they do on Amazon -- very cool. I'm not sure how long that will last, but I might as well get the benefit while they allow it.

So, the next morning I made some additional changes to the look and feel of the site and published it here http://www.inetmediasource.com  [It is now live] 

Now, I am a media seller, so this is an ideal tool for me, but it does look like Amazon has fixed some of the problems other sellers have had with Webstore, so it may be a solution for you as well. With a free 30-day trial and the short amount of time it took me to get up and running. I think it is worth some effort to test it and see if it will work for you.

Now, lets get down to the nitty-gritty: 

The regular monthly cost is $59.99 plus they charge a 7% FVF (commission). At first this may seem high to many of you, but here is the breakdown of that 7%.
  • It includes your payment fees, which are not included in the FVF of competitors like Yahoo or eBay's ProStores. A $15 transaction with PayPal would cost $0.73 (2.9% + $0.30) or 4.9% and we all know the seller protection PayPal provides. With the Amazon Webstore, payments are included in the 7% fee and your customers get the World Class Amazon A-to-Z guarantee.
  • Google-Base feeds.
  • Unlimited number of Webstores for the one monthly fee. Maybe you want to have several niche websites and then cross-promote or you have several eBay IDs and want to keep all of those brands. Just create a Webstore for each of them and pay no additional monthly fee.
  • SEO ready site design -- shows up well in organic search.
  • Host it under your own domain.
  • Link from your Amazon Account. This link is very valuable because the search engines look at a link from Amazon as very impressive and this will help your rank in search. Some webstores are getting Google Page ranks of 6 or 7. 
  • If you sell on Amazon also, you can control all of your inventory in one place. If it sells on your Webstore and it was your last one, it automatically removes it from your Amazon inventory and vice-versa. The nice part about this is, if you no longer have inventory for that item, you can choose to replace it with an Associate listing until you get more in stock. Why not make a commission while you wait for your inventory?
  • Earn additional Affiliate/Associate income. You can earn up to 15% on some products and the beautiful thing to me is, your customer doesn't have to leave your site to pay for the Amazon product, it is simply included in your checkout.
  • If you use FBA to fulfill your product, then you can offer Prime Shipping and Super-Saver shipping on your items as well as the Amazon Associate items. In my case I set my basic and expedited shipping fees to $0.00 because I've already priced them for free shipping. (I'll update some strategies on International shipping once I've had a few orders).
  • The Webstore technology is infinitely scalable, because it is built on the same technology as Amazon, so if I am lucky enough to get lots of traffic, I don't need to pay more for hosting.
I won't do a direct comparison to Yahoo Stores, eBay ProStores, Volusion or others in this post but may later. My suggestion is to try Amazon's Webstore for 30-days at no cost.

To put this in perspective, when I was selling at GlacierBay, I spent $80,000 developing a website, paid $150 a month for hosting in addition to PayPal and Merchant fees on every transaction and it took me a full year to get up and running. My Amazon Webstore costs me $59.95 a month plus 7% FVF and I'll be live within a week and the platform is much more robust than my website at GlacierBay.

I'm still very early in my experience with the Amazon Webstore , but at least from what I am seeing from my second attempt at this - I really, really like it.

Just my 15%

9 comments:

Henrietta said...

I just skimmed through but it is a very interesting proposition for a seller with the right merchandise.

I hope you will keep us updated as things progress. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Keep us posted on your progress. Kelly

Looking for an eBay alternative said...

Did you have to upload your images and descriptions for your media items or does amazon let you use your similar to Muze?

Randy Smythe said...

Looking,

I just used their stuff to get up and running which means that my listings won't show-up in Google base yet and affiliate listings take precedence on the new stuff. My used stuff still has their own listings.

I've working on getting all of my content up there but that may take awhile.

Anonymous said...

Randy, How do you plan on getting traffic to your Webstore?

KenM

Randy Smythe said...

I'm going to take it slowly and pull back a little on my BuyBack ads and put that into my website. Just a small amount right now.

I'll do some social network stuff and play with SEO. It will grow slowly. I have very reasonable goals for sales. A

Beady Eyes said...

I tried to sign up. They won't let me use my account for media just yet. If I use a different one, I can't import my listings.

Argh, what is the hold up with them on this.

Anonymous said...

Randy:

Can you list old vintage stuff or just items of the UPC/ISBN ilk?

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.