Welcome back to our fortnightly roundup of the best bits of news from the ecommerce industry. This week, Amazon make headlines for an awkward reason, retailers are guilty of not knowing their customers, and the best (or biggest) eBay sellers get ranked.
74% of consumers surveyed said they wanted free shipping as the most important delivery offering from retailers. Only 24% of the retailers thought this would be the top priority.
Glaringly, the survey notes that 44% of customers would go to marketplaces for convenience over a retailer - who for their part, failed to acknowledge the importance of delivery speed. Only 29% of them understood that 1 and 2-day shipping is an essential offering.
Perhaps that's because of one more important disconnect - 75% of customers surveyed said they'd pay more for faster shipping, compared to 25% of retailers who believed they would. There may be a case of saying one thing and doing another when it comes to surveys such as this, but as Amazon's Prime program is capably demonstrating, customers love rapid and free delivery even if they pay for it in some other way.
Andy Geldman of Web Retailer has produced a massive compilation of the top 1000 eBay sellers in the last 12 months (ranked by positive feedbacks received). As he notes, this is not a direct revenue approximation - it's much more closely tied to volume of units sold, which naturally favors businesses selling lower value items.
Disclaimer aside, it's an interesting insight into the way in which businesses are serious about using eBay as a sales channel.
39% of these sellers trade crossborder
Home & Garden is the most represented category for sellers in the top 1000
15 different categories were represented, from auto parts to collectibles to health and beauty products
China has the most sellers on the list, followed by the UK - the US trails in third
Amazon continues to march on established high end brands, adding Swarovski to its Amazon Fashion program. The release hints at Amazon's data crunching behind the scenes - Amazon Fashion Europe's VP notes "Amazon customers love Swarovski".
This information is presumably based on search and demand data Amazon has collected, and follows the pattern whereby the marketplace giant is able to persuade a major brand to allow its goods to be sold on Amazon in exchange for regaining an element of control as well as a huge digital foothold.
In perhaps overly stark terms, this piece makes the case that the model for online marketplace retail should be turned almost on its head - retailers becoming marketplaces, and brands becoming their own retailers.
Not a great headline for any business to feature in, this story surfaced when reporters found that Amazon's algorithmic recommendations for similar products and 'also purchased' products lead in some cases to explosive combinations of household items that could be used to create improvised bombs.
Amazon has said it will review the way products are surfaced to prevent this happening - though in reality this is probably simply a bad PR story rather than a genuine safety concern.
The last year has seen a rush of changes announced to the eBay platform, and as the marketplace continues to evolve in order to compete against the likes of Amazon and Walmart, it's not slowing the pace of change.
This time round, sellers are warned that any attempts to take transactions off-site are liable to result in selling penalties - this means no inclusion of contact details in listings (except under the business information section) and no passing contact details in messages.