|Thu May 9 2013 09:19:37|
Is Amazon Giving Away Your Secrets?
By: Ina Steiner
Online merchants work hard on product sourcing, and when they can find a popular item that no one else is selling, they can reap the rewards. Unique products mean no competition and no "race to the bottom" on pricing. But Amazon is making that strategy more difficult for sellers.
Amazon sent out letters to a large number of sellers at the end of April telling them about a new program called the Amazon Virtual Account Manager program (VAM) that offers personalized coaching. In its letter, Amazon wrote that sellers would benefit from a direct relationship with the Amazon Services team, "connecting you with the right business development opportunities and suggested improvements to increase your selling potential."
Now Amazon is following up on that initial email with personalized advice for members of the VAM program in emails with the subject line, "Add offers to in-demand items on Amazon." An EcommerceBytes reader sent a second such email she had received that started off with the following message:
Hello from your Amazon Virtual Account Manager (VAM). Last week, we let you know of an opportunity to add offers to in-demand items that are only being sold by one Seller on the Amazon Marketplace. Here is an updated list.
The email contained a list of products in her category that only one seller carried - Amazon listed the items under the headline, "Top ASINs with only one offer this week." The idea was to encourage her to also sell those items, but her reaction was not one of gratitude for the tip.
"I was correct, they are encouraging my company to list items that are for sale by other sellers," she said. "And presumably they are encouraging my competitors to list items in cases in which we are the only seller. This just produces a race to the bottom pricewise, and everyone, including Amazon, makes less money. Seems to me it's a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face."
The reader was concerned that Amazon was also sending her competitors emails containing her unique items. For sellers who spend a lot of time and energy researching and sourcing so they can have an edge over the competition, it's disappointing to learn Amazon is sharing that information with their competitors.
Here's the rest of the letter she received from Amazon VAM:
As a reminder, here's why should you add offers to ASINs with a single current offer:
- It gives you a great chance to win the Buy Box for that item (keep in mind that only Sellers that qualify for Featured Merchant Status can win the Buy Box).
- Adding an offer to an ASIN with one offer increases the likelihood that a customer will see and purchase that item.
Check out this report daily in Seller Central for a full list of updated opportunities.
Sellers have long been concerned that Amazon uses their sales data internally to compete with sellers directly - it's one of the top concerns among merchants of all sizes. But to learn that Amazon is sharing that data with competitors gives them a whole new area to worry about.
Sellers have also been concerned that eBay category managers share their proprietary sales data with its top sellers.
Not only can merchants use such data on the marketplaces that provide them with this information, they can also use it to populate their stores and across all the venues on which they sell.
Do online marketplaces share such data with you, and do you wish they would? Are you concerned about Amazon (and eBay) sharing such data with your competitors?