» Selling on Amazon

Thank you all for your comments about selling on Amazon.  They are interesting to read – pro and con.  Thank you so much to the person who originally wrote to us asking to sell on Amazon – it got a good conversation going.  Click here to read the original post.

To give you some background:  we have been approached by Amazon multiple times through calls, email messages and visits at trade shows.  We were getting several calls a month from various Amazon employees who wanted to do business.

Amazon was eager to take our entire line of Rhodia products–something none of our current retailers does. That in itself was appealing, because we always get calls and emails requesting references online retailers don’t stock.  Like any other stores, online retailers tend to cherry-pick what their customers want or what they think will sell.  That makes sense for them, but sometimes presents issues for us and the random consumer who can’t find what they want.

The Amazon representatives wanted Rhodia, but also expressed interest in Clairefontaine. I have to say it is an intriguing prospect – it would make it very easy for consumers to find us and buy. It will also give our brands exposure to potentially millions of new customers.  Several of our retailers sell product on Amazon, including Rhodia, Quo Vadis and others.  It seems they do pretty well, but I also know Amazon isn’t their only outlet.  Other than their own prospecting via the web and shows, I suspect Amazon buyers called us because “Rhodia” or “Rhodia notepads” appeared enough in their Search bar to prompt the contact.

We ultimately decided not to sell on Amazon for these reasons:

1) It would severely impact our online retailers–especially those who market and support us with their customers

2) Since Amazon is driven on lowest price – ultimately we may not be able to sell them them (and survive) on the price they demand

3) We will not agree to Amazon’s returns policy

The door to selling on Amazon is not nailed shut, since we don’t know what the future will hold.  But we are not contemplating selling through them at this time.

Thank you again for your thoughtful and sincere comments, which I have passed along through Exaclair and onto France as well.

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Posted on November 28th, 2012 by Karen
Filed in: Editorial, Give us Your Feedback
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By Rebecca Prescott on November 28th, 2012 at 10:41 am

I’m actually glad that you’ve made the decision not to go to Amazon. Whilst I love using Amazon for buying lots of used books and music at bargain prices, I currently buy all my Rhodia from http://www.bureaudirect.com who are one of the greatest online stationery retailers out there. They stock a great range of the products and have a few items in the range that whilst they don’t hold in their warehouse personally, they will send off and obtain special orders for customers.

Bargains are great, but I buy and use Rhodia because of the quality. I don’t mind paying for quality. I also like to buy from somewhere that is passionate about their products and Bureau Direct are very passionate about what they do. It’s a fairly smallish business, but they know all their products inside and out. They also know what other products will go with Rhodia and offer little hampers either of entirely Rhodia based goods or combined with a Lamy pen or some other brands.

I think also, whilst Rhodia is incredibly popular, it’s also very much set apart from what most people use on a day to day basis. I’ve converted a few friends to the brand but I like that it is a sort of ‘different’ alternative to what you can usually buy in most high street stationers.

There are plenty of places and retailers where people can buy a huge range of Rhodia/Exacompta/Clairefontaine/Quo Vadis products online so there really isn’t any need for Amazon to get on board.

Oh, one other retailer who sells and promotes the Clairefontaine ranges of paper is Goulet Pens, based in the US. Brian Goulet who seems to head up the business does lots of comparison tests showing how well Rhodia/Quo Vadis/Clairefontaine stack up against other brands of lesser quality (like Moleskine since they changed how they sourced their paper stock) on little videos so you can see for yourself, just how great the quality is.

Their whole company is mega-passionate about great quality stationery and can recommend not just a great journal to write in, but a great selection of pens and inks to write with.

I’ve made multiple purchases from both these retailers and will continue to because not only do they sell a great range of Rhodia/Exaclair/Clairefontaine/Quo Vadis products, but they offer fantastic personalised customer service and aftercare.

And all the discounted prices in the world can’t make Amazon offer that kind of service.

Just my two pence worth.


Inna word, BOO!
I refuse to pay stupid shipping charges and it’s thinking like this that keeps me from purchasing the products I really want.

I’m with Bex, even if I could buy every Rhodia product ever made on Amazon, I’d rather support my local stationer, A.J. Hastings, in Amherst, MA. I’d rather be able to buy just the Dotweb pads and pencils and support a small business than mess up Rhodia’s bottom line by buying from Amazon.

I am very disappointed to say the least….

By Michael Corry on November 28th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

cultpens.com has just start to carry Rhodia products in the UK I use them as well as Bureau Direct. Similar prices and the same personalised service. Different ranges.

By Rebecca Prescott on November 28th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Ah! Cult Pens! How could I forget! Another excellent retailer who only yesterday I put in an order with, to purchase about 14 various Sakura Jelly Roll pens in all their different formats.

They too are an incredibly well stocked, well informed, fantastic example of customer service offered by a smaller independent business. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

They offer free shipping on all orders over £10 too, which is fantastic; especially if like me you never leave the site without having bought at least half a dozen items.

See? If we just get more and more well run independent smaller retailers on board, selling Rhodia, there is no need for them to become swallowed up into the global homogenising uber-mall that is Amazon.

If you have a favourite locally based retailer somewhere in the world, surely it makes more sense to approach them and then approach Biffybeans or whoever here on Rhodia Drive to see about getting the products sold at an outlet you already love and patronise.

We need to stop thinking of saving 50p off of a kind of luxury item and look upon it as an investment in quality.

But yes, Cult Pens are amazing also!


I think you’re missing out on something by not selling a product on Amazon, but it seems to me the best approach would be to work with Amazon on an exclusive line. If there is capacity at the mill for something better than normal paper but different than the current products in the Rhodia/CF/QV lines, it could be a win-win scenario for everybody.

With that said, I think your current brands are premium, value added brands that need to stay away from the Amazon experience.

I’m pleased that you decided not to go with Amazon. Although I do buy from them, in part because they offer books and DVDs that I can’t find locally, I prefer doing business with smaller independent retailers when I can. I find many Rhodia products in local brick and mortar stores; otherwise I can order from Goulet where I get most of my pens and inks. I’ve seen so many small businesses go under, and I’m glad to see your company do what it can to support them.

By david bogie on December 1st, 2012 at 10:31 am

It was the impact on your reatilers I feared.
Good decision. Courageous, even.
Things will likely change.

(OT: I know you have “The Mac is Not a Typewriter” in your library! Two spaces after a period is so-o-o-o 19th century!)

I too opted out of Amazon, as it did not let me list my product, as it required barcode number for the same. The requirement of having a barcode on each product is very discouraging to small traders like me.

By John the Monkey on December 12th, 2012 at 10:27 am

I’d echo the comments of Bex, and Jen (among others). I can get Rhodia at local stationers, and at places like thewritingdesk.co.uk, and I’m happiest supporting them, and glad that Rhodia/Clairefontaine supports these excellent sellers too.

Ultimately the consumer will always choose the best quality/price tradeoff. Without access to many Rhodia products online at Amazon, it is likely that sales of Rhodia, in the intermediate to long term, will suffer. Amazon’s great product review feature is one reason that I purchase (where else can you get dozens of reviews of the product in one place?). Many local merchants have sales staffs that are untrained and know less about the product than I do. I’ll bet that Rhodia will be on Amazon shortly.


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