October was the month of festive sales. Hundreds of products flied off the digital shelf daily and ecommerce biggies replaced every old sales record with new ones. But was it smooth sailing for sellers? No, it wasn’t.
From mounting advertising cost to high product returns, there was no dearth of issues. One such issue that vendors’ faced was difficulty in tracking their orders, particularly by those selling on Amazon.
Many were left wondering, “Where’s my product, Amazon?”
Glitches in Amazon’s tracking tool
While Amazon India is only a 3 year-old company, the parent company founded by Jeff Bezos has been around for over 2 decades. That’s why out of all the Indian ecommerce players, the American etailer seems to be the most organized, steady and reliable online marketplace.
But the screws of the most organized company came loose during the recent festive season sales. According to sellers, here’s a list of things what went wrong in Amazon’s shipment tracking system:
Inaccurate information about delivery status & reason for ‘order cancellation’
Fake ‘attempted delivery to customers’ updates
Inefficient Amazon Transportation Services (ATS)
Online seller Sachin Gala shares with Indian Online Seller (IOS) that he had never faced any problem related to tracking at Amazon but last month during the festive season, the etailer couldn’t handle the huge load.
“Consumers were mailing us asking about delivery time and why delivery is delayed as tracking tool of Amazon was not providing accurate info of product for some orders. For some orders it was showing as ‘delivery attempted’ whereas consumer was claiming “no one called or came to our home to deliver product”. In this case, we are at loss as we have to bear one side shipping charges even when the consumer has not cancelled the order,” says Gala.
The etailer failed at tracking return shipments correctly
Bharat Lohiya from Raghavjee sarees shared the above ‘Amazon tracking update’ image with IOS.
“This parcel was delivered to me at 2 pm, 17th October 2016. But it was marked as ‘returned to seller’ on 13th itself. They do not have a clear policy of claim duration ‘from’ time i.e., from when should we calculate the time of a parcel marked return which has not been delivered. They also do not provide a weekly report of the parcels delivered during that week, so that we can tally in our records and report it,” says Lohiya.
He further added that how the marketplace does not have any tool for sellers to generate reports, which makes payment reconciliation a strenuous task.
“In another instance, 1 parcel is marked as returned to seller. While customer said he is happy with the product, which means he has received and used the product. The customer also shared product images with me. But easy ship tracking system says it has been delivered to the seller as customer has rejected it. The ticket is raised for more than 20 days now without any concrete resolution,” Lohiya adds.
Amazon Transportation Services (ATS) led to most problems?
The Bezos-founded company launched Easy Ship in India for sellers to deliver products in over 19,000 pin codes using Amazon Transportation Services (ATS) and other delivery partners like Bluedart. But ATS failed to deliver its promise, which led to order cancellations.
“Cancelled orders are not beneficial for anyone, not for Amazon and not for us… Now what happened last month (festive sale) is ATS was not able to provide tracking info to consumers, not calling consumers before attempting delivery, not re-attempting delivery in case of ‘door close’ situations. This eventually turned in to order cancellation and due to this our order cancellation rate has increased to 8-10 % for last month. We have escalated this issue to seller support team for reimbursement of shipping charges as we have dispatched product well in time and not delivered by ATS,” firmly states Gala.
But is Amazon the only marketplace that actively tries to resolves sellers’ issues?
Another seller VS (name withheld on request) had reached out to IOS and said that Amazon is duping sellers on last mile delivery. He talked about instances where Amazon’s tracking system showed ‘buyer refused delivery’, whereas customer said no delivery attempt was made. He said that the etailer isn’t transparent about product tracking details, not just for easy ship but even FBA fulfilled order and that the ATS team is really letting Amazon down.
“They give tracking details for Easy Ship Orders but for Amazon fulfilled orders … they don’t give you any tracking details of when it was packed, when did it reach customer, was the delivery attempted before or after the tentative date. No transparency there but they do charge us one way shipping for all orders that are dispatches irrespective of customer accepting or not,” reveals VS.
But things took a positive turn as the week progressed. VS received not one but two positive updates from Amazon, which addressed few of the ‘tracking shipments’ issues that he used to face.
First update was that Amazon would provide sellers tracking details for FBA orders as well, just like Easy Ship orders. Second update was – the marketplace has been mailing daily reports, which lists all the (previous day) pickup and orders returned.
After receiving the two new updates, IOS asked VS if Amazon actively tries to resolve seller issues compared to other marketplaces. He says,
“Yes, they do. It takes a bit of time. They can’t solve all at same time so some are done on priority while other see day light in months but sooner or later there’s always something. Communication with them as been always better than any other marketplace.”
This approach is refreshing because most of the marketplaces refuse to even acknowledge the sellers’ issues, let alone resolving it. But there’s still huge room for improvement when it comes Amazon’s shipment tracking tools.
What are sellers’ expectations?
According to vendors, Flipkart, Shopclues and IndiaRush have better tracking system than the American etailer. Here’s what they want Amazon to do:
Accurate tracking information
Agreeing to their mistakes and getting rid of the attitude that there can be no mistakes from their end
Allowing self-shippers to accept COD orders
Timely order reports (which is already improving as mentioned above)
Shouldn’t expect that sellers blindly trust their reimbursement policy
Work on its ATS team as they are not doing their job well (for e.g.: item is marked as ‘rejected by customer’ by ATS without making 3 delivery attempts as assured)
Be more transparent about the charges they are imposing on sellers
Would Amazon work on the above points laid out by sellers? Would they work on their tracking system as diligently as they work on their ‘consumer-centric’ approach? Sellers, what’s your review of Amazon’s shipment tracking platform?