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Amazon.co.uk is a massive online organisation and to do the site justice it would probably take around 3 opinions to introduce its range of products and services. There are hundreds of opinions and some fantastic ones at that so I am concentrating my review on one particular aspect of Amazon, The Marketplace.
At first I found it quite strange that an online shop would want to risk its own sales for those in favour of buying second hand goods or new ones from alternative suppliers. This is exactly what the marketplace is. Whenever you wish to make purchase on Amazon there may be the possibility to purchase the said item from another online retailer or a none business person such as you or me wishing to sell an item that they no longer require.
I’ll tell you about how I came across the marketplace and how it works, it will be necessary to tell you a little about Amazon itself as it does incorporate the marketplace within its main website.
~~~~ AMAZON ~~~~
Amazon has stores in the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Canada and the UK. They have a catalogue of 1.5 million books, thousands of DVDs, Videos, CDs, Software, Video Games and Toys. It also has a wide electronics section where you can buy digital cameras, DVD players and camcorders to name a few. The best thing about this is that you can select the department you want from a tab at the top of the page but all your purchases can be ordered together. With the likes of Tesco each shop is a separate shop so if you want something from the electronics department you will have to purchase the item and make a separate order for say a CD.
The homepage has to be one of the easiest to navigate that I have come across. You can easily see the tabs at the top of the page to locate the department you want. Once you have registered with the site your name will be displayed at the top of the page. It will automatically recognise you when you access the site but you need to input your password before you make any purchases. You do not have to register to browse the site and an account will automatically be set up for you when you make your first purchase. Of course you will have to give your name, address, credit card details etc at this point and then those details will be stored for future purchases. You can use a different credit card or delivery address next time you make a purchase, you just need to enter the additional details.
As I am concentrating on the marketplace side of things I’ll tell you next how to get there! On the left hand side of the homepage you will see ‘sell your stuff’ in the more to explore box, highlighted in blue you will see the words ‘marketplace’ click on this and it will take you to a page that tells you all about it. It is worth reading all about this before you decide to buy or sell, make sure you understand how it works and if it’s for you. I will explain this in detail later but I’ll also tell you about the most likely way that you will discover marketplace.
This will occur when you are considering making a purchase from the Amazon site itself. I was looking to buy Ice Age on DVD and I typed the details in to the search engine. It brought up my search results and in red it said Our Price £14.99 and underneath ‘used price’ £11.99. This intrigued me so I clicked on the highlighted ‘used price’ option. There I was presented with a series of options. You don’t have to go straight to the search engine; if you browse the site by category you will still get the same results.
~~~~ WHAT HAPPENED? ~~~~
Well, I was presented with 5 used DVDs to buy at varying prices, ranging from £11.99 to £16.99. Each DVD available will give details of the seller, the sellers rating, a brief description of the condition of the product and a ‘buy from seller link’
It is advisable to check out the sellers rating prior to purchase, don’t just go for the cheapest. Previous customers provide the ratings and feedback much in the way that ebay works. Sellers and buyers are provided with a feedback rating from 1 to 5 stars and you can view how many ratings they have received and read comments left by other users. Even if someone has a fantastic rating I still cannot understand why someone would be selling a used DVD for £16.99 when Amazon are selling it new for £14.99!
To the right of the page you also have an option to purchase the item new from other marketplace sellers instead of Amazon. The prices for Ice Age at the moment to buy new range from £13.90 to £19.99, again some are more expensive than the Amazon purchase. Just because someone doesn’t have feedback it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy from them, everyone has to have a first time at selling! The protection you receive from Amazon is excellent, much better than that of ebay. If you still wish to purchase from Amazon then simply click back to the page where you can add it to your basket and proceed through to the checkout. You have nothing to loose by having a look at the marketplace prior to making your decision.
If like me you decide to give the Marketplace a chance here is what you will expect.
~~~~~ SECURITY ~~~~~
No customers have reported fraudulent use as a result of shopping at Amazon, in the unlikely event that this was to happen; Amazon would cover the first £50 of any fraudulent transaction if you were liable for this amount by your card company.
Amazons secure server encrypts all information including name and address and card number.
The security when buying from Amazon Marketplace is excellent as all purchases are made through Amazon Payments, which you need to sign up for. All this means is that you simply register a credit or debit card to use against your purchases and Amazon take care of the rest. The protection this provides to buyers is second to none. Firstly your card details will never be passed to the seller, Amazon simply takes the payment and then transfers it to the sellers account. You can send a payment via Visa, Delta, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Eurocard, American Express, Switch or Solo.
Without being too long winded the following countries are currently covered by Amazon Payments: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales), and the United States (including US protectorates).
All marketplace buyers and sellers have to sign up to Amazon payments but it is up to them whether they will ship internationally or not. All transactions made through the marketplace and paid for using Amazon Payments are covered by the A-Z guarantee for up to £2000!
