Amazon's Iron Fist

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uwR9ycGD-IQ/SHSSPm81PeI/AAAAAAAAABE/Pp4u6WA4lq4/s400/iron%2Bfist.JPGAccording to a research report issued by RBC Capital, Amazon controls over 33% of the e-commerce market in the United States.  They are clearly on the top of their game, but are losing their heart?  Recent actions by the monolithic e-commerce Juggernaut that is Amazon are causing more and more users to question the company’s competitive practices.

For example, Joshua Odmark learned the hardway that Amazon has stopped paying affilliates their commission when the affiliate uses a URL shortener like tinyurl or bitly.  Last week Amazon cut off four different affiliate partners that supplied ShopSavvy with product data.  The reason?  Amazon doesn’t have the resources to support mobile applications.  Nobody including people like John Gruber can understand why Amazon would seek to limit the distribution of their data and ultimately their ability to sell their goods.  Finally, earlier today Wil Shipley, internet rockstar, had to remove his uber-popular application Delicious Library today after receiving notice from Amazon he would be cut off.  Ouch.  Dan Moren from Macworld responded, “this blanket ban on mobile apps is bizarre and, to put it bluntly, stupid.”

We love Amazon.  What they have done for online commerce has been truly remarkable.  In many ways, they set the stage for apps like ShopSavvy.

Unfortunately, we have had difficulty incorporating Amazon products among the more than 20,000 retailers and 2 million products that are part of ShopSavvy.   It’s not a technical issue; with access to Amazon’s product API, we could include all Amazon products in the ShopSavvy database immediately.  But for reasons that are unclear to us, Amazon has not yet given us this access.

For a while, we have been able to work around this problem, because a number of our partners had access to Amazon’s API, and we were able to display Amazon results through them.   But now Amazon has essentially cut this option off, meaning that only a small percentage of Amazon products now display in ShopSavvy results.

We’re not sure why Amazon is reluctant to be part of ShopSavvy, but we know that our 1+ million users would benefit from having access to Amazon’s prices as they comparison shop for books, movies, music, games, electronics and many other types of products.

We intend to plead our case directly to Amazon again soon — and we will need your help.  Let Amazon know that you want their product results to be part of ShopSavvy.  Tell Amazon they should join Best Buy, Wal-Mart and the 20,000 other retailers who allow their products to be accessed by ShopSavvy users.


10 Responses

  1. David says:

    Can you tell us who is best to contact at Amazon? I definitely want Amazon to be part of ShopSavvy.

  2. zero says:

    amazon is awesome and gay at the same time. just like apple.

  3. Michael Andrews says:

    Hahaha, I love it !!

    Death to ShopSaavy by Amazon ;-)

  4. Tobi says:

    Shame on Amazon!

  5. David Perkins says:

    I AM VERY ANNOYED ABOUT THIS AND HAVE WRITTEN TO AMAZON EXPLAINING WHY.

    THIS IS THE TEXT OF MY (FIRST) LETTER – SECOND TO FOLLOW SHORTLY.

    My wife and I are trying to build up a business on Amazon marketplace selling books, mostly second-hand, where we trade as Badgers Book Shop (BBS). Currently, we have about 400 books on offer having so far sold about 150. A very small operation but we are working at it.

    My son recently drew attention to a new mobile telephone called HTC Magic available from Vodafone. The main attraction to me was the built-in bar-code scanner which works through the camera using an associated program called Shop-Savy.

    By pointing the scanner at the bar code on the back of a book it almost instantly picked up the various internet prices, plus prices at local book shops for comparison. Being on 3G this was extremely quick and almost invariably the lowest web price was one coming from Amazon marketplace.

    This little phone was ideal for trawling around car boot sales – for example – and deciding which books were worth acquiring for BBS and which were likely to be 1p and worthless. This scanning facility saved us buying many valueless books: it was truly magic!

    This weekend at a local car boot sale I suspected that the system was malfunctioning as very few books appeared. Just occasionally one or two would show up at an apparently realistic resale price and we then bought them.

    However when we came to list these on our BBS site it was soon obvious that these were not Amazon prices. Most of the books were in fact worthless as the scanner had been feeding us totally misleading information.

    Most of the books were on offer on Amazon but usually at much less than the indicated prices – many were just 1p. The prices we had been given had come from other smaller rival sites which overprice virtually everything sometimes significantly. Goodness knows why, or what this policy achieves.

    Let me quote one example. Please look at ISBN-10: 1852791969 which is a little book on Rottweilers – a guide to selection, care, nutrition, upbringing, training, health, sports and play. It comes from the ‘About Pets’ Series. This book is listed with Amazon Books: currently, there are ten available at 1p each. Frankly there was no point in bothering to buy or list our copy! Save we bought it at the weekend for 50p.

