Amazon or Retailers?
A common question I get asked is “what do you think about amazon”? Well, there’s pros and cons, especially for purchasing airsoft. Here, I’ll take a closer look at both options for airsoft enthusiasts and experts.
The most significant advantage Amazon can offer is the convenience of ordering something and receiving it quickly. Some products on the online store arrive on the same day or the day after, which is much faster than many other retailers.
Amazon is also user-friendly. The app and website are easy to navigate, as you can find whatever controls or options you want in relatively few steps. It’s clear that the company has spared no effort in letting the customer enjoy the best possible online shopping experience.
The subscription service Amazon offers is called Amazon Prime. Among its benefits are free two-day shipping or free shipping. Many people look for free shipping options, and Prime might even extend that offer to smaller airsoft parts like magazines and springs.
Amazon Prime is a set fee that you pay every month. Frequent shoppers can find themselves saving on shipping costs when they purchase more airsoft guns or other components.
Unfortunately, Amazon has some worrying cons that affect the manufacturers selling their products. By extension, these disadvantages will also affect you when you shop on the platform.
If brand A decides to sell its products on Amazon, it must pay $39.99 in Professional Seller account fees. Many airsoft brands on Amazon will fall into this category, such as Elite Force, Lancer Tactical, and more.
These brands may also use the Fulfillment by Amazon service. If they do, instead of shipping the orders themselves, Amazon will be the one doing that. This service isn’t for free, and several factors affect the price.
- Pick, pack, and weight
- Monthly storage fees
- Product size
The larger a product, the more storage and handling fees will be. We’ll consider the fact that airsoft products don’t always fall into the oversized category, which would mean it measures 18 x 14 x 18 inches. Most rifles are included in this group due to their lengths, such as many AKs, M4s, and other designs,
Most people would assume that larger products cost more to store, but that’s not the case with Amazon. Instead, smaller objects will incur greater costs just to be stowed in an Amazon facility.
Sellers will have to pay more when they wish to keep them in Amazon’s warehouses. It costs 75 cents per cubic foot from January to September, while oversized guns would likely cost 48 cents.
From October to December, which is the holiday season, the price jumps dramatically to $2.40 each cubic foot and $1.20 each cubic foot. The former is for standard size, and the latter is what you pay for storing oversized products.
Not to mention the 15% cut that amazon takes on every order.
These fees add up eventually, and airsoft manufacturers will have to bump up prices and maximize profits to offset the costs.
Amazon has been referred to as a bully – and not without good reason. The company adopts aggressive practices against competitors. In 2009, they acquired Quidsi after lowering prices dramatically against the latter’s subsidiary Diapers.com. Diapers.com had been competing with Amazon for a while, and now it’s no longer a threat.
Third-party sellers are not immune to these tactics. There are occasions a brand might accidentally incur the wrath of Amazon and lose access to its store. From there, it has to navigate through a swamp of customer service that tends to go nowhere.
It got to the point where sellers emailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for help. Appeals aren’t always successful and take a long period to process.
Currently, airsoft isn’t a target on Amazon’s radar. Monopolies are bad for consumers as they stifle the competition and drive prices higher. Fortunately, the airsoft retailers haven’t lost the fight yet.
However, should Amazon have a monopoly on airsoft, you can expect the prices to rise. It would become difficult to find affordable products anymore, since there are no competitors to keep prices from increasing.
The essential benefit retailers like Red Wolf Airsoft or Airsoft Station have are their connections. They are friends with many airsoft brands and usually get to buy in bulk, lowering the prices. You may indeed have to buy more to get free shipping, but retailers in charge of their own warehouses don’t pay extra fees as Amazon requires.
Therefore, without spending on extra subscriptions and with retailers sometimes offering good deals, you’ll find yourself spending less on your favorite airsoft products in the long run.
Warranty and Replacements
Online-based retailers only focus on airsoft products, so their customer service teams are more familiar with warranties and problems the guns might face. For example, Airsoft GI has an exemplary customer service and shipping team that ensure almost no failures happen. They handle returns and replacements more effectively than Amazon, which can sometimes be a nightmare.
Retailers also have much more generous return policies and even money-back guarantees. Dealing with them would be a more pleasant experience when compared to Amazon.
Today, many airsoft brands still prefer to sell to retailers instead of opening stores on Amazon, though some do both. This phenomenon means that Amazon may not have the products you’re looking for, especially smaller brands like Raptor Airsoft, a Taiwanese brand. However, stores like Evike, DASI, and more carry its products.
Airsoft retailers may even have in-house technicians that build guns found nowhere else. Airsoft GI is one example. Red Wolf Airsoft has good relationships with world-class airsoft gunsmiths or Cerakote masters.
Retailers generally have a good reputation, especially the ones you know about. You can trust them to handle your products with care and even honor warranties. Red Wolf Airsoft has even won Best Airsoft Retailer in Asia for 10 years, and it fully intends to maintain the status quo.
Amazon stores may be straight from the brand, but they may not match the lowest prices you see.
Airsoft retailers don’t have glaring weaknesses, as they succeed due to having excellent relationships with airsoft manufacturers. If we were to mention one, it might be that it’s less convenient to buy from a retailer than shopping on Amazon. Their websites may also be less user-friendly.
Another con might be slower shipping, especially if you live farther away from the retailer’s warehouses. For example, Airsoft GI takes between one and four business days to process and ship out orders.
Nevertheless, the disadvantages are pretty trivial and don’t make retailers an unattractive option.
Stick with the Retailers.. for now.
While many brands sell their products on Amazon, it’s evident that airsoft guns and accessories are still carried mainly by retailers. Even in the U.S., the sites we mentioned are popular and active. Furthermore, you can’t get custom orders on Amazon. Amazon’s fees hurt the manufacturers, and end up forcing higher costs on the customer. Even if you save in the short term, you’ll end up paying more before too long.
Considering the options above, you can see that Amazon is a reliable choice. You can get many standard products on Amazon. You have to turn to retailers for uncommon models, and keeping the retailers in business is a decision the customer makes. Happy with the retailers? Stick with ’em. Not happy? Tell them you’re switching to Amazon, they’ll take the point hard.