Amazon launched a new program to deter resellers who scoop up high-demand, low-supply products like gaming consoles and sell them elsewhere at higher prices (typically on marketplaces like eBay).
A spokesperson provided EcommerceBytes with a statement from Amazon Vice President of Consumer Engagement Llew Mason: “We work hard every day to provide customers with low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery. This includes developing a shopping experience where customers can purchase the items they’re interested in without having to worry about bad actors buying and reselling them at a much higher price.”
Here’s how it works for products in the program: Amazon displays messaging on product detail pages indicating the items are “available by invitation” with a “Request invitation” button. If an invitation to purchase is granted, customers receive an email with instructions on how to purchase the item. There’s no cost to customers, and no membership is required.
The spokesperson told us the reason for the program was to prevent inventory shortages and price gouging caused by robot traffic for high-demand, low supply products. The goal is to ensure genuine customers are able to purchase these products, she said.
Resellers may think of themselves as merely opportunistic, but regular consumers don’t necessarily see it that way. One incident that stands out is #LillyGate2015 when Target ran out of special Lilly Pulitzer items (online and in-store) that were part of its collaboration with the clothing brand, with the items quickly showing up on eBay at high mark-ups. Target took heat from disappointed fans of the brand for mismanaging the limited edition rollout.
In rolling out its new program this week, Amazon referred to such sellers as “bad actors” and said that while they make up a tiny fraction of activity on its site, Amazon was committed to preventing them from negatively impacting the shopping experience for customers.
Amazon is launching the high-demand program starting in the US with PlayStation5 and Xbox Series X game consoles that are sold and fulfilled by Amazon and will expand to other countries and products in the future.
More information on how the program works is available on this help page on Amazon.com.