Need An Alternative to eBay and Half.com? Try Amazon Marketplace
Feb 23, 2003
It was only a matter of time before someone else gave Half.com some competition and giant e-tailer Amazon decided to be the one to do it.
Who Is Amazon?
I just know that there isn't a person alive who hasn't shopped there but just in case....
Amazon opened their online store in 1995 and targeted their sales to media items. Over time, they have gone from a private to a public company and have acquired many more different "stores" in which you can peruse and spend to your heart's content. If you need it, chances are, Amazon sells it.
Sometime after eBay hit it big (1999?), Amazon launched their own version of an auction site. Although it has a fair amount of transactions, it never came close to the success of eBay.
Now, at least a year after eBay's sister company made a name for itself (Half.com), Amazon is again challenging the giant.
Will the be a formidable competitor? Only time will tell.
What Is Amazon Marketplace?
If you're familiar with Half.com then you're many steps ahead of other people.
Amazon Marketplace is a service within the Amazon site that allows you to sell new or gently used items like cd's, dvd's, books, and many more items. Unlike a traditional auction site, you list your item, indicate the condition and price, and then fees are only assessed to you if you actually sell it.
The Details of Being A Seller
How do you become a seller? It's pretty easy. First, sign yourself up with Amazon. If you already have an account, you've already accomplished much of the work.
Second, one of the conditions of taking part of this service is that you must register for something called Amazon Payments. You enter a valid credit card number, your phone number, and an id in which you wish to be recognized by when you buy and/or sell, your checking account number and an "agreement" that you must electronically agree to before the account is activated.
Third, you list your items. Current categories include - Books, Music, Video, DVD, Video Games, Software/Computer Games, Camera, Electronics, Kitchen, Tools, and Outdoor Living. You can either enter the ISBN/UPC/ASIN or a keyword of the item. You then enter the condition of the product - New, Used - Like New, Used - Very Good, Used - Good, Used - Acceptable, Collectible - Like New, Collectible - Very Good, and Collectible - Good, Collectible - Acceptable.
It's a shame that toys or clothing aren't listed here but maybe they'll get around to adding those categories later.
Something you can do before listing your item is make a short statement (200 characters or less) in a free form text area.
Before you enter a price, Amazon Marketplace tells you how much the product sells for new on Amazon, the prices (and number available) of competing Marketplace prices, and what the recommended price is based upon the condition you listed. All of this comes in handy so that you don't out price yourself.
They ask that you provide what zip code the item will be shipped from and what type of shipping you'll be honoring. Your only choices are Standard ($2.26 credit), International ($8.95 credit) or Expedited ($5.05 credit). That amount is tacked on to the price of your product so that the buyer ends up paying for it.
Worried about the fees you'll have to pay? Like Half.com, at Amazon Marketplace you get charged a commission (15% here) + they charge you an additional 99 cents but remember - not until the sale is made.
Before you hit that button to list your item, Amazon Marketplace gives you a summary of what your listing, the total price and what you'll end up with in the end, should it actually sell. I really like this feature that isn't currently available at Half.com.
Once you hit the button to list it, Amazon Marketplace sends you an email confirmation and your product is promised to be listed with one day. The handful of times that I have listed something, it has shown up amazingly fast (under an hour).
When you've sold your product, Amazon Marketplace sends you an email and transfer your earnings to your Marketplace account. You are required to ship within two days of the notification and a link is provided to you in which to leave feedback for the buyer.
I've sold six items so far on Amazon Marketplace and have had no issues with any of the buyers. Bot that I expected any :).
At the end of every two weeks, Amazon Marketplace credits your checking account with any sales you made over the past period.
The Details of Being A Buyer
If you visit Amazon looking for something, chances are, someone is selling that something on Amazon Marketplace. On the right side of the product screen, Amazon indicates that you can jump right into the listing on Marketplace to see who is selling what, in what condition, and for how much.
Each seller has a rating based upon 1 to 5 stars (with 5 stars being the best). Along with the overall rating are individual comments and individual ratings by those who have purchased something by the seller. Just like with eBay and Half.com, the buyer can leave a comment to support their rating.
When you go to purchase something that's listed on Amazon Marketplace, you just add it to your cart and check out just like you would on the regular Amazon side of the site. In fact, you can add and checkout with Marketplace items and Amazon new items without having to do anything special.
As the buyer, you'll receive email notification of your purchase and a link to the buyer's feedback page (fill it out after you receive the product!).
I've purchased only twice from Amazon Marketplace and both times, I had very positive experiences. If I had not, Amazon Marketplace does provide the buyer with protection. If after 30 days, you do not receive your item, you may file a claim and receive your money back (up to $2500).
And The Verdict - How Does Amazon Marketplace Measure Up Against Half.com?
In my opinion, pretty well.
Fees: Winner - Half.com charges at the most, a 15% commission (it gets smaller the higher priced your item is). Amazon Marketplace charges 15% + 99 cents.
Inventory: Winner - Half.Com by just a hair. Although Amazon Marketplace has a ton of inventory, their product selection is missing a couple of key areas like toys and clothing.
Customer Service: Winner - Amazon Marketplace actually answers email from customer service. I have yet to receive a reply from Half.com on a technical issue I was having with my account.
Seller Payment Credits: Winner - tie. Both Amazon Marketplace and Half.com make deposits to your checking account twice a month.
Convenience: Winner - Amazon Marketplace. I am much more likely to visit Amazon the web site then eBay or Half.com. While I'm there and looking for things to buy, if I see there are used versions of it, I'm very likely to go take a look.
If you haven't had a chance to check out Amazon Marketplace, do so the next time you're in the market to buy or sell something.
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