Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon May 5 2014 22:50:35

Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

By: Ina Steiner

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As I wrote in an article for Tuesday's EcommerceBytes newsletter, some online sellers are allegedly lifting listings from Etsy and copying them for sale on Amazon, profiting by marking up the items for sale. The presumption is that upon receiving an order on Amazon, the seller would then order the item from the Etsy seller and either have it shipped to themselves or directly to the customer.

As you might imagine, Etsy sellers were dismayed over the practice. There were several issues that gall artisan sellers beyond whether they agree to whether an unauthorized party has the right to sell their items.

- Intellectual property issues - sellers were particularly angry that their photographs were published without their permission.

- Reputation / brand protection - if the third-party Amazon seller provides bad buyer experiences, Etsy sellers worried it could reflect poorly on them.

- Scale - it's a time-consuming process to photograph and describe products and upload them to Etsy, and third-party sellers seem to be able to reproduce their listings on other marketplaces with relative ease.

Debbie Pearson, owner of Creative Chics on Etsy, said she first became aware of a seller selling her goods on Amazon from a customer who notified her they recognized her aprons on the Amazon store - "they were listed at 3-4 times our price," she said.

"The images are copyright protected and definitely my apron images. We use a mannequin in all our photos with the same set of pearls on her for this exact purpose as this is not the first time we have had this happen with an Amazon seller. You can also see from our store our photos are all similar in style and many of our aprons are one of a kind aprons which means another seller trying to make them would be hard pressed to do so."

She also said she couldn't understand the Amazon seller's business model of trying to sell the same item for 3-4 times the fee that she sells them for - "It is possible that this Amazon seller would receive an order then purchase the apron from us and have us ship directly to the buyer," she said.

"The most disconcerting item about this whole situation is that it appears they were able to take all of our images and text and import them into Amazon. The only feasible way I see this was possible is they used the Etsy API to pull our store data. I find this quite alarming as well as all the other sellers who have had their images and text duplicated straight from their Etsy stores."

She added, "even if it isn't the Etsy API being used, I would hope Etsy would step up and be spearheading a solution with Amazon to eliminate this type of online scammer behavior. I would also expect that Etsy would be providing some information or even reassurance to the Etsy online community about the security of the Etsy systems."

You can read more about this in the accompanying article in EcommerceBytes.

What do you think of this "drop-shipping" model, and what should Etsy or Amazon do when a case like this is brought to their attention?



Comments (25) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue May 6 01:32:48 2014

I agree this is slimy behavior byt "scammer" behavior? Scammer implies illegal, and I see nothing here so far that's illegal. Isn't buying/creating and then selling what we all are doing?

There are several messages here:

1. Etsy sellers might be selling their wares too cheaply if the Amazon sellers are actually selling at 3-4 times the Etsy value.

2. Etsy sellers, downloading photos and copying text takes 5 seconds and doesn't require an API.

Doesn't Bonanza say it can import Etsy listings? So it's possible someone developed a very private import program.

3. The first sale doctrine applies to Etsy and Amazon sellers as it does to designer brands.

4. This goes on thousands of times daily on ebay. Ebay says THEY own the photos once uploaded. Does Etsy make the same claim?

5. Add a major disclaimer in Etsy listings.

6. Copyright photos and descriptions.

Otherwise, it seems to me that Etsy sellers are going to have to live with what ebay sellers have been living with for many years.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 05:55:58 2014

Whats good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: KathleenJohnson This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue May 6 06:27:50 2014

1. We need a "Like" agree button so we can "concur" with previous comments.

2. The fact someone else is buying and then selling your item - flattery and free commerce at play.

3. Selling by using your photographs and descriptions - easily corrected if you follow the appropriate steps to report such issues on both platforms.

4. The "hoopla" over this - over dramatic. The corrective measures are already in place and just need to be followed.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue May 6 06:39:32 2014

Yes, please.

I'll ''drop-ship'' for you. But not blind dropshipping. All packages include additional information about my website, special offers, and discounts.

