Asatte Press Ships First Product

The Asatte Press Model CC-1 Coffee Mug
The Asatte Press Model CC-1 Coffee Mug

Actually, this is more of a test product for us. We certainly don’t expect to get wealthy by selling coffee mugs. The real focus here was to test out our product development process and setup the mechanisms to sell products on Amazon.

This also served as another step in setting up our corporate website. We have product description pages:  Asatte Press Products We put out a press release for the product. You can also download the marketing brochure and the user manual for the product from the Asatte Press Support webpage.

The product is available on Amazon. In fact you can order it by clicking on the button in the box below.

First Asatte Press Shipment
First Asatte Press Shipment

In fact, we shipped the first two units on Thursday (Christmas presents).

Of course, the product itself is quite simple – it is just a coffee mug. In fact, it is not even a very large one.  However, we did put some effort into studying what types of mugs are available and chose the most expensive, durable type: vitrified ceramic.  As we have explained in our marketing materials, vitrified ceramics are fired with a vitreous glass infused throughout the material as opposed to traditional porcelain which typically only had a glass glaze on the surface. Infusing glass throughout the structure of the material makes it almost completely impervious to moisture and as a result really robust and tough. Vitrified ceramic is the preferred material for restaurants and other high demand applications.

Amazon Seller Central Image for CC-1
Amazon Seller Central Image for CC-1

As expected, we learned a lot about the function of and the economics of selling this way by putting the Model CC-1 Coffee Mug on the market.

The first thing I learned is that in order to advertise a new product on Amazon, I would have to be able to generate a valid Universal Product Code (aka: barcode) for it. I had to learn about barcodes and sign Asatte Press up with the GS1 organization that issues these codes in the United States.

Having created the bar code for the CC-1, I produced a new product page for it on Amazon Seller Central and listed Asatte Press as having 32 units of the product in inventory.  Looking at the listing on Amazon, I immediately noticed  that the appearance of the CC-1 on Amazon (shown above at left) looked something like the appearance of an out of print book available only via Amazon Marketplace. That is, the yellow button shows as “See all buying options” rather than “Add to Cart”.

Amazon Featured Seller Example
Amazon Featured Seller Example

Hmmm… had I missed something? I looked around and quickly was able to find a “normal” looking page for a product sold by an Amazon Seller Central company. That page is shown at right. I called the Amazon help desk. They explained that the nicer page is the “featured seller” page and that there was nothing I could do to control the appearance. Amazon’s own algorithm would assign this page to a seller based on some combination of sales, prices, returns and user feedback.

That is:

  1. Amazon distinguishes between “manufacturers” and “sellers”
  2. However, Amazon does not provide any direct service or control to manufacturers. There is no such thing as “Amazon Manufacturer Central”
  3. Instead, Amazon Pro Merchant sellers create product pages for products based on the manufacturer’s UPC codes (barcodes).
  4. In the ideal world, the first seller to offer a certain product for sale creates a perfect page to describe that product. After that, all the other sellers link to that same product page and compete vigorously to offer the lowest price and best service. Amazon monitors this activity and picks a winner to have the “featured seller” page. Very elegant.
  5. In reality, however, there is nothing constraining multiple sellers from making multiple product pages for the same product. After that, what you get is multiple clusters of sellers around multiple product pages for the same product. In order to see this phenomenon in action, just open up the nearest inkjet printer, read the number off the cartridge and type in <manufacturer> + <number> in Amazon’s search window.
  6. Another problematic point is that Amazon does not seem to offer manufacturers any means of controlling how their products are presented. Manufacturers do not have any mechanism to create an “official” page for their product. Manufacturers do not have any obvious recourse for correcting spurious or incorrect descriptions of their product.  Manufacturers do not have any mechanism for identifying authorized sellers of their product (versus grey market or other shady sellers)

Hmmm… very interesting.

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