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Amazon Glitch Catches Attention of Wall Street

The fact that a marketplace such as Amazon could have a glitch is not surprising to any experienced online seller – or anyone who uses computers, for that matter. But in thinking back to all the glitches that eBay and Amazon sellers have had to deal with, it’s difficult to recall when Wall Street analysts paid any attention to them unless they were actual site outages.

But yesterday, an analyst issued a report about an Amazon glitch titled, “Amazon Search Glitch Occurring Now.”

Sun Trust’s Bob Peck, who is no novice to the ecommerce space, issued the report to advise clients about a glitch impacting Amazon search. “We have noticed that Amazon appears to have a glitch occurring in its search results and it is having an impact across a couple of categories, according to their seller forums,” he wrote.

Pointing to this discussion thread, he continued, “While it appears that the impact was primarily today, in speaking to one seller the glitch appears to be accelerating. It is unclear if this is a glitch related to an Amazon software update or a hacking. The impact of the glitch on Amazon is unknown at this moment as it depends on the magnitude and length. As a shopper you are not aware that your item is available as the listings are suppressed (not showing) leaving you to think Amazon does not have it in stock.”

Amazon explains Suppressed Listings in its help file, stating, “Our research shows that listings with complete product information, including images, category (item-type), and titles (parent titles) with less than 80 characters improve the shopping experience by making it easier for customers to find, evaluate, and purchase products. As a result, we will hide (or suppress) from search and browse non-media listings that do not meet certain standards.”

Peck has attended many ecommerce conferences, and analysts such as himself frequently check in with online merchants to help them gauge the health of publicly traded companies such as Amazon and eBay. Clearly one seller was upset about the problem and was able to get Peck’s attention.

Peck described how to readers could experience the problem:

Example. For investors to test and see for themselves, they should go to Amazon and search for “Just Dance 3 Wii” – they will notice the result that is returned is for the Katy Perry Bonus Track version and it is otherwise not available, despite STRH having confirmed it is available from sellers. However, if one does the same search for Just Dance 3 but for PlayStation 3 (not the Wii), Just Dance 3 PS3 will appear as the top result. Further, one will see 3 more links under that top listing, including 1 for the Wii version. However, clicking on the Wii link brings the person back to Just Dance 3 for the PS3.

EcommerceBytes reached out to Amazon late on Tuesday evening to learn more about the glitch.

Peck wrote, “It is unclear how big this impact can be, but we wanted to point out to investors in case the problem persists.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.