eBay, Etsy, Mercari, Poshmark, and OfferUp joined forces to fight what they see as dire threats to their base of small sellers. Noticeably absent from the clique: Amazon.
eBay CEO Jamie Iannone posted on LinkedIn
today that the companies were "working together to put sellers first and make sellers' voices heard when lawmakers are creating policies that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs."
The five online marketplaces formed the Coalition to Protect America's Small Sellers (PASS Coalition) to lobby lawmakers on regulations they believe will deter casual sellers and micro businesses from selling on their sites.
One issue the group will fight is the effort to pass Marketplace Verification Requirements
that would require online marketplaces to vet and disclose the personal information of third-party sellers.
Poshmark's Amber McCasland said: "Requiring our sellers - many of whom are women casually selling items from their closets - to publicly disclose personally identifiable information is of great concern as doing so may compromise their privacy, security, and ability to thrive."
In addition, according to the PASS Coalition website, requiring sellers to provide "extensive information about themselves" would likely deter people from listing items for sale. "As a result, fewer goods - including those that are refurbished - would be made available to consumers."
A second issue the PASS Coalition is fighting is what it refers to as "Burdensome Collection Requirements
" having to do with new requirements around 1099-Ks, which we wrote about on March 7th in,
The PASS Coalition said the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 would result in businesses having to collect social security numbers and addresses for the individuals who earn income through their platforms.
That particular argument is perplexing, since eBay and Etsy already collect that information from sellers since they took on the task of payment processing on their respective marketplaces.
The PASS Coalition said it was actively working to educate members of Congress about the impact the change in law would have on casual sellers. "As part of that process the Coalition considering a number of potential fixes and are hopeful that a solution can be obtained before the end of the calendar year."
OfferUp's General Counsel Nathan Garnett said the individuals and small businesses that buy and sell local items on its platform lacked representation in state and federal capitols, "making them uniquely vulnerable to inadvertent harm from otherwise well-intentioned legislation."
And Mercari's Chief Compliance Officer Lisa Lechner said consumer-to-consumer marketplaces like Mercari were critical resources for Americans who needed to supplement their income, which she said had been especially true during the pandemic.
Note that the executive director of the new group, Chris Lamond, is founding partner of government relations firm Thorn Run Partners and a paid lobbyist for eBay, according to OpenSecrets.org
The PASS Coalition doesn't mention Amazon - nor is there any mention of why it's not a member - but it does refer to "blended retail marketplaces," an apparent reference to the model Amazon employs: selling side-by-side with third-party sellers.
In the section of its website on marketplace verification requirements, the PASS Coalition states in part, "When shopping on our sites you know you are interacting with a third party seller with their information conspicuously available. It's not hidden a couple of clicks away like on larger blended retail marketplaces. A one size fits all disclosure requirement would result in millions of everyday Americans forced to share personally identifiable information on every product they list on a marketplace."
At the prompting of a reader in the comment below, here is some additional context. In the fall, an association of large retailers, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, launched the "Buy Safe America Coalition" in support of the INFORM Consumers Act.
Yesterday, the PASS Coalition said one of the first pieces of pending legislation it would confront was the INFORM Consumers Act.
The Buy Safe America Coalition immediately struck back
with a press release questioning the veracity of some of the PASS Coalition's statements.
The battle is between traditional retailers and online marketplaces, with serious consequences for small sellers.