business studies

who I want to beat (up) on Amazon

There is one company called ‘zoverstocks’ who have been really annoying me on Amazon as I try to sell a few unwanted CD’s. 

Lets do a practical example shall we?

Last week I decided I wanted to sell my Declan O’Rourke CD, ‘Since Kyabram’ and being the only one offering a used copy of this CD I put it up for sale at £11.50 (which was slightly less than a new one). Perhaps that was too expensive and I was being a bit greedy, but it was still cheaper than a new one and just wanted to see if anyone would take it.

The next day I discovered that I wasn’t the only one offering a used Declan O’Rourke CD,  a selller called zoverstocks was as well and they had priced the CD  at £11.49.

This annoyed me.
So I then decided that I would price mine at £11.48 and checked the price of some of the other CD’s I had listed and had put the lowest price on.
It was same story – zoverstocks had undercut them by 1p.

And within a few hours they had undercut my £11.48 on Declan O’Rourke to £11.47.
Today, about 5 days later they are offering the CD at £2.98 while I have moved mine back up to £11.50.

As I’ve watched them over the last few days and realised that they must have a computer program or small trained chip who has the sole purpose of undercutting the lowest price by 1p it has given me an interesting lesson in fair trading, power being accumulated unfairly, etc.
Not that I have fleshed it all out yet but can the same thing be applied to small farmers and the way we shop.
‘The Food Programme’ on Radio 4 yesterday was about supermarkets and bananas. It says

‘Over the past few months Supermarket price wars have halved the cost of one of Britain’s best loved fruits – the banana. Even though retailers say they aren’t passing cuts down to growers Sheila Dillon asks, whether our appetite for cheap fruit is having an impact on workers at the other end of the supply chain. We travel to Ecuador, one of the world’s leading banana exporters, to explore the reaction on a plantation’

The Amazon experience and Food Programme brings it all back that there is a need to be fair in all aspects of our business.
There should be a fair price to farmers in The Windward Islands, but closer to home in the way we shop on the internet I suppose.
Perhaps we need to ask questions like is it right to buy our books off Amazon if it puts the small independent bookshop in our town (which it probably has already) out of business?
Or is it right for me to be feeding Amazon more and more by selling my stuff on it?

And where on earth have we got this notion that if something is cheap, its automatically good? This seems to be a value that we hold dear and forgo any sense of ethics about.
It seems to be ingrained in our heads that cheap is good and a noble value.
You will hear every spokesman from a supermarket who is brought on the TV  using cheap prices to justify whatever morally questionable actions they may be up to.

And the sad thing is, it often works…

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6 thoughts on “who I want to beat (up) on Amazon

  1. teacher says:

    The markets and how they work is a strange and disturbing thing. Although, I love amazon for the obscure titles you cannot get in the regular big names of bookshops that seem to squeeze out the little guys. And amazon allows the little guys to put forward their unique book collections. Anyway, with respect to the BIG ‘super’ markets; whatever you do, do not read…..

    or

    Real eye openers. But they will break your heart and feed your anger.

  2. I’ve decided that I needed to feed my rage some more but bypassed Amazon by pulling the old online library reservation trick to reserve a copy of that first book for 50p.
    And there was me just saying to my wife yesterday that I really like Felicity Lawrence when I read her stuff…

  3. hi Bob
    its funny you should say that about wisdom just at the point when I managed to be stupid and sell the one book I shouldn’t have been selling (a gift from my wife from the time when she was studying in France)

    We’ve never read it so I stuck it on Amazon without thinking.
    I sold it this morning and there it was sitting on the table ready to be posted and she saw it and said something like ‘You’re selling our memories…’ . It even had a wee bookmark from the bookshop in Aix-en-Provence she had bought it in.
    So I was going to buy a new one and offer to post it to the person who had bought the book but wouldn’t you know it I was the only person selling it.

    I wonder if that ever happens to zoverstocks??:)

  4. Sylvan Drake says:

    Zoverstocks drives me nuts too, but I think in the long wrong their tactic will drive them out of business. We may not be able to beat them in a price war but we can strike back and help reduce their profits to bring about their demise more swiftly. When I have a product competing against one of theirs I drop my price to about 50 cents or lower depending on the price for as long as it takes them to undercut it, then raise my price back to the level of the others, and wait for some seller to buy zoverstock’s product at a loss to their company. That leaves the normal sellers to fight things out amongst themselves at a reasonable price. The only problem is when zoverstocks immediately lists another copy of the same product, or if someone buys your item before zoverstocks react. But so far that hasn’t happened. The more people do this, the more will sellers who sell using pricing software lose profits and hopefully go bust. All I know is the day zoverstocks go out of business there’ll be a lot of really happy people around!

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