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Amazon Feature Helps Avoid Costly Pricing Errors

You may have heard about the recent pricing glitch at Delta Airlines that let shoppers scoop up ultra-cheap flights. Fares that normally cost thousands of dollars went for double digits.

It’s every seller’s nightmare to inadvertently sell their stock for less than cost, and in the fall, Amazon launched a new feature that helps third-party merchants avoid such costly blunders.

But Amazon Price Alerts go further than simply notifying sellers that their items are priced outside of a normal range – Amazon actually deactivates listings in some cases if the merchant hasn’t adjusted the settings.

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Some sellers were taken by surprise when they noticed Amazon had deactivated some of their listings, and they took to the Amazon boards to discuss it. The Monsoon listing platform seemed caught off guard too when contacted by customers, and confirmed the new feature upon further investigation:

“We dove into this issue a little deeper and confirmed that Amazon has released a new Price Alerts feature that uses various metrics to identify items they believe aren’t pricing correctly (too high or too low). When Amazon detects a potential “pricing error,” they notify the seller and deactivate the listing.”

Monsoon explains how to adjust the settings if desired, which are called “Deactivate offers when prices are potentially too low” and “Deactivate offers when prices are potentially too high.” Sellers can have them checked or unchecked, and some may choose to leave the first checkbox checked so they can avoid mistakenly selling items below cost and uncheck the box for deactivating prices that are potentially too high.

The settings are not an issue for merchants who use the marketplace’s minimum and maximum price settings. According to the letter Amazon sends merchants upon deactivating their listings, “If you do not use the minimum and maximum price settings, our systems will continue to use internal data to help detect potential pricing errors.”

Pricing on Amazon is extremely fluid – the stockboy’s pricing gun has been replaced with automatic repricing software that can rapidly adjust to changing conditions, and sellers can find themselves in the same pickle as Delta if they aren’t careful.

The full letter Amazon sends to sellers in cases where it has deactivated their listings follows:

Dear Seller,
We are contacting you because we have detected potential pricing errors in your Amazon.com product listings. To avoid a potentially negative customer experience caused by mispriced items, we have deactivated these listings.

These deactivated listings are marked in Manage Inventory with a Status of “Inactive (Pricing Error)”. You can also view these deactivated listings by using the “Potential pricing error” filter under the “Fix Price Alerts” view on the left-hand side of Manage Inventory.

To reactivate your listings, use Manage Inventory to:

  • update your offer price, or
  • confirm your offer price by setting your minimum price and maximum price so that your offer price is within the minimum and maximum price range. We will alert you in the future if your price falls outside your price range. If you do not use the minimum and maximum price settings, our systems will continue to use internal data to help detect potential pricing errors.

If you have a Professional selling account, you can also use the Inventory Loader file or the Price & Quantity file to update your prices as well as your minimum and maximum prices. For more information, search in Seller Central Help for the terms “Unblocking Your Listings”, “Inventory Loader”, and “Price and Quantity”.

If you have questions or need assistance, log in to your Seller Central account and click the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page. For feedback about this pricing error program, please send an e-mail to listing-error-feedback@amazon.com.
Thank you for selling on Amazon,
Your Amazon Services Team

Some sellers seemed upset to learn of the new feature, but others said as long as they could adjust the settings, they had no problem with it.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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