Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why is Handmade at Amazon failing so many of its Sellers

Schnauzer Dog Portrait Painting
Why is Handmade at Amazon failing so many of its sellers? Not all, some report great sales, especially in the jewelry category.

The first ten days were great for many of us.  Amazon was pushing the Handmade category in the press, they had a banner advertising it and they sent out emails to their customers.

Since then, it seems they have just abandoned us.  A lot of money is being left on the table due to Amazon's inactions.

No new categories, irrelevant search results, no enforcement of the rules, no press, the Christmas banner left up until late January, when someone complained about it in the forums.  A single blogger with no staff would have changed that up without waiting to be told.

So what is going on?  Jason Rickenbacker thinks he knows, and I have to admit the puzzle pieces fit into those slots. He thinks Amazon opened a token Handmade to get the press and drive down Etsy stock for an Amazon buyout.  His article is here: http://seekingalpha.com/article/3805396-handmade-at-amazon-a-crafty-ploy-paving-the-way-for-an-etsy-buyout

What evidence do we have that he's wrong?  Only this: An Amazon employee answered a question their forums saying they were really building a legit site, and then immediately closed the discussion.  Move on, nothing to see here.  Their actions do not correspond with those words.

Some specifics that seem to prove that Rickenbacker is right:

1.  No new categories.  3 months plus in, and we have yet to see an addition of categories.  But if the current categories worked, I'd put less value on that.  The category where sellers put their items is ..... anywhere they please.  The first page in the Drawing category has exactly one drawing.  The rest of the page is coloring books, paper dolls, reproductions prints. The painting category? Mostly inexpensive reproduction prints.  There's a category FOR reproduction prints, but Amazon, well aware of the issue, has done absolutely nothing to clean up the categories.

2.  No press.  No publicity.  No nothing.

3.  Irrelevant search results.

A search for "custom dog portraits" showed that half of the results were for wall decals, mostly of butterflies.  Half.  Amazon's reaction when I brought this up in their forums?  That we should assume that the seller broke their rules and used misleading search terms and we should rat them out and THEN, Amazon would act.

They are aware of it, but task US with filling out forms to rat them out!  I should note that the ratting out of the misuse of categories has gotten....zero action on Amazon's part. They are well aware of the abuse of categories.  Why should we expect Amazon to enforce any rules for handmade when history shows they do not?

4.  The Amazon Handmade Forums.  Amazon permits their forums to be used by a handful of users as Snarkland, where legitimate questions, discussions and comments about the above or any other Amazon failing are ridiculed, along with the askers.

Few sellers use their forums because of this and several Facebook groups have emerged where discussions are civil.

Allowing a handful of users to drive off questioners about Amazon negatives raises a lot of red flags too.

UPDATE:  An Amazon employee has publicly chastised the nasties on their forum for their behavior. That's a good sign, the most hopeful sign I've seen in three months that Amazon might really be in this for the long haul.

In conclusion, I think Amazon still could turn this around IF they want to, and if they didn't just start a mock site to drive down Etsy stock, as Jason Rickenbacker suggests.  As of now, though, there are a lot of potential sales left on the table because buyers can't find what they search for, what they browse for and don't even know that what they are shopping for exists on Amazon.  What possible motivation is there for Amazon to stall Handmade?

Well.....maybe Rickenbacker is right.


Cindy said...

That was a great summation, thank you! I feel so hemmed in with H@A, but have since left Etsy after being toyed with too long as a seasoned seller who went from very good success to stagnation. I did have a healthy holiday selling season on H@A, but things have slowed to a crawl now. Oh what to do? Your work is beautiful!

Robin said...

Thank you, Nana! 2014 just about killed me on Etsy when clumping was in full force. My work couldn't be seen by any buyer unless they perservered through a few dozen pages. Even though they "fixed" it in late November, the impact was already felt and continued into 2015.

They wouldn't have even looked into it except for the very vocal and very persistent postings of some of us. And of course, those who WERE clumping no doubt have seen their views decrease when they instituted the quota in the first pages.

I just try to ride the highs and was hoping HaA would give me more security.

I think being vocal and "nagging" HaA will spur them IF they are sincere in wanting to build a handmade site, and the more voices on the forums, the better.

It's our only hope.