Amazon Stores as Ecommerce Alternatives

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Did you know that Amazon has a hosted store solution? And that you can chose to have your store items listed in their Amazon search engine? Yep, it’s true. We recently completed two Amazon stores (one with a lot of products and one with just 4 products) and are now offering that as a service.

The big thing about the Amazon store is that Amazon processes the credit cards and periodically deposits money into your bank account. This means you don’t need a merchant account and you don’t have to hassle with credit card issues. Other stores like Yahoo! Store require you to process your own credit cards.

The price is currently $40/month plus processing fees on each order. Keep in mind that this is subject to change so you’ll want to go to Amazon and look up the price before you commit.

With the photos used in the stores they have a feature whereby you can upload a hi-resolution image and then the customer can zoom in to see a lot of detail. This will save time for you (or you web developer) since you won’t have to create additional close-up versions of the images to show important details.

Shipping is one challenge. Amazon doesn’t know about the rate tables for common shippers so you have to juggle item weights along with per-order and per-item (price per pound or flat rate) charges and hope to get it right on average. This can be an issue if you have a wide variety of products, and for some clients it may be a reason to go with a store system that does work with the rate tables for shipping costs.

The store supports taxing. You just tell it which localities have to pay taxes and it knows the amount based on shipping zip code.

And Amazon can optionally provide fulfillment. Plus, depending on the type of item, you may be able to get your store products listed in the main Amazon store search.

Once built, the store is easy to use for the customer but for creating the store we recommend that you get some help from someone who has done it before. Like many services the interface can be confusing for a first-time user.

When an order is placed an email goes out to up to three email addresses and then whomever is in charge of fulfillment takes it from there. The store has support for printing out a packing slip for each order.

http://smart-racing-products.hostedbywebstore.com is a store we launched recently for a client. We also did the product photography to replace existing pictures they had that didn’t do the products justice. As you can see the URL includes “hostedbywebsotre.com” as the domain, but you can get a custom domain name and have it point to your store.

After launch it’s just a matter of processing orders as they come in and watching over the shipping computations to see if they are close enough (on average) to actual.

All in all, we quite like the Amazon store service, and think it’s a good alternative for clients who don’t want to host their own store.