There is quite a lot to the A-Z guarantee but basically you are covered if the seller does not send the item you buy or it is materially different than described. You should always try and get a refund from the seller first. If you have no success you will have to wait 30 days from the date of purchase and then you have another 30 days in which to make a claim.
To sign up you will need to provide personal details which include your card number and your bank details. Bank details are needed, as when someone makes a purchase the money will firstly be stored in your payment account and then transferred to your bank account every 2 weeks. There is no charge to transfer the money to your account as all fees are taken when the purchase is made. It costs nothing for the buyer to buy something, the seller stumps up all the costs. To be honest the fees for selling are more expensive than ebay and may put some people off. I’ll give you an example of a recent sale I had:
I sold The Planets on DVD for £21.50, for this I received a net payment of £18.62, the fees I paid were £3.98 which is far more than I would expect to pay on ebay. You are credited with a postage payment from Amazon which in this case was £1.10 as they charge a set amount to the buyer. My total charge direct from Amazon was therefore £2.88 but remember I had to pay for the P&P of the item out of my own pocket. I have been told in the comments that the postage credit for selling books is quite generous due to their weight, obviously this helps.
For Amazon.co.uk Marketplace items, your fee for the payments service is included in the Marketplace closing fee of £0.75 plus 15% of the final sales price (10% for consumer electronics). You may be thinking and rightly so why I would want to sell on Amazon if the charges are so high. Well, normally I would sell on ebay but there is so much competition on there you may not sell the item and something such as The Planets on DVD will not be at the top of peoples list.
Many will use Amazon to search for specific titles and study books, you will have more chance of selling these items with an organisation such as Amazon. Also people can register an interest to buy a used item before it becomes available. Each time you log on you get a message telling you how much you could make if you sold your previous Amazon purchases. I explored this further and someone had expressed an interest in buying Willy Wonka with a set used price. Amazon knew I had purchased this item from them previously and I was given the option to list the item for sale. Am email would then be sent to anyone who had previously notified Amazon of their interest. The purchase was made the same day and the transaction went very smoothly.
You are always sent an email when someone purchases one of your items and then this will be followed by another email when payment has been made. This is usually quite quick as all payments are made through the Amazon Payment system by card. It is your responsibility as a seller to then post the item within 2 days of it being purchased, you need to read and agree to a participation agreement when you sign up to the marketplace as Amazon have a reputation to uphold.
Don’t worry if you list an item and it doesn’t sell, unlike ebay it won’t cost you anything. You can view statements and transactions for items bought and sold at any time and when a payment is transferred to your account you will receive an email concerning this. I have always received my payments on time and I am very happy with the way the system works. If for any reason when you have sold an item there is a problem and the purchaser wishes to return it don’t worry about refunding the payment. There is a section on your payment history that allows you to make refunds; they seem to have thought of everything.
~~~~ IN SUMMARY FOR FEAR OF GOING ON FOREVER~~~~~ I think Amazon is a safer environment to buy second hand goods as the protection they offer is far greater than ebay. Also they will not stand for any bad publicity and any seller who breaks the rules will not be allowed to sell on Amazon again. It is safer and quicker than sending cheques as no bank details belonging to either party need to be shared with anyone other than Amazon, the item can be shipped immediately as you know that once the payment has gone through it cannot be retracted.
You can view and change information at any time whether you are buying or selling.
You can pre-order items just in the same way you would do with any Amazon purchase.
You have the back up of a large online organisation with fraud protection.
Buyers will definitely get a bargain! I have always been happy with my purchases; they have been well packaged and as described.
Sellers need to be prepared to pay higher fees than on ebay for speedy and secure transactions or exposure that they wouldn’t normally receive.
I would recommend Amazon Marketplace to both buyers and sellers but would urge you to read all the terms & conditions before proceeding. Know what the costs involved are and make your decision to buy or sell carefully. Remember that although you have the A-Z protection you are dealing with someone other than Amazon and they cannot guarantee that you will get what you pay for, they can only help you resolve the issue afterwards. Feedback in the comments from both buyers and sellers has been very positive.
Excellent op. I think Amazon are attempting to position themselves as a portal rather than simply a retailer. Due to the competition online to sell books, margins are slim. Therefore they generate an income through used items sales via commissions without having to actually stock or post anything. One thing I have noticed with Amazon is that they use a Just-In-Time system to keep stock, so they don't actually have a large supply of books hanging around losing value and taking up space. So, really, the used items sales could be more profitable for them per sale than some new items.
ariadne 14.04.2003 22:46
It is a *lot* more expensive to sell via Marketplace than eBay but I agree it's a lot safer and more convenient - I've never had any problems. Excellent review! x
Arbrette 01.04.2003 11:40
I had absolutely no idea that Amazon did asecond hand sales - weems a bit odd, I agree. The site was recommended to me by my daughter a couple of years ago, as they had an offer on for introdutions - some stupidly good one, but the money situation meant that I enjoyed the thought and just registered the name. Neing able to sell, however, is much more use to me. I had seen Ebay, but just ignored Amazeon. Thanks!