What did selling on Amazon used to be like?--that is, "back in the day."


I have been selling since 2003, very profitable until goodwill listings and automatic pricing software and excessive fees were added. Amazon used to be about 90% of my online income now it’s less than 5%


Amazon sucks - eBay is a 5 star site!


Well you know I have been selling since 2005. Back then your account had a lot of freedom as a new seller. Amazon did not hold your funds like they do now. A lot of website changes which was kind of frustrating but you could adapt very quickly. No restrictions on what you could sell as far as intellectual property rights etc. The bad part of listing inventory was back then they would have a two month active life span and then the listings would expire. Then you would have to re-list them again, very time consuming. Seller support was not there for you and that has not changed. The scams come and go just like today. But the good thing is, it is probably less than one percent of sales where scams occur. It all depends on what your selling. It is mostly on items that are either super sought after or what is popular, new and what is in demand today. Seller support does not have at all any third party seller experience so that is bad. Even your veteran well respected seller status doesn’t even matter to them. The past was the same. Ebay has your back about 90% of the time. If you have a great selling track record history, Ebay will stand up for you. The thing that separates ebay vs amazon. Amazon you can sell certain items for a lot more money vs ebay. Because of the customer trust with the amazon website. You are selling on a site with a high reputation. Ebay has a lot more competition with third party sellers because they don’t have as many rules, anything goes pretty much. Amazons failed third party sellers are ebay sellers. Much stricter standards on selling on amazon because you are selling a reputation.


Not looking back in rose colored glasses, but I actually remember huge rebates - yes, gifts of money Amazon used to randomly give sellers. I always considered it a blessing and a bonus. I remember customer service having and actually using “tools” on the front line to help the sellers that served to build all of Amazon’s listings…, They listened and reasoned with you, they could evaluate “other” or “special circumstances” outside of a set list of feedback guidelines and actually helped sellers instead of saying 1. They no longer have tools. 2. They no longer have any power. 3. They no longer can help, but they certainly understand. I think it’s ironic the “Concerned Teams” are named that. Just fluff. For the most part, they really seem cold, aloof, robotic, non-existent and totally unconcerned. As a seller, my stomach sinks whenever I have a cheating, unscrupulous buyer who gets around the feedback guidelines with Amazon’s “help” and seemingly “support” as they get a free pass to kick the cat (hurt us because they’re foul). Yet — with piss poor customer service, with totally useless customer service on the front lines (they can’t do anything beyond being a Walmart greeter) Amazon is an awesome place to do business. And make no mistake – I never expected those huge refunds or bonuses to last – but I had always thought and prayed REAL customer service would get better. It never did. It’s abysmal.


Back in 2001-2002 I could just spend 1 afternoon a week at garage sales for inventory enough to make a good living - before the mega-sellers got going.


Started selling in 2002. Back then, my minimum price on a used book/CD was $7.99. I am slowly changing that to $9.99, due to increased postage costs & increased Amazon commission. My net profits have plummeted in the last 2 yr, as I’ve been slow to raise my prices. I no longer sell international, unless the sales price is near $100, in which case, I take a did because of the cost of International Airmail. I’m barred from selling DVDs & popular CDs. Classical/international CDs do continue to sell. In 2017, I may have broken even. With almost 10,000 books (many unique items) listed, I’m not a pro-seller because of the low volume of sales.


I attempted to sell on here maybe in about 2005-2007. I listed about 50 obscure music CDs and 2 months later, none sold and I would have had to relist all of them. I walked. I came back in fall 2010 to sell some obscure VHS tapes and did much better then and the listings didn’t expire.

Back in the earlier days, fewer products had a product page so it was more difficult to get listings on here if you didn’t have a barcode on them (I sell used items). Now I can usually find a page for most items so getting things on here is much better, except how there are brands/categories/products that are quite difficult to get approved for. (lets say I come across a used Pioneer 6 CD magazine for a stereo - can’t sell it because I can’t get approved for Pioneer)


In 2005, Sold Ship Now emails had the condition and comments and a plain text packing slip without them, the recipient’s address as “shipping label,” and the buyer’s real email address as the “reply-to.”

