JCK’s Rob Bates took a closer look at Amazon’s vetting process for its jewelry sellers. He spoke to Kristin Cherry Jackson, who recently joined 21C Jewelry Solutions consultancy, following her senior position at Amazon.
The former Amazon senior category merchant manager for jewelry shared how in order to understand her former job, you have to realize that Amazon sells in two ways. The first is through standard Amazon retail, where you order direct from the company. The second is through third-party sellers. Cherry Jackson worked with third-party jewelry sellers, which included mom-and-pops to large chain manufacturers.Although it often remains unclear how committed the online giant is to jewelry, Jackson is quick to assure that “in Amazon’s opinion, everything is a growth area. It’s all about being a one-stop shop, and if it doesn’t have something, it failed.”
Prime Time. Prime shipping is really attractive to people, and customers have gotten spoiled. When Prime really took off, more and more sellers started adding inventory to “Fulfilled by Amazon.” When Amazon couln't keep up with the inventory, but retailers could prove that they could handle the Prime requirements, Amazon introduced Seller Fulfilled Prime. The price of the items in the jewelry category was high enough that they could do shipping themselves [without worrying about costs]. The speed of shipping is more important than the cost, considering near peak holiday times, other online channels still require a week, while Amazon takes up to 3 days.
Presentation matters. Amazon Retail uses beautiful packaging for jewelry. Sellers often don’t. Sellers can set themselves apart by taking control of their detail pages, their packaging as well as writing professional listings. All those little details make a difference in selling items. This especially so for the online community, who leave reviews of the sales process.
Quality matters even more. Amazon has a really high trust level. Trust, as we know, is crucial for the fine jewelry business. Sellers need to understand that their quality could be under scrutiny at any time. Even before a seller is able to sell fine jewelry, they have to send samples to Amazon, which are sent to a gem lab. Many times, the sellers aren’t aware of the quality of their product. There is a significant failure rate. If for some reason there is a discrepancy, between the item and its description, the seller is put at risk. It’s not uncommon for sellers, even big ones, to be suspended, because Amazon doesn’t play favorites. Should this occur, sellers have to reapply, which for big sellers includes a $5,000 fee, which isn’t even the problem. The painful part is not being able to sell on Amazon for a few weeks.