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17 posts from December 2010

December 27, 2010

Are you taking some time off for the holidays?

Whenever you take time off, you can set your listings to inactive until you are ready to fulfill orders again.

This prevents customers from placing orders that might not be fulfilled right away. Not only is this the right customer experience, it can also help you relax and enjoy your time off.

When you are ready to sell again, just set your listings back to active. Within an hour your listings will again be available for sale on Amazon.com.

To learn more, search on "vacation" in seller Help.

Happy selling (and resting up) as the year comes to a close!

December 22, 2010

Handling Post-Order Problems

Leaf The majority of holiday sales on Amazon.com go well, but occasionally you may encounter a problem.  Let’s look at some of the most common things that could go wrong with an order and the ways to handle them.

I:  The buyer has made a mistake with an order and wants to fix it.

Below are the most common things buyers may ask you to do to fix an order and how you can respond:

Cancel the order

  • If you have not yet shipped the order, you can cancel it.  Buyers only have a 30-minute window to cancel their own orders, but you can cancel them up until the time you ship them.
  • If you have already shipped the order, you can't cancel it, but you can ask the buyer to return it for a refund. It's best to wait until you have the item in hand again before you return funds to the buyer.

Upgrade the shipping

  • If you have not yet shipped the order, it is up to you to decide whether to upgrade the shipping at the buyer’s request.  Sellers aren't obligated to provide a service that a buyer hasn't paid for or to accept promises of future reimbursement from buyers (sellers can't invoice buyers for extra costs, including postage).
  • If you have already shipped the order, provide the buyer with information about the shipping method you used, give them a realistic timeframe for delivery, and ask them to be patient. Here's the information Amazon provides to buyers about delivery expectations: Marketplace Shipping Times.

Ship the order to a different address

  • If you have not yet shipped the order, and the buyer says they cannot receive the order at the address they provided originally, you should cancel the order. The buyer can then return to Amazon.com to place a new order using the correct address.  Amazon policy requires sellers to ship only to the address provided in their Seller Account.
  • If you have already shipped the order and the buyer states that they won't receive the package at the address they provided, you can’t cancel the order but it may still be possible for the buyer to get the package re-routed if they know the recipients. Packages should be routed back to you and you can then refund the buyer.

II:  The buyer hasn't received the item they ordered.

As you might expect, buyers are often anxious to receive their holiday orders and will contact you by e-mail to check on the shipment status.

  • In many cases, the shipment isn't late but may not have arrived as early as the buyer hoped. It's possible that the package didn't arrive at the earliest estimated date.  In the case of "slow" packages, you will often need to explain the delivery time frames.
  • If the outside delivery date has passed, the best solution is to refund the buyer. Compensating buyers for lost shipments is simply a cost of doing business.
  • In the case of a "lost" item arriving in an empty box, you should contact the shipper to report the issue and ask about the options available to you. For a "late" item that may be lost, you may want to engage your carrier for assistance in locating the package and moving it along.
  • For an item that never arrives and is truly lost, you may be still able to recover your costs if you purchased insurance originally. You will need to determine your own level of acceptable loss when deciding to insure packages.

III: The buyer has received the order but wants to return it.

Here are the basics on handling returns:

  • As per your selling agreement, your return and refund policies must be at least as favorable as the current Amazon refund policies. You have to accept returns within the guidelines spelled out in the policy, even if the item was exactly as described and the buyer simply no longer wants it.
  • Returns of new items are different from returns of damaged/defective/materially different items.
  • Buyer returns should be postmarked within 30 days of the original shipment sent by the seller.
  • Returns should be posted to the address included on the outside of each package. It's a good idea to also include your return address inside the package and to confirm it with the buyer before a return is shipped.
  • In cases where there is nothing wrong with an item, buyers should cover the cost of return shipping.
  • In cases where an item is damaged or defective, or when it is materially different than the item described on the product detail page, sellers should cover the costs of return shipping. You can do this by issuing a concession to the buyer in advance of the return.
  • Sellers can charge restocking fees (up to 20%) for returned items that are not damaged, defective or materially different. These fees are meant to cover the extra handling costs to take the item back into inventory and relist it for sale.

