Last week, I discussed an Amazon amendment to sellers’ shipping instructions where telephone numbers have been added to the list of required contact details from customers.
This has recently proved very useful when buyers have placed orders with incorrect address details as I was able to ring up customers, speak to them directly and quickly sort out the issue.
Frustratingly, many buyers do not read emails. And so this is another reason why this update has proved useful.
There has been another amendment which could have far-reaching implications for sellers… it could even cause chaos!
Customers are afforded much shorter estimated delivery times than previously… as much as five days earlier! What’s more, the time of delivery does not start from when a product is dispatched, but when the order is placed.
Now, if you sell your own books off the shelf and deal with orders within 24 hours of them arriving in your inbox, you should have little to fear.
However, many sellers use suppliers to fulfil orders – and that adds time to how orders are processed, with a subsequent impact on delivery times.
Plus, many sellers receive hundreds – if not thousands – of orders per day. They need the two business day period to process orders in a routine fashion.
Of course, this also affects delivery time. And some large sellers are able to offer cheaper rates using couriers through the sheer volume of parcels they send out.
This possibly involves a slower delivery period that slotted into the longer estimated delivery time scale easily, but perhaps not so much within the timeframe of the shorter one.
Many sellers also had the advantage, due to the longer estimated delivery time, of buyers using expedited shipping.
The value of expedited shipping
Expedited shipping’s worth to sellers is quite considerable compared to standard shipping credit. So one result of a lower expected time period for delivery will be fewer expedited orders due to many buyers being more content with the shorter estimated delivery time.
Any reduction in expedited orders, which as said can be a lucrative option, will be a big loss I am sure.
I suspect, too, that lower value books will perhaps no longer have any fiscal advantage if the only way profits are made is through cheaper postage rates for slower delivery times from couriers.
Employing more delivery drivers and staff to process orders quickly will not result in extra orders, just more costs.
I really hope I am not inundated with unhappy customers asking why their books have not been received on time due to slower delivery times over the Christmas period.
I frequently use suppliers to fulfil orders. I’ll have to adjust my working practices for sure. I often make the most of the two day processing time (four days over the weekend) to spread the time for fulfilling orders.
And so I’m going to ensure – where possible – all books go out on the same day as they are purchased to allow my supplier a couple of days to process my orders. That’s the only way I can be sure customers receive their orders within Amazon’s time directive.
And it is time that will tell how this change pans out. I suspect many customers complained the estimated time period was far too long.
However, I also think most customers receive their books much quicker than is estimated anyway. And so that means should items be held up in the post, buyers will be complaining their books haven’t turned up much sooner than previously.
So let’s look at some knock-on effects:
– Having to send out replacement books could prove costly
– Doling out refunds could prove costly
– The potential for increased negative feedback from irate customers is not only annoying, but could prove costly in the long run
Sometimes opportunities come with adversity. Perhaps big sellers will find this change too difficult and costs will rise.
If this results in larger book merchants folding, which is a very real threat, then smaller sellers such as you and I will be able to price books at a higher level.
As truth be told, it has usually been these larger sellers that drive prices down.
Perhaps I am mistaken and all will be okay.
If there is less competition, maybe prices will increase and customers might be swapping longer estimated delivery times for more expensive products driven by less competition!
But like I said earlier, time (and timings!) will tell…