|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 05/01/2007 : 17:27:20
This is just a kind my 2 cents on the policy regarding banishment and demerits for "late" shipping, as outlined a bit in the seller newsletter 2... This one is open for discussion, and this is just my opinion.
First, I really like the idea of a policed/semi tightly controlled place to buy and sell comics as an end user of atomic avenue. I (mostly) like the fairly hardlined way of dealing with policing atomic avenue... in theory the tighter it's maintained, the better quality the transactions should be.
However, I still think the expectation is too high on the 2 business day shipping policy for normal users, and eventually this may turn into a problem down the road. The vacation setting was a major step in the right direction on this, but IMO won't solve the end problem.
Point 1: First, I believe Atomic Avenue most closely resembles the models of half.com and amazon marketplaces (with a comic book niche). The shipping time policy (and others) also tends to reflect this. However, in action, atomic avenue's user base most likely resembles something more like ebay (albeit, a higher quality user base IMO). Atomic Avenue's actual users are much more geared toward consumer to consumer transactions, where half.com/amazon marketplace have a large amount of professional or semiprofessional sellers and retailers selling to consumers. (I do realize that atomic avenue handles the money side of the transaction, but that doesn't affect this story...)
If Atomic Avenue's sellers were stores selling to consumers, I would have less problem holding them to a tight shipping window... after all, they are in the business of selling comic books, and should have the resources, and competitive survival mode to get the books out quickly. Of course, the consumers would regulate this through their purchasing habbits and feedback.
But in this case, we're talking individuals selling to individuals... I think a very high standard should be strived toward (and outstanding feedback would reflect this - allowing the cream to rise to the top), but not as a rule that could get someone demerited/banished.
Point 2: The feedback system is totally different than Ebay... as only buyers leave feedback for sellers here. This eliminates a lot of the feedback politics (such as feedback hostaging, scratch my back..., fear of leaving negative, etc.), and should prove for a more accurate feedback ratings system (though there is still room for abuse by buyers).
This style of feedback system is a big policing tool... and also another reason why I think the 2 business day policy should be reconsidered. I think someone who always/almost always ships the books within 2 business days is exceptional, and the feed back would reflect such. Someone who regularly gets the orders out once or twice a week is average but fine (twice a week is a 4 star seller, once a week a 3 star). Someone who regularly takes more than a week is subpar and may need policing/or at least looking into.
Over time, Human Computing will set behavior (somewhat) - which will mostly be a positive thing, but I fear having too tight of rules (2 day policy) will wind up with buyers leaving negative feedback/complaint for perfectly reasonable (real-world) shipping times - because they were told by Atomic Avenue that it is too slow to ship in 3 days. You sometimes see this on ebay where a brand new ebay user will leave negative feedback for a quality established ebay seller who shipped on a Saturda morning from a Tuesday afternoon closed auction, or who took 30 hours to respond to a follow up email instead of that same night.
Point 3 (the real point): I'm looking at it by taking a step back and thinking about the average 40 hour work week collector who is not selling on atomic avenue as a business. Someone who has to work in his/her buying and selling around their normal lives, and jobs, and who cannot sell their books or check their emails while at work.
Someone who may have a family, kids in sports, may take college classes with homework, pets, a demanding job with long or varying schedules, have other hobbies, may sell regularly here and ebay, might want to go camping that weekend, etc... (I'm also thinking a bit about the probable demographics comicbase has, which should be somewhat similar to cbg's demographics materials).
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on this one, but just step back a minute... you have a decent collection of items for sale on atomic avenue (so far 1500 listings, but you intend to add more from your 17,000 book collection).... you don't work in the comics business, but are a 33 year old male with a more than supportive wife, 2 kids (9 and 14), a dog... you work in a supervisory role at the local supermarket as a shift leader/head clerk with a 40 hour work week, but the schedule can change every so often - not fully under your control. You sell a bit on ebay, and a bit on atomic avenue (resulting in 2-5 orders a week). Oh yeah... and you take time to buy comics on ebay, atomic avenue, and locally. Your wife works part time (to ultimately help fund your collecting habbits of course), which leads to shared responsibilities with the kids/pets/shopping/banking/cooking/etc.
