Some of you might know that I run my own company, and we have Amazon.com as an outlet for our awesome products. In 2011 we decided early on that we wanted to use
FBA, Fulfillment By Amazon for our products that were top selling to help customers who were upset about the shipping prices. We really thought that we would see a huge bump in sales, and a lot of happy customers. We really thought we were about to embark on the right thing, and we were even talking to an Amazon FBA rep who was very cool and walked us through a lot of stuff.
We duly picked and pulled and packed our stuff and sent it on down to Amazon’s Phoenix Warehouse and were excited because this was going to be awesome. Here is a chance for us to take advantage of Amazon’s ability to do combined postage, and life would be wonderful. We really thought at that point that we were going to do our customers this amazingly good deal, and that everyone would win, happy customers, happy company, happy Amazon.
What happened out of that was a nightmare that lasted nine months as we realized that Amazon’s customers are different than our customers on Amazon. We are a very niche market, and we have very loyal customers via Amazon. We love our customers and our customers expect a very high level of service, packing and shipping that we are more than happy to provide. Amazon was not, as more and more returns for damaged product, without us knowing what was going on. More and more negative and neutral feedback like we have never ever seen in our company’s history started to roll in, complaints, anger, and the growing realization that Amazon did not love our company as much as we loved it. While we did see an increase in sales for those products, the damage that negative and neutral feedback did to us we are still recovering from, and took the better part of a year to bury the neutrals that Amazon would not remove. The good part is that for the most part Amazon did remove the negative feedback, but only upon my request, and only after on average 48 hours after the feedback was left. It was a customer relations nightmare.
Even our FBA guy stopped calling and talking to us.
We went into the belly of the beast, and it was ugly from a customer happiness viewpoint. We ended this experiment in FBA, and eventually pulled everything from Amazon or let it sell out without us sending them anything else.
Over the last couple of days we got a survey from Amazon asking us for our opinion on FBA. The bad part is that it was not really a survey that would let us tell them what we needed to tell them. Rather it was a more generic why you are not using the service any more, focusing more on costs of the service than anything else. Making customers happy is part of the cost process, but I really wanted a text box where I could sit down and write all this out. How Amazon’s core customers are very different in expectations from our core customers all on the same platform. While FBA might work for some things, it did not work for my product, and here is my hypothesis on the issue.
It was a meaningless survey.
It did not allow for customer interaction, there was almost no place to talk about my issues with FBA. Really this was a feel good survey for Amazon. Meaningless, valueless, meant to make managers happy and not really address any real issues with specific customers.
I am more than happy to talk to Amazon, but I don’t think I’ll take any more surveys from them. I love what I do, and early on Amazon was our key sales platform, but we have diversified into other platforms that are outperforming Amazon right now. We love Amazon, but as we grow bigger we have better things to do than take a survey that is a management exercise in feel good politics.
If Amazon really wants to know what we are thinking about FBA, maybe our FBA guy can call us someday and find out what we really think. In the meantime, pointless and useless B2B surveys on why business customers do not do something are on my list of things not to do again.
- Amazon FBA 101 – Why It Will Work For You (outright.com)
- Amazon’s user survey hints AWS datacenter in India, interesting aint it ?? (techbangalore.com)
- Amazon Sellers Complain (webpronews.com)
(Cross-posted @ Techwag)