EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3132 - August 16, 2013     1 of 4

New Amazon API Could Change Repricing Game

By Kenneth Corbin

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With Amazon's release of a new API earlier this month, Marketplace sellers will have much more rapid access to the pricing and listing information of their competitors, a development that could accelerate price-based competition on the ecommerce giant.

Amazon is calling the new feature the Marketplace Web Service (MWS) Subscriptions API, rolling out a set of client libraries and documentation that will give sellers, and repricing services, much more agility in calibrating prices to those of their competition.

"The API provides sellers with new ways to filter competitors in their pricing strategies," said David Van Der Merwe, product manager with the ecommerce service provider Monsoon Commerce. "Sellers will also have the ability to get more immediate feedback on the efficacy of their pricing strategies, so they can modify them in a more timely way as the market shifts."

The Amazon Marketplace Web Service Subscriptions API made its debut with the AnyOfferChanged notification, offering sellers near-real-time information on changes to the pricing of the top 20 competing offers. Instead of having to poll Amazon's "GetLowestOfferListings" tools, subscribers to the new API will now automatically receive notifications of pricing or listing offer changes within 60 seconds. The new API determines the top 20 competing offers by landed price, or list price plus shipping. Identically priced offerings are sorted randomly.

Monsoon was among the vendors that was involved in the beta development of the Subscriptions API, and is looking ahead to the rollout of new features, though the direction that Amazon intends to take the product remains a mystery.

"We anticipate that there will be some additional features, but none have been confirmed at this point. In terms of timeline, we haven't been provided with details, but Amazon has certainly progressed quickly to rollout," Van Der Merwe said.

Amazon declined to offer an immediate comment on its development plans for the new API.

Already, other pricing service providers like Appeagle are hailing the release of the Subscriptions API for offering sellers more granular tools to manage their Amazon stores.

"The biggest thing that the API is going to change for us is the ability to set your repricing strategy to only compete against Featured Merchants. This means that our users are only competing against merchants in the Buy Box position," said Zee Mehler, Appeagle's chief marketing officer.

In addition to targeting specific competitors, the Subscriptions API will allow sellers to tailor their repricing strategies to compete only against certain listings, such as specific ship-from locations, condition notes, or those offering Fulfillment by Amazon. As a corollary, sellers will be able to exclude certain merchants from their repricing framework.

Additionally, sellers will have the ability to exclude Amazon itself from their list of competitors, or to assign the company different "beat by" repricing criteria.

That influx of competitors' pricing data, and the near-real-time speed with which it will arrive, could become a powerful tool for merchants to build their businesses. At the same time, it could also usher in a boom period for ecommerce service providers that can step in and manage the process - what could be a daunting task for smaller sellers.

"The primary benefit to sellers is the availability of a richer data set, and more rapid data delivery," Van Der Merwe said. "It's a huge opportunity for sellers, but the velocity and volume of information could be quite overwhelming, unless it's managed effectively through a third-party tool that can leverage the data in an automated way."

The featured seller application within the Subscriptions API will revive a popular tool that Amazon phased out when it made the original transition from the Product Advertising API to MWS.

"This API restores some pricing and market data that had been unavailable through the MWS APIs," said Van Der Merwe. "They've essentially moved from a request model to a push model, improving the timeliness of data available to sellers, which is quite a game-changer."

Check out Julia Wilkinson's latest post about Amazon repricing over on the AuctionBytes Blog.


About the author:

Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.


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