My client was thrilled when Amazon contacted him. They were inviting him to set up a store on the popular Amazon website based on the comprehensive nature of his own successful website (which I am proud to have designed, constructed and maintain for him.) Since he is busy running his business, he asked if I could handle this task for him. That would include all communications with Amazon, meeting their technical requirements for providing content via their own proprietary software, as well as upload and testing of the store through to successful implementation. And so it began: November 4th, 2008.
Obstacle Number One:
First hurdle to clear involved my working on a Mac. It seems that Amazon’s software,amazon contact number called the Amazon Seller Desktop or ASD, does not work with the Macintosh operating system. It must work within a Windows environment. But the Amazon technical staff assured me that there were many third-party providers who could handle this task for me, which would cost my client an arm and a leg, and cut me out of the picture.
Since my client’s website has more than 175 automobile accessory products, this was no small matter. Luckily, because Apple Computer allows me to run both Windows and Macintosh operating systems simultaneously, I already had Windows loaded on my computer through a program called Parallels. Granted, I was no Windows expert, nor aficionado, but I always proceed with the assumption that I will persevere if I just keep my nose to the grindstone.
My Amazon technical support contact had never worked with someone in my situation previously, so she had no idea whether the software she would send me would be able to be installed. But we agreed to give it a shot.
Fast forward two months and over a hundred products later, I was able to install and utilize their ASD to provide the descriptive content, the proper visual formats, the hundreds of search terms, the SKU numbers, manufacturer attributions and price information necessary to populate the many fields required for each item to be sold. All of this content is then displayed on the Amazon website within a standard format so all stores look alike in presentation.
Obstacle Number Two:
However, there was another aspect to providing information, which unless managed properly, would prevent inclusion of important seller data, such as shipping and returns policies, tax information, seller background and contact. This involved the Amazon Seller Central website where all store data and inventory is contained and managed by individual storekeepers (or someone like myself) with something called a “release date.” This is an extremely cumbersome functionality which continues to perplex me even after having mastered it a number of times only to have to reinvent the wheel each time I am confronted with it as an obstacle.
Illogically, it requires that you must have a release date set up sometime in the future before you can release current information as of a current date, which is based on Pacific time (while I am on Eastern time). And, it is imperative that you have selected the proper release date from a dropdown menu before editing or adding content to the various categories governed by this system or it will not take effect when you expect.
(How many times have I spent a couple of hours editing and correcting information only to realize that I hadn’t selected the correct release date first and had to start all over again!) Anyway, once you have done this a few hundred times, I’m sure it’s a snap. But for this intelligent college graduate with years of pertinent experience, I find the whole release date concept to be tedious and unnecessary. Yet, I obediently work with what I am presented and sincerely attempt to execute properly, keeping my fingers crossed while I wait out the time difference to see whether my changes have gone into effect at the designated hour. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Trial and error is a great teacher but certainly a time waster in this instance.
But forging right ahead, I am next notified by Amazon of a new segment needing to be added to my ASD software which is important to categorizing our products for the Amazon automotive “Partfinder” search engine. After a couple of flawed attempts at installation through no fault of my own, we are finally successful in appending to my ASD the newly developed “application” software. This requires selections from an endless series of dropdown menus describing make of vehicle (Subaru, etc.), model of vehicle (Forester, etc.), year or years, and a gamut of other special choices including type of engine, transmission, drive, etc.