The funds would already be in your seller account when you got the email. In orders, there was no “print packing slip.” There was no “cancel,” only “refund,” because the customer was already charged.

Shipping confirmation was you sending your own email directly to the customer.

You could get Amazon to remove obscene feedback, but you were stuck with it if it was just clearly and entirely a bad product review.


I had forgotten about the big change in the Sold Ship Now notices.

I had my database programed to capture the info from that email to generate an invoice/shipping label.


If the good people would only leave feedback to help offset the scammers, etc.


ebay since 1998 here since 2009. ebay had some bad years from 2010 until 2015 the ceo Donahoe nearly singlehandedly killed the company by driving off sellers with attempts at making it like Amazon. Their philosophy was sellers are a dime a dozen and can always be replaced. Starting with Meg Whitman they said buyer traffic brings the sellers. Well in 2015 they were nosediving as buyers left in droves because many sellers offering unique items were gone. The new ceo to his credit has recognized the problem and has done well correcting it.

Amazon has been a mixed bag. Back in the day you could look forward to being suspended by rogue bots for nebulous reasons and losing sleep and sales over it. It has become more stable in the last year or so. It has also become more restrictive in categories and brands. So the opportunities for sales have dwindled for smaller sellers.


Over the years we always felt that Amazon’s liberal refund policies, encouraged and promoted customer fraud. Slowly, they have to begun to tighten up the process realizing that there are customers who are only out to scam sellers. For a long time, Amazon was the only mail order company that did not accept a scanned delivered item as actually delivered. That policy change in May 2016, was a massive step in the right direction. :train2:


I’ve sold on Amazon many years as a private seller. What I have really noticed is that my sales are much lower due to the incredible prices Amazon Prime can give its customers; there is no way I can compete, most of the time, with Amazons prices. Now, as a very happy Amazon Prime customer, I love this…as a seller, not so much. Amazon is definitely incredible when it comes to customer support and that is why I buy here without worry; but, of course, my customers expect to use things as gifts and then return them after more than a month…returns are definitely higher. As far as undelivered items; as a customer, I have often not gotten what I pay for. It is funny that even the shipping services, knowing of Amazons policies, seem to snatch our items…so our customers are not always lying when they say they did not get items that show as delivered. What I really have noticed is the downturn of sales between November and March, which used to be incredible on toys, have plummeted; but this is true on other markets as well. I still love it here; but more as a customer than seller


Yeah I used to ship everything except the most cheap paperbacks priority mail flat rate. I actually had to get a Rate and Rules hearing to get my local PO to accept flat rate envelopes where the shipping label was over the flap. They want to reject them because putting the label over the flap was “modification” of the envelope.


The rules are much tighter now, and there’s much more you need to know to avoid the pitfalls.

In the mid-2000s I worked for an online bookseller. His instructions were to list against the most popular product page for the book we had, regardless of whether or not it matched, and use the condition notes to indicate when we were selling an outdated edition, or even a completely different book by the same author. Needless to say, we got a lot complaints from angry customers who thought they were buying the book that Amazon was selling, and not the 1927 version of the textbook they needed for class. My job was to accept the return with a restocking fee, while lecturing the customer about the importance of reading condition notes.

He was too cheap to pay for delivery confirmation, which turned out to convenient, as his shelving system was so disorganized that we routinely failed to locate at least 25% of our orders. Our process was to confirm shipment, then take turns looking for missing books. When the customer would start to complain, my job was to repeatedly assure them that their book had shipped and was merely slow in the mail. If we couldn’t find the book before the customer finally lost patience (typically, one month), we’d begrudgingly issue a refund, claiming that the book had been lost in transit.

If a book actually was lost in the mail, however, my instructions were to tell the customer “tough luck,” and complain that Amazon didn’t give them an option to buy insurance, like on eBay. I hated that my job was to lie and cheat, and ultimately left for this reason.

The metrics system was implemented to prevent these kind of shenanigans, which is good, but of course it creates a lot of stress if you’re a low volume seller vulnerable to a run of bad luck. And this, of course, was before intellectual property was being policed as zealously as it is today, so you also have that to run afoul of.

The money, of course, was better because you were buying from (and competing against) people who didn’t use computers and were slow to understand that you could sell things on the Internet. Today, of course, it’s hard to find an auction where everyone hasn’t looked up everything online prior to bidding.


