Amazon has been on Australian shores for four months now, but one retailer claims the platform is “just all fizz and no substance”, citing a lack of page views and personal business support as reasons it will be sticking with eBay instead.
Michael Coates is the founder of Trike Bike, the largest seller of adult tricycles in Australia. The Gold Coast business has been operating for just over 10 years, selling tricycles that are designed to support the elderly, people with disabilities, or people with balance problems. The business has a physical shop front, as well as an e-commerce stores on eBay and Amazon.
“We’ve got a proper shopfront but our sales online through eBay have been very strong over the last eight or nine years,” Coates tells SmartCompany.
“We had online sales through our own website that initially did a lot better than eBay, but over time eBay became stronger than our website.”
When Amazon finally launched in Australia, Coates took the opportunity to establish an online shopfront with the retail giant. He hired a consultant for $3000 to set up the online shop, market the products and optimise sales online. However, the sales were far from successful.
“After about three months we hadn’t made any sales at all and it cost me quite a lot,” he says.
“The disappointing thing is I can handle not getting sales if it was a product no one wanted, but we’re just not getting traffic.”
Looking at the Amazon sales console, Coates could see that page views were dwindling, and customers weren’t landing on the right pages to see his products. Coates says his business is one of three vendors currently using the online space within his niche, however, his competitors are only selling one product online each, whereas Trike Bike sells 15 products.
In the four months Trike Bike has been open for business on Amazon, its highest view count on a single product has only reached 17 page views. Its Amazon site was not ranking in search engines either, unlike its eBay store front.
Coates contacted Amazon twice to enquire about the performance of the product listings on the site. Amazon responded with a generic email each time suggesting Coates lower the prices.
“I’ve written to them twice and get the standard reply, saying you’ve got to do this and do that but we used a consultant,” he says.
“When we kicked off on Amazon we had our products selling at a loss just to get sales on the board — and that didn’t even help.”
Coates doesn’t believe pricing is cause for concern, given Trike Bike’s retail success on eBay. The business currently pays $30 a month to list on Amazon, plus commissions on the sales it makes and is yet to make one sale.
It’s unclear whether Australian retailers across the board are experiencing the same issues that Coates is dealing with, but he says there is one significant difference between eBay and Amazon: the individual client service provided. Coates believes Amazon could do far more to support Australia retailers online.
“EBay has a thing called eBay concierge and I’ve asked them to contact me and they’d call you back. With Amazon, you’re on your own,” he says.
Coates says he’ll give Amazon a few more months before closing down the sales channel. But for his business, the return on investment simply isn’t as much as it’s hyped up to be.
SmartCompany has contacted Amazon Australia for comment.