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Two other things you can customize here is your street address, which you can replace with asterisks if you don't want your address viewable on Amazon.
Also, from your seller account, you can click:
>Edit your seller preferences
This allows you to change the display of your "customer service policy" and "shipping methods," which are displayed in the left column of your Marketplace storefront.
Some sellers believe the dearth of features in the new Marketplace stores is part of a grand strategy by Amazon - or a conspiracy, depending on your point of view - to thin the ranks of its third-party sellers by making it more difficult for sellers to actually sell books. An alternate theory is that Amazon is trying to force sellers into using higher-cost services like Fulfillment by Amazon, its "Webstore" program launched earlier this year.
Amazon's Webstores cost $60 a month.
With a Webstore, you can use categories and custom images, and build more of a brand identity for your store.
Here are two examples of Amazon Web stores, although neither are booksellers:
Wall Street Photo
It remains to be seen whether average sellers have the technical expertise or budget to pursue Webstores.
However, it is possible to get some added exposure for your Marketplace listings, thanks to some recent changes by Google. The search engine company is beefing up its Google Base product-search service.
Google recently released some free software, allowing you to upload the contents of your Marketplace listings, and you can also upload listings from eBay or Yahoo stores. The software is called Google Base Store Connector, and you can get it here:
For adding either your eBay or Marketplace listings, all that's required is entering the name of your eBay Store or Amazon seller e-mail and your password. According to Google, your password doesn't leave your PC.
When I tried the software in early October, it was absolutely pain-free, instantly loading my Marketplace book inventory onto Google Base. However, I later heard from other sellers who complained that it only uploaded part of their listings, or didn't work at all. Perhaps Google will iron out these glitches quickly.
While Google Base can certainly add visibility to your listings, it has three big shortcomings:
However, one entrepreneurial company has stepped in with a solution - BuyBundle
Its software automatically synchronizes your inventory between Amazon and Google Base, and allows you to accept PayPal for your transactions. There's no charge for the service, but you'll pay a 10 percent commission on your sales.
Will any of this make a difference? I haven't gotten a sale from Google Base yet, and I'd bet very few other sellers have either. But things on the Internet can change quickly. Today, Google probably sends most people searching for book titles to Amazon. But by simply flipping a switch someday, Google could start sending all that traffic to Google Base.
Perhaps it all boils down to this: It's more important than ever to specialize, whether it be cookbooks, children's books, modern firsts, whatever. A specialty allows you to stand out and be different from every other cookie-cutter bookseller on the Web. That's a strategy you can build a business on and gain repeat customers - the lifeblood of any healthy business. In the future, it's probably going to be a lot harder to be a successful online bookseller if you're merely offering the same books that 200 other people have listed at cutthroat prices.
Want to read more articles by
BookThink's Contributing Editor Steve Weber?
Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark