It is an accepted fact that be it Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Shopclues, eBay, Paytm or AskMe, nearly all ecommerce firms are doing something wrong. From treatment meted out to merchants to unfair policies, the list of complaints is long and the scope for improvement is huge.
Having said that, are sellers (few, if not all) doing something wrong too? Since, a little introspection can’t harm anyone, we decided to unearth seller community’s some of the common mistakes and delusions. Call it a reality check that needs immediate attention, if you want your online business to reach great heights of success.
Not many like accountability, including marketplaces. Flipkart’s resistance to GST is good case in point.
But accountability is essential. Holding each party in the online selling chain responsible for their action is the only way to bring structure to the chaotic, ill-defined and constantly evolving ecommerce industry.
So if a seller feels that he/she shouldn’t be held responsible for the product/service quality they sell and instead manufacturers/marketplaces should be, then they are hoping too high. If vendors want marketplaces to function in their pure form, i.e. ‘just a mediator’ and not control their business, then it’s important that they take full charge of their business, including accountability.
This particularly applies to unauthorized resellers. If you are a reseller, specify that in your listings and neatly spell out the warranty/guarantee period. Source your products from trustworthy vendors. Offer after-sales service or at least offer to assist buyers instead of directing them straight to brand owners/ecommerce sites/manufacturers. Pay taxes and adhere to policies.
A former Amazon Seller Support Associate revealed interesting things in Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). ‘Formersesu’ spilled details about how sellers operate, including sense of entitlement complex.
“It frustrates me that many sellers approach selling on Amazon as if it were a fundamental human right. The bottom line is that Amazon is a business that will run however it sees fit. Amazon business teams make decisions based on data and prioritize revenue and customer experience above all else. If you don’t understand that Amazon does not care about helping your business if your business is not helping Amazon, you’re going to have a bad time. Many sellers want the visibility and benefits that come with selling on Amazon without understanding that that comes with upholding their end of the seller agreement that Amazon has built its reputation on.”
This applies to ALL marketplaces, not just Amazon. The problem starts when sellers feel “The ecommerce business exists ONLY because of ME.” The fact is that right from sellers, ecommerce firms, delivery partners and other tertiary ecommerce companies; they all have an interdependent relationship and should learn to co-exist without feeling superior or inferior. So stop feeling entitled, if you want to be successful.
We get it – it is frustrating to lose business through no fault of your own. It is frustrating to wait for weeks at end to get a resolution. But remember that seller support team of online marketplaces are not responsible for the policy changes, or suspensions.
The ecommerce policies and platform are constantly changing. And the seller support team is scattered across the country/world. Some suspensions are manual but most of them are automated. Therefore, there may be cases when an associate’s fault led to issues in your seller account. But using foul language, calling names and being extremely rude won’t help your case.
“Without a doubt, the biggest trend I saw was people writing in extremely rude cases and then repeatedly requesting phone calls, but seeing the case handled by multiple people and everyone was avoiding the call… I’m human. There are times when I could have helped a seller more, but I mostly just wanted to stop listening to them yell at me, so I would give a very canned answer to get them off the phone. Only be professional, it can only help. If you have negative feedback to submit, write out a logical complaint and it will get to the person or team at the root cause of the issue, but please don’t use Seller Support to vent,” wrote Formersesu.
Communicate what’s bothering you, what’s wrong in the system and what’s affecting your business, by all means. But do it in a polite, professional, patient and classy manner.
We have come across sellers that claim their account was suspended for selling fake products but they ‘weren’t aware of this rule’. But when and where selling counterfeit products was allowed? Ever?
The local markets are filled with ‘Puna’ (duplicate of Puma) and ‘Rebook’ (duplicate of Reebok), but we all know it is not and never was legal. So the question of ‘not being aware’ shouldn’t arise.
Online or offline, don’t sell fake products. It was never allowed on ecommerce sites and any violation of rule will eventually be caught, unless Goddess of luck and fortune is in your favour. But more often than not, sellers find themselves embroiled in a series of violations after one red flag as issues tend to snowball.
There, we said it.
The rule of business is EVERYONE is replaceable. And if you are a vendor that sells the same stuff as 1000 others then you can be easily replaced. Unless you deliver value of some kind to customers and marketplaces.
“The biggest mistake I believe online sellers are doing is not creating a competitive advantage also called a ‘moat’ in street terms. If you are selling some other brand’s products on someone else’s platform, you are putting your business at a great risk. Sellers should think about how they can differentiate in the marketplace. The differentiation can come from unique products, your own brand, your own platform or anything else,” declares online seller Yuvraj Wadhwani while speaking to Indian Online Seller.
“I think all brands should diversify their revenue sources. Marketplaces have their agenda and the seller’s/brand’s goal might not be the same. Just look at mobile phones. It’s one of the largest category (GMV) and many brands are tying up with marketplaces and selling directly”, adds Wadhwani.
It is a bitter pill to swallow but keep in mind that Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and others are loyal to their business and no one else. Introspect from time and time, as that’s the only way to learn and grow. Embrace changes instead of rejecting the idea outright. Be open to criticism and new ideas.
Be vocal about online marketplaces’ mistakes but don’t overlook your mistakes as well. Be comfortable with the changing dynamics of the ecommerce industry in India instead of complaining that ‘online selling is getting too complicated day-by-day’.