You don’t work in a vacuum. So when you experience customer service issues with a vendor, inevitably it’s going to trickle down and affect the customer service you provide to your customers. This not only hurt your profits, but in the worst case can potentially put you out of business. That’s what some small businesses that sell on the Amazon Marketplace are saying about changes the 800-pound gorilla of e-commerce has made over the past 18 months.
Amazon charges third-party sellers a percentage of every sale, and its “Fulfillment by Amazon” service also handles shipping and even customer service for sellers. But the fees for both have risen in the past year and a half, prompting many sellers to complain that they’ll either need to raise prices or leave Amazon for alternatives like eBay.
Third-party sellers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Providing their own customer service and fulfillment is more difficult (and could cause customer service standards to slip)—but paying higher prices to have Amazon handle it is cutting into profits.
What’s the lesson here? Know the price you’ll pay—both in dollars and in flexibility—when you make any outside vendor part of your customer service team, and be sure to develop a Plan B (or C) for how you’ll handle unexpected changes to their service offerings or fees.
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