Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Today I traded in my comfortable world of reading and gardening and non-profits for three days in the eCommerce world. I flew to Seattle and joined 500 e- entrepreneurs at the Sellers Conference for Online Entrepreneurs sponsored by It's a taste of the corporate/technology/eCommerce world.
Day 1. I learned a couple of things about Amazon right off the bat. First of all, the company considers itself primarily an eCommerce platform, rather than simply an online bookseller as I considered it. One third of the merchandise sold through Amazon comes from second party sellers like the ones at the conference. Over a million of them! Another thing I learned is that many of these sellers are not individuals like me listing items to clean out the house, but big time vendors with inventories in the 6-digits.  They sell everything (no exaggeration) -- from beauty supplies to electronics to toys from China to lingerie to cold packs.
And they are making big bucks. I’m hearing about net profits of many thousands per month, with the top seller that I heard about making about $40K per month. So the recession has not hit online sellers.Another thing I learned is that Amazon is growing like there's no tomorrow. They cannot hire people fast enough and they don't have enough employees or capacity to meet the demand. In fact I think the reason they encourage so much second party selling is because they cannot meet the demand for merchandise themselves.
One of the best things for everyone is the F2F interaction between sellers and Amazonians (a.k.a. Amazon employees). We 500 sellers were joined by 150 Amazonians who mingled generously among us – at lunch, at the bar, in the hallway, in formal sessions, and with one on one appointments. It was good for us and good for them, as it is clear that the selling platform is huge and complex. .

Day 2. Today is vender day. All the companies that have grown up to support Amazon sellers got to present their services. This includes inventory management software, postage and shipping companies, repricing software, and software which can check Amazon pricing for you if you see an item at the Good Will or a garage sale. Another area of big business -- Amazon support companies.

By now I've mingled enough to find my  own -- very small - niche of small time sellers like me. There are a few who, like me, are selling only books and selling for the love of it. Even within this group, I am the smallest seller.

Day 3. This last day I am glad to see the conference conclude. It's been a fascinating learning experience and I met a lot of people I'd never meet in my general life, but I didn't get the Amazon selling bug, and I'm not going to try to be a big time seller.   I sell books because I’m running out of space in my house and can’t buy more books unless I get rid of some. My books are my friends and every book I own has a story behind it. Some stories are about meeting the author and getting the book signed. Other times it is about what was happening in my life when I read the book, or someone special who gave it to me, or a particular passage which moved me. When I sell the book, I often share my story of this book, this physical object, with its new owner. And I hope I pass on something more than a commodity.

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