And Ming makes an excellent point about pricing... if this ever becomes a ''problem'' for me, then I'd definitely consider adjusting my prices upward just a bit.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 06:52:57 2014

Since they changed their guidelines last year, pretty much anything goes on Etsy.  There are thousands of resellers from all over the world who blithely list their items as handmade even though they have the same dress or piece of jewelry in every size and color imaginable.  Examples:  do a search for "bubble necklace"  or "bridesmaid dress"  and see what you get.  I totally agree with the poster above who said maybe the apron lady should look at her own prices if they can be doubled or tripled and still be re-sold.  They're lovely aprons, but I see she's getting around $50 each on Etsy which seems to me to be pushing it.  I hope she gets it straightened out to her satisfaction, but the truth is, I don't think the guys at Etsy really care about much more than covering their own liabilities and making money.  That's just the way it is.  Buyer and Seller beware.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Tue May 6 07:07:35 2014

Debbie (the Etsy seller) was philosophical about the issue - and I mentioned that in the accompanying Newsflash article:

""Anyone can buy our product and resell at their own price point today whether online or in a brick-n-mortar store," she wrote. "We only sell our product at our retail cost and do not offer wholesale pricing; so if a customer is willing to buy our product at current retail price, mark it up and resell it, more power to them. I received what I set out to make on my product so I don't have any complaints. If an online shopper didn't shop around, they only have themselves to blame.""

As to pricing - this particular Amazon seller was new, and there's nothing to say he or she will get those higher prices.

But since that that seller has very little invested, a handful of sales across the thousands of listings they posted would make it quite a profitable venture.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 07:30:32 2014

with people's desire to make easy living selling on the Internet, this becomes a huge jungle. let's say that another seller find that Aamzon product and offers it on his site with a mark up, hoping to get it quickly from Amazon if it is sold on his site...what a chaos...people offering to sell thing they don't have..greed does not know the limits

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 07:34:21 2014

by "ming"
Doesn't Bonanza say it can import Etsy listings? So it's possible someone developed a very private import program."

It can but you have to have to give Bonanza the password and log in info so they can do it.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: sickandtired This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 07:34:34 2014

I'm very torn about this issue.....never approved of drop shipping from the time ebay started to allow it.

As sellers we are held responsible for everything about the items we sell, but one really has no control over that if the item is not in hand.

The Etsy sellers need only state a policy of mailing only to the purchaser of the item, which in this case would be the Amazon seller. Then that seller is free to do whatever with the goods.

If you buy an  item from me and think you can resell it at a show, in your booth or online and make a profit, then good for you, but don't expect me to do all the work and take responsibility for the packing and shipping to your customer with whom I have no relationship and no chance of working with if there is a problem.

This situation is not true "DROP SHIPPING" because the goods owner/producer has not entered into  an agreement with the Amazon seller to be their source.

Perhaps this Amazon seller's so called business model will blow up in his face if he cannot fulfill a bunch of orders. After all, he is pre-selling items, getting paid for them then trying to purchase them from Etsy sellers or where ever.

I don't sell on the river so I don't know if sale cancellations and refunds for "out of stock"are held against the seller, but they certainly are going to be on ebay

If the A seller wants to buy and pay for a dozen aprons, put them in his inventory then sell on then that's fair game. Not so to put the original seller in the position of being asked to mail to an unknown 3rd party.

I have always felt that on ebay it should have been required that any listing where the item is not in the physical possession of the seller should clearly be identified as a DROP SHIP listing so that the buyer knows exactly what he is dealing with.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: elgatto This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 08:35:27 2014

Amazon allows sellers to copy a listing from another seller including photos, titles, etc. To dispute this practice your website or original material must be copyright protected. A statement of copyright isn't sufficient. You must have the material registered with the US Copyright Office and have a registration number from them. You can copyright an entire website with all information on it-   photoes, titles, descriptions- registered at one time.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue May 6 08:52:24 2014

>>I don't sell on the river so I don't know if sale cancellations and refunds for "out of stock" are held against the seller, but they certainly are going to be on ebay<<

Yes, Amazon does hold it against a seller if they make too many refunds and cancellations.

I find it interesting that a 'new' seller is doing this. They obviously have to be an experienced seller from somewhere, only with a new name and IP address to fool Amazon, because what new seller in their right mind could dream this up and put it into practice with so many items right off the bat? I could understand if they had bought all those items and then put them up for sale at a higher price, but that begs the question who can afford to do that when they are new with I would suppose no feedback. I well remember the early days when I sold books on Amazon and a certain seller named Justin Cox also was selling there and all his listings were a good 3-5 times the next highest price. Took me a long time to understand that he was drop shipping, but I never could understand why anyone would pay his asking price of $78 or whatever for something that I had for $18, yet his feedback showed lots of sales. either the American buying public is very gullible or something, but I just couldn't understand that at all!

I do understand the Etsy seller's concern about the use of their copyrighted pictures and listing text being copied. They need to band together, hire themselves a lawyer to send that Amazon seller a nicely worded letter to scare the pants off of them, telling them that unless the listings are taken down immediately they will be sued for the copyright violations and made to pay for each and every item that they have sold using an illegal manner.

