Well, to be honest, I really don’t expect Amazon to fail or even go downhill. Amazon has improved so much sine the 90s when it was nothing more than a bookstore. I think that Amazon has and will stay ahead of the curve and continue to provide great service.
But, there are also smaller eCommerce suppliers that simply are not in the same class as Amazon, and many of those sellers are limiting themselves, and really doing it for no reason at all.
I realized this a few days ago after placing an eCommerce order for a few items.
My recent orders
IN the past few months, I have started ordering some merchandise on AliExpress. AliExpress is the baby brother of Alibaba, which is a Chinese eCommerce company. Alibaba generally sells wholesale quantities of merchandise. AliExpress sells many of the same items, but in smaller quantities. Alibaba is more of a wholesaler, while AliExpress is more of a retailer, selling to individuals instead of business people.
In the past, I had done some business with Alibaba, but had not even heard of AliExpress until recently. A while back, though, a friend told me about AliExpress, and I decided to try them out.
My first experience with AliExpress was when I ordered a bunch of items to sell through one of my own eCommerce businesses. I was pretty surprised that the quality of these Chinese items was great, and the service was excellent too. On top of that… the most important thing… the prices were very inexpensive! The combination of Good Quality/Low Price/Speedy Delivery is something that is hard to beat.
My USB Cable Experience
Last year, I saw some really nice looking USB cables on Amazon. I thought the prices were quite low, so I bought 6 of them. The cables were USB Type C cables, were more than 6 feet long, and were covered with a woven fabric cover rather than the usual plastic. They had a leaver clasp on them so that you could coil them and tie the coil with this snappable leather clasp. Very nice, better than any USB cable I had ever seen. When my son shipped the cables to me from the US, I received them in a Balikbayan Box about 2 months later. I was so impressed with the cables I could not believe how nice they were! I had paid $10 for each cable on Amazon, which I thought was a fair price for such a nice cable.
A while back, I wanted some more cables like that (with different connectors, but the same quality and style of cable). Ordering from Amazon takes a long time to get here, and I was hoping to get them more quickly, but I figured I would have to wait because I knew I could get no such cables here in the Philippines. I got thinking and wondering if anything similar would be available on AliExpress. I looked and… BINGO! I found actually the exact same cables on AliExpress! Now, catch this.. the price was $2.80 per cable, and with FREE shipping to the Philippines. I could not believe it. Everything was identical about the cables, same nice covering, same leather strap, everything was identical. In fact, I could even specify different lengths of the cable, from shorter than what Amazon was offering, to even double the length! So, less than 1/3 of the price, more options available, free shipping, and quicker receipt of the order. How could I beat that?
The big downside for US Sellers
Most US sellers (even Amazon in many cases) will not sell to overseas customers! I don’t really know why. The population of the USA is around 330 Million people. The population of the entire world is around 7 Billion. So the USA is less than 5% of the entire world population! Why would US sellers not want to garner a market that is 20 times bigger than they are currently reaching?
Now, to be fair to Amazon, they do have multiple worldwide locations. There is Amazon UK, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Australia and other locations. So, they are addressing much of the world market. But, on sites where smaller retailers are selling they just flat out refuse to sell to International Customers. This is particularly true on eBay. About the only way I can buy most items on eBay is to have my son, or some other family member (or friend) who lives in the States order the item and ship it to me themselves. That is a hassle.
Now, if I do that, having a friend order, I will pay double shipping costs (the seller shipping fee to sent the item to my friend, then the fee that my friend will pay to ship to me). If I order direct from the retailer (Amazon does ship some, but not all, products to the Philippines), the shipping charge is very high.
If I order from AliExpress (which is in China, also a foreign company for me here in the Philippine), a large percentage of the items sold on AliExpress will be shipped to me for free.
Now, think about this. If I buy the cables from Amazon for $10 per cable, plus pay the shipping (let’s say I order 6 cables as I did previously) the cost to me would be $60 for cables, and probably $30 or more for the shipping, so $90 at minimum. On the other hand, I can order the exact same cables from AliExpress for $2,80 each with free shipping. So, my total from Ali would be $16.80. Shipping is free. Total from Amazon $90 vs total from AliExpress is $16.80. The item ordered from Ali would arrive in about half the time compared to the same order from Amazon. Where would you order?
US Sellers need to get used to International Orders
In the long run, US retailers are going to need to get used to handling international orders, or they will fall behind retailers in other countries. It is that simple.