I think that over time this person will slowly but surely not be able to meet the 2 business day limit... especially if sales start to pick up for him as atomic avenue grows. He probably wants to be a good seller, because he is a good collector, and wants to retain a nice feedback so he can sell more. I do believe it can be done for a while by a dedicated seller, but isn't likely over time.
Here's some example sites (I included both sides of the coin). The retailers below are market leaders for general back issues (basically carrying a bit of gold and a nice selection of Silver to modern, excluding last weeks release). I excluded the big warehouse dealers, new issues web retailers, or specialized dealers even if they are market leaders.
-Half.com: 72 hours excluding holidays and weekends (so it would be 5 days counting the weekend). [this is near what atomic avenue should be IMO]
-Amazon marketplace: 2 business days
-Atomic Avenue's nearest competitor specializing in comics (similar but mostly inferior setup - been around for years) = 10 day contact rule (just to accept the deal or not). [this is ridiculously too lax]
-Best large web based comic book retailer of back issues: processes orders within 3 business days [these guys blow me away with their web-only service - from top to bottom I never hesitate to order from them for back issues]
-The 2 Largest web based comic book retailers of general back issues: approx 3-10 business days or more [you all know these guys - quality varies]
-Any given Quality ebay amateur sellers: ships within 1 week usually gets it out within 1-3 business days [again where I'm thinking the Atomic Avenue policy should be].
...My 2 cents
|6 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 05/04/2007 : 11:56:05
There's a Personal Notes section in your Profile where you can tell a little about yourself. I'd note that you are disabled in that section, and that there may be a delay in shipping items. You should be able to e-mail the buyers directly if there's going to be a long delay.
||Posted - 05/04/2007 : 11:23:49
I am hoping within the month to join the community of sellers on A.A., however one thing worries me. I am disabled and only have the ability to get to the Post Office twice a week. Thursday and Sunday, (the P.O. at our local Airport is open 7 days a week. I worry that if I sell something on Monday it will take 4 days to post the item, (or hopefully Items.) Will this set me up for complaints?
Can I state this somehow in the selling of the book. I am only getting to read all the rules, and setup.
||Posted - 05/02/2007 : 19:15:16
I full-heartedly support letting the feedback steer the buyers to the sellers they want to buy from. If I ship on the slow end, I should be penalized for it by lower sales. If I am notoriously late as a seller, then I can see myself being corrected or even banned. That's one of the cool things about AA.
I also full-heartedly support you guys growing a strong, secure, confident community with AA - all things in that direction are awesome.
Based on how you described it, my suspicion (at this point without having any data) is that the non-retailer 4's and 5's are often getting the books out anywhere from 24-96 hours right now. I don't think that the 2 day standard is actually being reached as often as the feedback numbers suggest by the group as a whole, but rather that buyers' expectations are currently based on ebay, and existing online comics retailers shipping times. Current buyers are probably trained to be accustumed to a semi-reasonable 96 hour to ship window. This will remain for a while (possibly forever).
I also suspect AA's population is generally higher caliber than ebay by nature right now, which I suspect will result in tighter shipping at the moment. A lot of the sales are probably community types and Human Computing guys making sales... for now.
But over time, if AA is more broadly successful (as I suspect it will be), I think some incoming less experienced/younger buyers (who come here) will become less tolerant of that shipping window, and overly penalize existing sellers because of the rule. Your demographic is changing on a month-to-month basis (the free edition was a brilliant move)...
For the record, I expect that I would get 4's and 5's if I ship in the 72-96 hr window right now if all else was strong with the package. But I wouldn't be in compliance, and sooner or later some newbie buyers would hit me with some 1's on my feedbacks for shipping just outside the 2 day window.
Just something to roll around in the backs of your brains and keep an eye on over time. I don't think this is a pressing matter by any means, and I don't think this is going to hurt your sellers to any significant degree (ever). I do, however, philisophically (spelling?) dislike the idea of buyers being trained to expect a 2 day turnaround by non-pro comics sellers. (This is coming from my buying side more than my selling side. I remember when 4-8 weeks was a reasonable expectation from established back issue comics mail order houses, and most large catalogs were 8 1/2 by 11 pages folded in half and stapled in the middle, and grading was 5 very loose grades. I love how our little back issue industry's professionalism expectations have improved over the years. But 2 is cutting it a bit tight for me on a personal level (as are all those darn variations of NM)).