Things I miss about the old days:

  • Media mail rate $1.63 for one pound - although it didn’t include tracking.
  • Lower Amazon fees - which meant it was possible to make profit off a $5 book. No longer!
  • Individual seller listings expiring after 60 days - because it was a great reminder to cull or reprice.
  • The ability to send my own personalized “your package has been sent” email, because I think it helped build a relationship with the customer. If they knew there was a person on the other end of the deal, not just some faceless company, it made things go more smoothly.
  • The ability to sell DVDs. I buy a lot fewer of them now because there’s no market for getting rid of the ones I change my mind on (but that’s not just Amazon).


I find mostly squeakers and scammers buying on Amazon these days. We’ve reduced what we sell on Amazon substantially and new products are not being added to the catalog. Between scamming buyers, Amazon not following their own policies which screws us sellers, and the added burden of complying with policy, it’s not as profitable here as it used to be. For us, Amazon has steadily grown to become the leader in headaches by a long shot. Amazon has/is driven many USA based sellers out, while opening up more warehouses to stock goods sent in from Chinese based sellers. Foreign sellers often have far cheaper labor rates and better margins than American businesses which is why they are better prepared to absorb the losses from scamming buyers, etc.


-Profitability: i guess it depends on what you sell. i went from books to high end computer parts ($200-$2000). i’m doing very well.

-Shipping (cost and accessibility): shipping rates keep going up, but it doesn’t affect me as much because i am a low volume, high profit margin business.

-Seller Support: amazon support in general went from being useless to doing more harm than good. they tell buyers to open A-Z claims for random junk, like when the customer changes their mind about a purchase or wants to price match AFTER buying something.

-Buyers: international buyers who ship to freight forwarders are driving me insane. one of them wanted me to provide a return label FROM RUSSIA! and gave me a 1 star rating when i told them i couldn’t. seller support basically told me to take it like a man.

-Payment structure(s): waiting two weeks to be paid is irritating, especially when you are floating $50,000+ balances. nothing we can do about that.

-VS eBay: i’m shifting more of my business to ebay. their seller support got WAY better, without a doubt better than amazon. and they are Americans who speak English!

-Anything else that comes to mind!: the Asian invasion. china sellers hijacking listing of items that has immaculate reviews and start selling garbage masked as quality items. since i have shifted to high end electronics that require explicit permission from the manufacturer to sell, this hasn’t affected me as seller, but definitely affected me as a buyer. i stopped shopping on amazon.


I’ve been selling 99.9% books since 2002. Biggest difference is I used to make good extra money - maybe 300 to 400 a month without doing much besides listing carefully.

I remember it was July, in 2011 or 2012 when the lights went out. One month I made $7. What most of us didn’t know was that that was when Amazon started to use robots for FBA and really parade FBA as a cool way to store your books. I never recovered after FBA ruined the book market.

I tried FBA starting last fall, and it’s been a waste of time, with fees that make you feel like you’re being scammed, and faulty interfaces, unbelievable mistakes at the warehouses, etc. I think I have about 50 books left there after I just paid them to destroy a bunch.

Other points:

  1. They are a lot easier to list now
  2. I have learned that I have to bow my head and lower lower lower my prices constantly. I used to get 25, 30, 40 easily. Now, rarely.
  3. I’m more wary of buyers. My one piece of software and a rare video game both attracted fraudulent buyers who use then want to return. Amazon used to support sellers, but no more.
  4. I’m culling hundreds of books. Amazon has lost about 15% of my listings. They have also lost photos, keywords, descriptions of any used books over 10 years old. The catalog dept has no explanation.
  5. The no description for New media is a disaster. No one wants to buy something with just a one word description. Book buyers, in particular LIKE TO READ. I get a lot of New books from publishers, so it’s very distressing.
  6. Books don’t sell on ebay! I guess I’m listing the wrong things. I see the major bookseller listing every book at 3.73 Nice profit there.


More Feedback… Your “Store” had more functions …

There have always been lowballers… Perhaps more sales…But the on and off again was still an issue…
Fees were lower so you could reduce prices and still make a few dollars…