There exists a problem with buying pilot gear on Amazon. Amazon is king, no doubt but a lot of people really do not understand how Amazon works so they take a lot for granted on that platform
With the exception of a very few cases, Amazon does not manufacture their own products. They rely on third party sellers to fill up the amazon storefront. This is no different when it comes to pilot gear on amazon. Amazon does not make any pilot supplies. They merely offer it for sale on a platform that benefits most buyers. That means brands are just products or household names that some company has choose to sell on the Amazon platform to create some additional revenue.
There are two types of sellers that exists, manufacturers and resellers. Manufactures are brands such as David Clark Headsets. You will often find that the manufacturer sells on Amazon directly as well as competes with several third part vendors that choose to sell the exact same product. We call these “me too” sellers. They do not own the listing but merely throw their hat in the ring if they find they have some availability in carrying the product. What this ultimately means is the third party vendor has to play by the manufacturers rules in regards to the listing and the price. Sure a third party seller can mark the product down in price but this often leads to a race to the bottom of the market in which the original manufacturer always wins since they have the best pricing. So in this case, larger companies like Sporty’s or any other pilot supply company cannot really dominate because they are not the original manufacturer of the headsets. This is particularly true when it comes to buying airplane models. There is one main vendor that controls the market but also sells wholesale to other vendors. Sure everyone can sell the same airbus model for example, but in the long run that company makes the most.
The Big Ugly
No matter what product is offered on Amazon, the seller has to pay Amazon 15% of the sale in the form of a “fee’ when that item sells. This is not negotiable and its one of the ways Amazon makes its money. If a seller chooses to advertise the product, they also have to pay for that on top of the regular 15% fee as well. It can quickly add up. Most sellers do not really understand this concept very well and 99% of buyers on Amazon have no idea this paradigm exists. They just want a lot of items to choose from and free delivery. So if it sells, Amazon gets paid no matter what. Remember this for the rest of the article.
So why is this an issue with pilot gear on amazon?
Lately there has been an increase in what is called a product listing that is hijacked. Often an Asian seller will either try to take over a listing (illegally) or copy a product that they can manufacture cheaply and enter the marketplace. Because of the size of the marketplace these scrupulous sellers often are not caught and the problem runs rampant. Often they will choose a product that is doing well or is popular. If you are not paying attention of where the product is shipping from, you can be very disappointed. Only you the buyer can prevent or discourage this. One of the best ways is to look at the vendor name and click it to see its location. Typically Asian sellers require a two week window to ship something to you and you will often see longer shipping times on the right side of the listing if you look at it carefully. Other tell tale clues are the names of vendors that are odd or unusual that do not make a lot of sense. These are usually indicators of trouble.
So what do you look for?
First look for vendors you trust. Look for brand names that are well known or look for companies that specialize in the product you are interested in. One of the ways you can do that is looking at trust icons that verify authenticity. Our products are designed by pilots and flight attendants that are in the business. Who knows better than them when it comes to pilot gear and flight attendant gear? The majority of the time we offer the “Certified Aviator” and Certified “Flight Attendant Gear” logos on our products. Look for them, it means the products are designed locally and with flight crews or aviation enthusiasts in mind. Most importantly its from a company that you can reach out too and ask a question or get support. Its not some person who sits at a desk and has never been to the airport, big difference.
This is what it looks like, and this will be on your package. If it is not, ask or inquire immediately as to why. It also tells you that you have the real deal in aviation products. A product that is hijacked will not have it even though it may have the ASJ name. If you call we will ask if you noticed the decal on the box. Amazon is switching to a similar system for their products since the problem is such a real headache.
This is the example for flight attendant gear that is certified.
Also be sure an look for this graphic in our products
Yes it pretty much says it all right?
So why are we selling on Amazon as well as on our own site? Good question, no doubt Amazon has all the eyeballs. If you want to compete and build a brand its almost certain that an Amazon presences is required. Not everything we have offer is on Amazon so it pays to visit our site. Also we firmly believe a time is coming when their will be a national issue with Amazon and its marketplace dominance. We also have better availability and sometimes the pricing is better as well.
So what do I do if I got a bogus product? Let us know immediately and we will get the ball rolling with Amazon
What if I do not see all the logos on all of your products? We are slowly going back through every product and fixing the graphics for clarification. This is time consuming but we are devoted to changing the marketplace. If we missed one, please let us know.
Is your shipping times the same as Amazon? Most of the time yes, we ship immediately unless you have a custom product. Even then we ship very quickly. What Amazon wont tell you is that they are still susceptible to market fluctuations when it comes to shipping. They have evolved greatly in adding their own shipping carrier but still rely on other vendors which can let you down or be delayed. Amazon will not tell you that sometimes the USPS just loses the package, its a fact of life. It’s not the vendors fault and its never Amazon’s fault. Working with us directly is much easier when it comes to replacements.