With 2016 sales revenue reaching $136 billion from over 300 million customer accounts, Amazon is the clear front-runner in the world of e-commerce. Millions of businesses use Amazon Marketplace to sell more than 2 billion products. Of those marketplace sellers, 2 million of them account for 40% of the sales transacted via Amazon. (In fact, you can get the latest on all Amazon statistics from WallstreetZen in their full report: Amazon Statistics and Facts.)
With such high volume sales, and in this age of instant communication, you’d think it would be easy for sellers and buyers to communicate with each other. Well, it is and it isn’t. Amazon’s buyer-seller message system has its benefits and shortcomings. The terms of service say that, when using that buyer-seller message service, a seller can’t promote products, upsell, advertise, tell the customer to call directly, or link to its company website. Going against the TOS is never a good idea.
It’s common sense business practice for Amazon to limit buyer-seller message capabilities. The e-commerce giant has become enormously successful by being the ‘middleman’. It’s like a wholesaler. It will lose big money and market share by allowing buyers and sellers unfettered communication and therefore to conduct transactions privately.
But the big disadvantages are that its messaging system is laborious and does not provide you with statistics.
So, what do you do when your business needs to communicate more with buyers and to analyze those communications for strategic purposes? You can do a great deal that is above board on Amazon if you know how and have the right tools.
Amazon says its buyer-seller message restrictions are for security. While they do provide some, the main result is to separate a seller from customers, which can be frustrating when all you want to do is provide the best customer service you can and have no intention of going against Amazon. (After all, using them for your business brings success!) Amazon creates two randomized email addresses for each person so all messages go through it first, thereby making Amazon the midway clearing house. Amazon claims this filters out spam. It can also archive messages, in case there is ever a dispute.
If you’re not using your personal e-mail address for messages with your customers, it’s a simple process to open your seller account, click on ‘Manage Orders’, click on the order you’re looking for, click the name of the buyer in the ‘Contact Buyer’ options, then compose a message.
From your personal email, you must still use the buyer’s encrypted e-mail provided by Amazon.
But this situation still leaves your hands somewhat tied.
Are There Any Benefits?
The Amazon buyer-seller message system can certainly protect smaller companies from predatory buyers (who cause trouble that can ruin a business), fake buyers, and phishing scams. Amazon can even step in to resolve disputes using the information it collects.
The messaging system bears some similarities to regular email and allows you to create templates, send attachments, and access some metrics for response time. You can even use HTML to place a logo in your message signature.
There’s a Way to Get More – Much More
The Amazon buyer-seller messages system may have its uses for small companies. But for large volume sellers, dealing with each message manually and one at a time is restrictive and time-consuming.
What you can do is use an email seller tool without breaking the TOS. With such software, you can send an email to a buyer automatically after every purchase. You can schedule and send a sequence of emails, even customizing each message according to specific products and brands. The right software will enable you to create/use multiple templates customized by product, set send delays, sort/filter emails, include attachments, and more. On top of that, you can handle refund communications easily, even access statistics about each template or customer or product email… all without defying Amazon and ensuring all sales continue being conducted through Amazon (not privately).
All emails generated by an automated email tool still go through Amazon’s system (so using links remains forbidden). Nonetheless, that tool can be a huge asset in your business’s quest to use Amazon – and its buyer-seller messaging – to maximum effect and with maximum efficiency.
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