    Looking this book up on HTC Magic, as I write this letter, the Web price is shown as £4.07. When I dig deeper that is the price being attributed to somewhere called Pickabook. Next comes W H Smith quoted at £4.79 with Play.com at £4.99, the Book Depository at £5.73 and finally bookzone.co.uk which puts the price at £6.64. In other words, total rubbish when Amazon – the biggest and best internet marketing site – has 11 of these books all available at 1p. These other sites are misleading and, for our purposes, totally irrelevant.

    Looking at Shop-Savy’s own Web site I have found a notice reporting that Amazon is now refusing to allow the service access to its marketplace data base.

    This means I now have a 12-months contract with Vodafone for a mobile which I do not want as it no longer offers the service I wanted. It means we are once again going to waste time and money buying books blind. This means less business and less profit for Badgers Book Shop. However, we cannot be alone in finding the price checking facility useful, and so it also means significantly less business and less profit for Amazon.

    I cannot see any logical reason why you should have decided to withdraw this useful co-operation from Shop-Savy. We were using it to compare second-hand book prices
    but presumably it covered most of your product range and gave you extra and wholly favourable publicity for free – generating considerable extra business and extra profit for Amazon.

    In a nutshell, please reconsider this strange decision and restore the feed to Shop-Savy as quickly as possible! If there are other considerations I have not appreciated why not allow access to the books so that people like us can take advantage of a ‘magic’ service?

    Finally, please do not file this letter away as another customer complaint. Please pass it through to the appropriate Senior Management with a request for Action This Day – if not sooner.

    Thank you in anticipation.

    ——————————————

    WHY AM I ALONE? PLEASE CONTACT AMAZON AND COMPLAIN!!!

    David Perkins

  6. David Perkins says:

    SECOND LETTER TO AMAZON. I HAD HAD A REPLY FROM ‘AUDRY’ WHO SAID SHE HAD PASSED MY LETTER ON, AS REQUESTED.

    HERE IS MY FURTHER LETTER UNDERLINING THE PRICING PROBLEMS WITH BOOKS.

    Audrey,

    Firstly, thank you for your reply and passing my earlier complaint up the line. I need to get something done.

    In that e-mail I mentioned one small book on Rotweillers as an example of the problem.
    I have just finished going through all of the books I acquired over the weekend then hoping to offer them for sale on Badgers Book Shop on Amazon.

    There were more ‘duds’ than I had realised and I have found 11 more. These are all individual books which we would not have bought had Shop-Savy still been able to access the main Amazon Books data base and warn that they were worth no more than 1p each.

    Here is a list of the ISBN-10: reference numbers in my ‘useless’ pile:

    0273635413 Trading Online: A Step-by-step Guide to Cyber-profits by Mr Alpesh Patel (Paperback – 4 Jan 1999) 41 Used & new from £0.01

    0340835340 The Low GI Diet by Jennie Brand Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell, and Joanna McMillan-Price (Paperback – 6 Dec 2004) 53 Used & new from £0.01

    0749437862 Working Abroad: The Complete Guide to Overseas Employment by Godfrey Golzen and Jonathan Reuvid (Paperback – 14 Jun 2002) 40 Used & new from £0.01

    0276424236 Perfect Poultry by ANON. (Hardcover – 1 Jan 2000) 11 Used & new from £0.01

    0276424243 Vegetables for Vitality (Eat Well, Live Well) by Reader’s Digest (Hardcover – 28 Jun 2001) 39 Used & new from £0.01

    0276424229 A Passion for Pasta (Eat Well, Live Well) (Hardcover – 28 Jun 2001) 78 Used & new from £0.01

    0321266927 Little MAC Book: Panther Edition by Robin Williams (Paperback – 10 Jun 2004) 16 Used & new from £0.01

    0245542367 The Picture Buyers Handbook by Peter Ford (Hardcover – 1 Jul 1988) 19 Used & new from £0.01

    0007213504 The “Times” Su Doku: Bk. 2: The Utterly Addictive Number-placing Puzzle by Wayne Gould (Paperback – 6 Jun 2005) Buy new: £5.99 £4.07 67 Used & new from £0.01

    0752271682 Motley Fool : How to Invest When You Don’t Have Any Money by Chris Spink (Paperback – 21 April 2000) 16 Used & new from £0.01

    1857039245 Returning to Work: A Guide to Re-entering the Job Market by Sally Longson (Paperback – 27 Feb 2004) 17 Used & new from £0.01

    That means Amazon (and BBS) has lost the opportunity of making profit from the resale of some of the 12 books over time.

    And for no good reason whatsoever as far as I can see.

    Please restore this service as soon as possible.

    Thank you.

    David Perkins

  7. Nathan says:

    It sounds like Amazon is planning their own mobile app. and wants to have more control over their mobile userbase. They recently aquired SnapTell, that does image recognition search.

  8. Merijn de Boer says:

    Amazon just bought SnapTell. This is the main reason, they want exclusive content on this medium and not spread it across multiple apps. Tough luck for ShopSavvy.

    • amuse says:

      The real reason is that they don’t want users to compare prices – they want users to shop at Amazon. My latest post talks about this.

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    MOST INFORMATIVE SITE FOR ELECTRONICS….

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