Either way, I really like what you're doing overall
||Posted - 05/02/2007 : 00:30:13
(Warning: I get around to addressing the exact topic at hand four paragraphs hence--feel free to skip down to there if you hate philosophical preamble)
I think one of the most interesting things about setting up a system like Atomic Avenue is that while we get the chance to set the basic rules of the "ecosystem", it's ultimately up to the "players" -- the buyers and sellers -- to determine what the finished product looks like (and frankly, whether or not it'll be successful!)
Two of the fundamental things I see as crucial to the success of the system are that:
1. Buyers on the system should be able to buy with no fear whatsoever of getting "burned" (losing their money, getting played around with on conditions, not receiving items, etc.)
2. The actual transaction process should be as "friction free" as possible. Anything which complicates the sale, whether it's questions over shipping costs, or not knowing when you'll receive your items, becomes one more headache for the buyer (and seller), and one more reason to hold off buying, or avoid making the purchase altogether. We want Atomic Avenue to be a place where getting comics you want is as easy as buying a book from Amazon.com.
With those principles in mind, the really interesting question is how to make those things happen, given the huge number of "players" in the game. Clear standards and strict enforcement definitely help build confidence in the system. Better yet, they reduce uncertainty--probably the greatest source of "friction" of all. That said, sellers will differ in their ability to meet standards, and if we make the standards too tough, the whole system will fail. So is a two-day order processing time unreasonable and unattainable? What should we do for sellers who feel they need more time to get orders out?
I think, within reason, we can probably let the system provide the answer to that question by itself. (You'll notice that "shipping late" wasn't one of the 3 deadly sins in my "How to Get Banned" column). If the basic expectation is that upon placing an order on Atomic Avenue, you'll get notice of shipping within 2 business days, it gives you room to delight your customers (a bit) by shipping immediately, and room to disappoint them if you take a week. All of this will be reflected in the ratings users give.
My sense is that if most sellers are getting a "B" (about 4 out of 5), we're doing pretty well, and the standard is proving itself reachable. If most are getting Cs or Ds (2 or 3 out of 5), we'd want to investigate further to find out why. If the cause is that their orders are all arriving late, then we'd either need to adjust the expectations of the sellers by coming down on them from an administrative angle, or we'd need to adjust the expectations of the buyers by increasing the shipping lead time. The first approach runs the risk of alienating all our sellers, the second could alienate the buyers. (All things considered, I'd rather hope we could keep our standards high and get away with it!)
So what are we to do for the slower shippers if, as it so far seems to be turning out, most feedback ratings are 4s and 5s? Well, we could certainly try to add in some sort of shipping window setting which they could customize to signal to potential buyers that they won't be processing the order as swiftly as the other sellers whose books they're being compared against. This would allow the potential buyer to weigh their other factors (price, seller rating) against the slower processing time in making their purchase decision. While this would allow sellers to more easily maintain a higher rating, the chief downside of this would be that it would add a fair amount of that dreaded "friction" to the sales process, as buyers would now need to sort out conflicting standards as part of making a purchase decision.
At this point--particularly while the system is establishing (successfully!) its reputation--my inclination is to keep the sales and shipping terms simple, the standards high, and let the rating system indicate to their potential customers who the best person is to buy books from.
||Posted - 05/01/2007 : 22:09:44
I do tend to get a bit blabby...
One other point I forgot to mention before...
With Atomic Avenue, the seller doesn't get to choose when his/her items will sell. On ebay, the seller can list a set number of items, and have them end on a set date. This is one of the reasons so many auctions close on the weekend, which allows sellers to pack it on sunday and ship on Monday or Tuesday. (Of course I do realize that folks list items on the weekends because of the extra eyeballs attracted to ebay on the weekend).
In our situation AA users don't have a choice as to when an item closes, nor can they easily control how many items will sell... this is good, but can lead to too much of a good thing, or too much of a good thing at a bad time.
This wouldn't really affect a user listing a handfull of items, but it will come into play for larger sellers as the site grows.
||Posted - 05/01/2007 : 19:18:25
That was a lot to read but well worth it. You made some great points. I must agree that the 2 day shipping schedule is a little tight (for all the reasons that were mentioned) and I believe we need to discuss it as a group. I really would like to see at least a 5 day schedule. But that is just my opinion. Let's talk this out!!! I know we could come to a agreement somewhere