Selling on Amazon is becoming a minefield, sellers are reporting to EcommerceBytes and on industry discussion boards, citing a laundry list of problems. Complaints are just as loud for conditions in gated categories where sellers must get approval from Amazon before selling in those categories.
"I am guessing you are aware of the many suspensions that are occurring in the Jewelry category followed up by a long term punishment of reduced search exposure, lasting anywhere from 4-24 months of almost no sales," one seller wrote to EcommerceBytes. "And all of this is for minor or relatively minor infractions or violations of the FTC guidelines for selling precious metals and gemstones OR for violations of Amazon Guidelines which in some cases are stricter than the FTC."
Perusing the Amazon discussion boards reveals many complaints about the company's practices. One gripe is that Amazon's own listings and those of overseas sellers are not held to the same standards as domestic sellers.
Amazon has published several pages outlining requirements for selling jewelry, and a seller said the documents conflict one another and said Amazon doesn't make it clear when changes are made, making it difficult for sellers to keep up to date.
Adding to the complexity, the seller said: "Seller Support will tell you conflicting information to the documents." That is indeed the case - we saw one instance where an Amazon moderator acknowledged that Seller Support had given a seller incorrect information.
One seller with whom we spoke said there are several ways jewelry sellers can get into trouble through no fault of their own. One way is when Amazon makes changes to a product page that can cause the seller to be out of compliance.
Another way is when a different seller, known as a piggybacker, sells a copycat item and makes changes to the page. On this Amazon Help page
, it states, "All unbranded jewelry products must be listed on separate seller-created detail pages. Except for branded designer jewelry and jewelry accessories that include manufacturer UPC codes, sellers may not match against existing selection in the Jewelry category."
However, sellers say Amazon does not actually prevent sellers from piggybacking, and the original seller may not discover this has happened. (Piggybacking seems to occur across many categories.)
The Amazon boards are also full of complaints about the testing process to which Amazon subjects jewelry listings.
Selling clothing items can be equally frustrating, as we report in tomorrow (Thursday's) Newsflash (available now
Jewelry and Clothing aren't the only categories where sellers report problems. A seller on this Amazon discussion board thread
talks about the problem they are having with an alleged copycat competitor who is underpricing them in the Electronics category.
"Indeed is very frustrating, and selling on Amazon is getting wore than what eBay used to be before VeRO," another seller responded.
Another seller wrote, "we too have copy-cat sellers on our products that despite test buys, proof of branding, Brand Registry etc we can't seem to "shake off" our listings."
Is Amazon responsible for the challenging environment, and what would you tell the company to do to make things better for sellers and their customers?