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3 Reasons Consumer Electronics Sucks on Amazon.co.uk

By Chris Dawson February 4, 2013 - 6:14 am

Stuart from Freedom Mobiles is well versed in the selling of consumer electronics as he also runs Tablet Monster and iPad-Recycle. However he has some specific complaints about Amazon which make selling consumer electronics tricky:

Amazon is a well-oiled machine for selling bar-coded items such as books and DVDs. Naturally this has transferred buyers from these smaller ticket items to the same trusted checkout flow of higher end consumer electronics; tablets and mobile phones for example.

There are however some serious failings in the Amazon approach which have been identified and communicated by ourselves at Freedom-Mobiles.com, but completely dismissed by the Amazon Catalogue team. Have a look for yourself on Amazon and see if you agree with the points raised below.

1) Catalogue Inconsistencies

The catalogue itself is a mess, there is no consistency or naming convention whatsoever. Have a quick search for “iPad” and you will see what we mean here. Apple have only created specific model lines so there really is no excuse for shoddily worded third party entries here. Not to mention the “relevance metric” Amazon applies which is mysterious at best.

2) Network locked mobile phones

Network Locked Mobile iPhonesThere is no system in place for selling network locked mobiles. Amazon don’t have a policy on this. The well versed company response on this is that you must have the identical product for sale as the catalogue item – the problem is a network locked phone is identical to an unlocked one, in as much as the UPC or MPN is the same.

Having a separate catalogue entry per network would be one possibility. However this would multiply an already chaotic catalogue. In all likelihood the buyer will find the generic SIM Free listing and choose from the private low volume sellers for whom making a catalogue entry “error” has no impact. A good argument would be to put the network in the condition note i.e. the seller generated description for the item, or would it…

3) Condition Notes

…Buyers don’t read the seller generated condition note. On eBay this is a classic very low percentage problem, but on Amazon it is rife. Statistically we have found that as many as 10% of buyers don’t SEE the detailed condition description. This is a system error, but sadly not one which Amazon feels is important. The detailed description is hidden away on the right hand side and even requires a click to read most of the text. For used items, detailed condition is vital.

Consumer Electronics on Play.com

Let’s hope Play.com can learn from these failings. Current performance shows they are doing very well at making descriptions prominent but caught napping when it comes to catalogue naming convention and search relevance. Have a quick search on play.com for “ipad 2 64gb” and try to believe your eyes.

Rant over!

  • 9 years ago

    On the locked/unlocked side of things, could they create variations so the buyer selects which one they require? If they only showed the parent page in search then it could be a solution?

    I’m looking at Play.com for a client and Play don’t currently have a specific relevant catalogue for the clients products. Bizarrely, Play.com told me to first see if any other sellers of similar lines had listed, and if so categorise them the same, or failing that, put them wherever I thought – lets hope we see a little more organisation than that in the future!

    • 9 years ago

      They could create a “variations option” on one catalogue entry yes but how this is implemented is important. The key really to come up with SOMETHING rather than let sellers cope with the mess and frantically try to keep their metrics in check without any margin for error on things that actually do go wrong unavoidably!

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