We hope this information has been helpful.  If you have further questions about how to deal with order issues, please see our online seller Help pages.

Expert Tip for the Holidays: Make Sure You Keep Your Customers Post-Holidays

It all starts with customer service. Everything you do after a customer places an order on your site impacts their perception of your brand.

The first and most important step is making sure that the customer receives their order when they expect it. Also the response time to customer service inquiries plays a big role in customer retention. One of our clients, BodyBuilding.com, has 24-hour customer service and their average e-mail response time for the last 30 days is 29 minutes.

E-mail marketing and social media retention techniques are practically worthless if you have late shipping or poor customer service.

 

- Rick Backus, co-founder of CPC Strategy

December 20, 2010

Expert Tip for the Holidays: Tips to Attract And Convert Last-Minute Shoppers

With consumers waiting longer and longer to make a purchase, all merchants will be forced to target last-minute shoppers, which means there will be more noise during the last weeks of the shopping season. Keeping your site fresh with coupons, discounts, and free shipping offers will be crucial to converting these customers. Communicating regularly to your customers through catalogs, e-mails, blog posts, and tweets will be key.

Merchants might consider breaking through the clutter by working with deal-of-the-day sites. Amazon recently purchased Woot, and that’s a great place for retailers to start. Each day, Woot promotes one product to an incredibly passionate community looking for great deals. If Woot is all booked up, never fear: there are plenty of hot deal-of-the-day sites out there. Just make sure to understand the economics of the marketing channel before taking the plunge.

 

-Brian Smith, CEO of SingleFeed 

Best Practices For Contacting Seller Support

If you are new to selling on Amazon, you might be wondering what kind of information you should have when you need to contact Seller Support.

When you e-mail or call Support, please be ready to provide us with as much information as possible:

  • If your question is about your listings: Provide the ASIN or SKU
  • If your question is about a specific order: Provide the complete order number(s)
  • If your question is about a text file upload: Provide the Reference ID or Batch ID and the exact Error Message Received
  • If your question is about a Settlement Report: Provide the date of the settlement report
  • If your question is about an error or incorrect image on a product detail page: Provide a link to the page

Providing complete information when you contact Support helps us provide you with the highest quality assistance!

December 15, 2010

Expert Tip for the Holidays: Monitor Ad Performance Closely And Fix Issues Quickly

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen retailers make is not paying attention to analytics and metrics during the holidays. Small businesses are especially stretched thin during this time, and just keeping up with processing and shipping orders is a full-time job. But merchants need to keep a closer eye on all marketing activities and site metrics during the holidays, as the volume of activity can amplify potential problems. If at all possible, set alerts to notify the team when metrics are out-of-range, so that you can proactively address any issues.

What you can’t afford during the holidays is for a PPC campaign to go down or go in the red because you weren’t paying attention. Just as important is what’s happening on your website. If page load time is way up, if customers are taking a different path through the site, or if conversion metrics change significantly—you need to take action.

 

-Brian Smith, CEO of SingleFeed 

December 14, 2010

Holiday Selling Safety Tip 2: More Ways to Keep Your Seller Account Information Secure

Don’t miss out on higher order volume this holiday season. Malicious software and phishers can disrupt your computer or Seller Account.  Avoid this “holiday headache” by following a few best practices:

  • Update your security software on a regular basis. Modern malware (short for “malilcious software”) and viruses can obtain your password without your knowledge. Keep the virus and malware scanning programs on your computer up to date. If you do not have security software, we recommend products from McAfee and Symantec. If possible, on the computer you use to access your selling account, restrict your internet usage to only those sites you know and trust.
  • Update your operating system software regularly. If you use Microsoft Windows, download and install their security patches as they are released.
  • Don’t enter your personal information on a website without verifying the URL. Malicious people often send “phishing” emails in the holiday season, masquerading as your bank, or even as Amazon.com. These emails may ask you to enter personal information on their look-a-like website.  Be extra careful to double-check the URL in your browser before submitting any personal information. Learn more about how to protect your account from “phishing” in our previous Holiday Selling Safety Tip.

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