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Amazon Cracks Down on Opportunistic Resellers

Amazon Cracks Down on Opportunistic Resellers

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.

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

11 thoughts on “Amazon Cracks Down on Opportunistic Resellers”

  1. How much of an impact do you think this will have on eBay, which is where consumers often turn to for high-demand low-supply goods?

  2. “[…]without having to worry about bad actors buying and reselling them at a much higher price.”

    So, does Amazon consider themselves a “bad actor?” Or did they somehow figure out a way to be worth $1.25 TRILLION by selling items at a loss?

    1. @GetAGrip…it is called the FREE MARKET. You may not like it, but it is not illegal. I have no issues with a seller limiting the number of units someone can buy. But you should be allowed to sell something at any price it will fetch.

      Look at car prices right now. You have people buying a Corvette and flipping it for a $20K profit.

      And these types of sales are a VERY small portion of EBAY’s business. They would be just fine without them.

      1. Precisely. More economic warfare being waged against Middle Class America.
        Because they CAN.

        1. How is middle America harmed by bad actors being thwarted? Do explain.

  3. Ahhh…. amazon LOVES Capitalism when AMAZON can abuse it. Not so much when so-called ‘bad actors’ do it.

    Perhaps amazon should take a good, long look in the mirror.
    This BIG TECH once again using it’s monolithic power to inflict economic warfare on the Middle Class in America.

    “Rules for thee, but not for me.” (taxes, too.)
    Astounding hypocrisy, no?

  4. @madamH

    %1000 correct

    lets not shed tears for Amazon and what ever protection BS they spout

    Im sure that when they gate brands from sellers, steal their money, provide D level overseas CS plus much more – it CONCERNS THEM, it doesnt

    Capitalism only works – when its in THEIR favor

    As for eBay – they will always have PLENTY of Goodwill, and Flea Market Youtube seller millionaires – not to worry

    Besides – life itself is about OPPORTUNITY – its how buying ans selling works

    much ado about nothing

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