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Ecommerce and Aftermarket Sales

Two slashdot forums (a?) about ecommerce, paypal, google, etc.

My thoughts:

First, we need to differentiate between aftermarkets for content and aftermarket for goods. The market for used CD’s, DVD’s etc. thrive because content creators haven’t figured out a way to distribute exclusively digital content (see my post on the subject) . This aftermarket will disappear fairly soon (with ebooks and stricter DRM control), leaving only those people with physical objects to sell.

Second, leaving aside for the moment, ebay’s customer service problem, there is a great need for services that can offer lower transaction fees. I recently noticed that amazon.com was shipping a paperback book with $4.49 shipping costs.

Third, neither amazon.com nor ebay do a particularly good job of reputation management. As one poster suggested, someone at ebay can sell hundreds of cheap used DVDs, acquire a great reputation, and then start selling nonexistent camcorders and laptops (leaving town before anyone figures things out). Reputation management systems need to give weighted scores based on size of transactions as well as volume.

Fourth, amazon.com and ebay need to lighten up about linking offsite. Small independent ecommerce sellers enjoy the control over their catalog offered in their own domain. Also, it allows the vendor to sell other things, offer discounts and have direct communication with the customer. Often, while buying things used on amazon.com or half, I think to myself, “Amazon, really has nothing to do with this transaction. I need more information about the seller itself, less about Amazon. On an independent’s website, consumers can view good customer service affiliations (often hyperlinked on their home page). This builds confidence. Relying on only amazon or ebay’s statistics on reputation is not reliable enough. There are many ways to game one system but it has harder to game several.

Fifth, I’m beginning to think that there will be healthy demand for identity verification. We can’t know anybody from Adam, but reliable third party information brokers could be used by two parties to verify identities, bank accounts and physical location. One service I think has a lot of potential is typekey, a Six Apart service that holds your credential for a certain purpose. I’m willing to bet that this type of service, if crossplatform and developed enough, could prove to be more valuable than their premier product, movabletype.

Sixth, auctions really suck. Maybe for a while they sucked, but variable pricing is not something ordinary consumers want to play around with. Gamblers and wildcatters, perhaps. Auctions came close to working only if the consumer could actually find items in their search-engines. Nowadays they can’t, (and froogle can often reveal sellers with cheaper prices and better reputations).

Seventh, the S & H runaround. Everyone knows that these things provide hefty profit for the ecommerce site. That’s fine. But amazon (and probably other sites) are intentionally hiding shipping costs from consumers until the consumer goes to check out. This is dirty business, akin to all the penalty traps credit card companies set for unsuspecting customers. I pray for more transparency in ecommerce.

Eight, turnkey ecommerce solutions are becoming much cheaper, although system administration is NOT. Locally, in Houston, for example, a computer store named directron.com has a build-to-order system that rivals Dell’s. Yes, it has flaws, and is sometimes hard to navigate, but its basic functionality is not too much different from Dell.

Nineth, as I point out in my amazon.com/chump change article cited above, micropayments/tipjars are extremely affordable and easy to manage. Quite frankly, I can’t believe these things haven’t taken off! (And I’ve already refuted the typical reasons why people think they are doomed to fail tijpar topic at length already)

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