The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Amazon's SOLD, SHIP NOW notification e-mails

Amazon just revised the contents of their sale notification e-mails. They used to be fairly straightforward, containing the item details, the ship-to address, basic invoice information, plus the "reply-to" was set to go directly to the customer.

Now, because of some real or anticipated abuse of this info, the e-mails only contain an order ID number and pages of disclaimer info that is helpful to no one. A bookseller now needs to paste the ID # into the Amazon "Search Your Marketplace Orders" form and print the shipping information from there. This new confirmation process isn't much more difficult that ABE or Alibris (though at least those e-mails contain a unique link to the order) but you don't get the customer's e-mail address and that's a problem.

In the past my standard op in completing a sale was to send an e-mail thanking the customer, stating the expected shipping times, and of course flogging my bookstore. This final step headed off a lot of questions and gave the process a more human touch. I have no doubt that the new order process will degrade the used book shopper's experience and will cost me--and other "full service" booksellers--a lot of repeat sales. And if it costs me, it costs Amazon because used book sales, as a category, probably account for Amazon's highest profit margin. They don't have to buy these books, warehouse them, process the sales, nothing...they just take their eyeball tax (around 16-18% of each sale) straight to the bank.

I heard this was coming but it's going to be a mighty pain-in-the-ass. It's interesting that Amazon is going this route while Alibris--notorious for their Berlin wall between customer and bookseller--finally made direct communication possible.

Has anyone tried Amazon's dodgey sounding ASON (a windows application for downloading orders)? The last thing I need is another bloated, always-on application hogging my system resources.

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