While selling on line is not the quick and easy thing that some make it out to be, however selling on line in an honest and ethical manner can be very rewarding both personally and to a seller's wallet. I don't know how these cheats can sleep at night.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: evie flackman This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 09:18:44 2014

I use, and have used since 1997, a free service from Digimarc.  It not only places a watermark which can be invisible on your images, it assigns a unique number to your mark which allows you to search for your images anywhere on the net, run reports, etc.  It has been an invaluable tool for me, plus I can run logs, etc. Go to http://www.digimarc.com/digimarc-for-images/small-business-edition and check it out.  Amazon has the same rules as everybody else as far as copyright infringement and applying your digimarc watermark before uploading your images is all the proof you need as it registers with Digimark. The thief will always lose.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: kec This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 09:53:03 2014

I have had the same exact problem. A buyer uses my UPC codes, pictures, everything from Amazon and lists on Ebay and vice versa. Then if they sell the item, that's when they will buy it from me. One guy told me that he does this all the time with all kinds of products. The only problem I have, is that I do not want them using my pictures and UPC codes because they cost me money. I also think this is a poor way for them to do business. If they sell the item, but I am out of stock, then they have to inform their buyers they are out of stock. If sellers want to do business this way, they need to purchase the item, take their own pictures, and if they need a UPC code, buy their own. The other problem is that when this type of seller buys the item and it doesn't sell, they then return it to the original seller. This type of reseller is causing a lot of problems.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: NYSteve This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 10:45:53 2014

That's so funny. I read this article as  'Etsy gives exclusives to stores importing handicrafts'.
I know this case is different, but Etsy removed my store of 'honestly declared' imported handicrafts, then I see Etsy is loaded with imported handicrafts which stores claim they design and make themselves (nearly identical products as mine)

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: NYSteve This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 10:53:42 2014

some good comments here. BUT did this seller ever look on ETSY, maybe they are selling the same item on that site too. From my experience Etsy is not so perfect. So many items on Etsy I see are mass produced, and like any 'craft show', the artist claims it is theirs. Not saying this is the case with this blogger, but there are issues on Etsy, without having to compare 'the other side'

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 11:12:31 2014

If your design isn't copyrighted and its an item with good sales you can expect it to be copied and sold elsewhere.  Sad but true.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: SparklyEyes7 This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 11:39:48 2014

You can't copyright a design.  Hence, why you see knockoffs of designer dresses within 48 hours of being in the runway.  They just can't call it a specific designer name dress.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue May 6 20:25:12 2014

This seems like a very risky business model, hoping that the item(s) you've just sold can still be purchased from the actual seller. I guess the seller in question doesn't care, but I would be too paranoid that something would go wrong somewhere.  

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 20:45:03 2014

I am pretty sure Etsy like eBay could give a rats patootie if ANYONE for ANY reason steals YOUR images or descriptions or anything ELSE for that matter.

I had images stolen and listed for sale an item I am pretty sure the "seller" did not have;  since I was the ONLY other seller of these items and he surely was NOT going to pay MY price and re-sell for MUCH LESS.  

I complained nicely to the thief; I complained nicely to eBay; I complained NOT so nicely to both of them and got absolutely NOWHERE.  I even tracked down the OTHER photos the guy had posted for his "sales"  and found that all of THEM were stolen and not from ebay either;  and that THOSE images owners had been complaining about this same guy for a LONG time.  

Did eBay DO anything?  Nope.  

The ONLY thing that more or less WORKED was to go to the Judge in our town and have HIM agree to let me SUE the guy if he continued.

This sadly is the ONLY language these places understand.  

BTW---the seller is no longer selling--but up til the last he had stolen images on his listings. And he made very NASTY comments about ME trying to STOP him from selling --IN HIS LISTING--did eBay CARE about that?  Trashing a seller in your listing?  

Nope.

Perminate Link for Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers   Etsy Sellers Object to Amazon Copycat Drop-Shippers

by: zvicki This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 6 21:11:03 2014

There is one issue here that I saw no one else address:

If a unique artisan is making hand made items, do they not have immediate "copyright" assigned to their items just as artists do?

Weather it's an oil painting or a song of music, most anyone re-selling a "modern" artist's item need permission from the original artist to use it?

So all other things aside, the Etsy sellers, I think should also be protected if items are their original creations?

The other thing - doesn't Amazon have a "vero" type thing for individual works of art?

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