Friday, December 04, 2015

Handmade at Amazon Blues

Handmade at amazon blues image
I have the Handmade at Amazon Blues
I was so excited to receive an invitation for Handmade at Amazon. Amazon promised millions of potential customers and a strictly handmade site. A dream come true!

I believed Amazon had the expertise, the capital, the client base to do an absolutely brilliant job. My only concern was whether I would have enough time to fill orders and still make things!

Yep, I was one happy thrilled fan of Handmade at Amazon... before it opened.

Several months post launch not so much.

What happened?

First, let me stress that there are apparently many crafters and artists currently experiencing success on Handmade at Amazon. You can read their glee on various forums, and I am happy for them. However there are also many who are becoming disillusioned. Like me.

I don't know why some are so successful while others suffer utter failure, and for a few reasons I am not willing to take any more time to figure it out. Here's why.

I am dumbfounded that one of five primary categories while listing,  'Outdoor and Patio,' does not appear on amy of the main shopping menus. Since this is the category I list in, I believe this is a primary reason my listings are not seen. Invisible. My stats are dismal: far worse than any other site I have ever participated in, including my own little website.

I invested considerable time attempting to improve my visibility, all for naught. Also, creating or editing a listing is painful on Handmade: nightmarish listing templates. I have been on a dozen different sites, and this is by far the most terrible listing and editing experience yet.

Even worse— my pictures show up desaturated; they look awful. I found others were experiencing this too. After emails and phone calls to Handmade at Amazon support, a very nice, knowledgable support person phoned. She acknowledged that my pictures look worse than on other sites where I use the identical images, but she said after talking with Amazon engineers there is nothing Amazon plans to do to improve this issue. For handmade, pictures are what sell. Bad pictures mean low sales, no matter how many people see your work, and even more so when almost no one is seeing the work. Most disheartening.

Finally, the corporate atmosphere (all business, no soul) seems stifling. Something is missing here, from an artist point of view. You are encouraged not to get in touch with customers, you must answer question (even if your shop is on holiday mode) within 24 hours or face penalties, you must ship by the promised time, no excuse,  you must accept all returns (with the exception of custom orders) and pay for the return shipping if you sell internationally (even if the customer just changes their mind). That's all great for the customer, and I always do whatever I can to please my customers, but on Amazon it seems there is always a threat hanging over the seller's head. Of more concern is the way Amazon has 'trained' their customers: a quick look, buy with one click understanding that you can return whatever with no problem, expect your order to arrive instantly. It sounds like some sellers are 'enjoying' numerous returns.

So it turns out that the Handmade at Amazon has not lived up to my high expectations... not even close. Most distressing are the images showing poorly,  the lack of traffic, and the atmosphere.

I do want to say something very positive about Handmade at Amazon:  They have wonderful 24/7 email and telephone seller support. I have never had to wait more than a short time for an email response, and most often I get a telephone call from a knowledgeable pleasant support person. First rate. If only the site was that good!

Another good thing is some of the positive  spin off effects the entire experience has had, benefiting indirectly my Etsy store and my Coast Chimes website. More about that soon.

Although deeply disappointed I am not giving up. A few sales trickle in from those who do somehow manage to stumble across my listings. And I know Amazon is still tinkering. Who knows? Maybe they will fix it. I hope so.

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