Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Nov 30 2015 14:54:22

Should Amazon and eBay Pressure Sellers on Pricing?

By: Ina Steiner

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Price gouging, or supply-and-demand? However you look at it, eBay and Amazon take very different approaches to seller pricing, as some Amazon sellers recently learned.

Amazon sent the following letter to a European seller in the Toy category this month:

"You are receiving this email because you are listing one or more ASINs in the Toys category. We have noticed in the past that certain popular Toy ASINs have been sold above the recommended retail price during the holiday season, creating a poor shopping experience for customers. 

"At Amazon, we give the utmost importance to ensuring a great shopping experience for customers. Hence, we reserve the buybox award for eligible ASINs that are listed at competitive prices and the buybox will not be awarded to offers with a price above the recommended retail price. 

"You can review your prices for your listings using the new "Pricing dashboard" on Seller Central. Please help us to offer the best shopping experience to customers by ensuring that your listings are competitively priced."

Traditionally eBay thrives on supply-and-demand pricing where buyers may end up paying much more than the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) - that's the auction format in a nutshell - and it works well for collectibles and unique items (longtail inventory, as many call it).

But now that eBay has moved to offer fixed-price commodities, it too wants to encourage sellers to price low, as we covered in this AuctionBytes blog post from last year.

eBay too is sure to be factoring in price in its Best Match algorithm, which determines an item's exposure in search results. Let us know what you think of Amazon and eBay trying to influence sellers' pricing, and how it impacts you.




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Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Nov 30 15:25:24 2015

I for one want no part of a race to the bottom as it relates to pricing. Just give it to the Chinese eBay and Amazon. We don't sell mass manufactured commodities so I'm not sure that either of these platforms are right for us anymore.

Neither of these companies know how to butt out of sellers' businesses.

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by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 30 16:20:02 2015

I would guess if you were a carrot jumper you would do as Ebay requests.

The rest of us free thinkers will do as we want with pricing.

Buyers need to find out how the BACK button works if they don't like the price.

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by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 30 16:50:43 2015

"Poor shopping experience?" Whatever happened to Supply & Demand? Show me how I can point a GUN at the head of some internet customer, and demand that he hand over his dough!

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Nov 30 17:04:44 2015

Should Amazon and eBay Pressure Sellers on Pricing?
NO. That's just insane. UnAmerican. Anti free market commerce.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Nov 30 17:06:20 2015

Amazon willfully creates the opportunity to price gouge every November when it shuts out small sellers and reduces competition.

Amazon has three choices:
1.  Provide a level playing field so the market completion can work.
2.  Become the sole supplier of toys.
3.  Shut up.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Nov 30 17:06:56 2015

market competition, I mean (stupid autocorrect)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Nov 30 17:19:31 2015


I don't sell on Amazon - can only speak from buyer perspective.  

Amazon & Walmart are duking it out like Rock 'em Sock 'em Retail 'bots.  Both are offering lots of incentives and deals on the very same items.  As a buyer the first thing I compare is price.  Usually the same at both places.


Then I compare incentives beyond price.  I've been yammering on about (and taking advantage of) the 10% cash back deal Amazon has with my Bank Card - btw some stuff I ordered Saturday is here already!   Not to be outdone, Walmart just sent a $20 off an $80 purchase discount code.



And eBay....well....  I list stuff there. And when it doesn't sell I re-list, and the little window suggests I lower my price. Either I do or I don't. Then my listing gets to play peek-a-boo with buyers.  

I DO buy there, but usually OOAK / pre-owned items.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Nov 30 17:29:19 2015

It's really rich to see Amazon crying about high prices.  Nobody signs up for Amazon to do that.  Higher fees, shipping shortfalls, and being locked out of the busiest time of year force them too...unless it drives them off instead.

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by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 30 19:08:03 2015

One of the many reasons I dont sell on Amazon. I want to set my price, no matter how much over retail it is. If it doesnt sell at that price, that is my problem and I adjust accordingly.

I thought price fixing was illegal anyhow?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Nov 30 19:42:15 2015

I agree with Rexford and really many others that have posted.  My pricing is my business.  Ebay nor Amazon know what my costs are and it isn't any of their business.  If my pricing is too high, then it most likely won't sell and the customer will get it from another seller.  OR the customer may CHOOSE to purchase it from me.  

They are both Venues and wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if they acted like it.

For Amazon especially this subject is a bit annoying.  They price gouge on shipping all the time.    

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Nov 30 20:10:29 2015

"...creating a poor shopping experience for customers."

I'm sorry that the prices I think are reasonable for a 20-year-old collectible may cause a poor shopping experience. As Marie stated, if buyers don't like what I'm asking for my items, then they can buy from another seller.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Nov 30 20:14:09 2015

Amazon and eBay in this case are two different business models.

Amazon is both a marketplace and a seller of goods while eBay is solely a marketplace that relies solely on third party sellers to stock their shelves.

Amazon can afford a race to the bottom on pricing.  eBay has applied various methods in an attempt to influence seller pricing that largely fails to produce the desired result.

Amazon has few problems and can well afford to pressure sellers over low pricing.

eBay on the other hand has many problems, and eBay's drive to push sellers to the bottom on pricing is largely a failure.

In the past, eBay pushed sellers to list items with added value.... for example - a PC video card with an adapter to allow for a dual monitor configuration bundled together to offer buyers a better value.

For the sake of example, the video card sold as a stand alone unit might retail for $15.00 with shipping included. Again for sake of example, the adapter that would allow the buyer to take advantage of the dual monitor capability of that video card retails separately for $8.00. Both items offer shipping included in the selling price.

Now, another seller might offer the same video card and bundle the dual monitor adapter and offer the package for $19.00 with shipping included. That seller can afford that listing price because they are not shipping the items separately.

While eBay's efforts to encourage value bundling does offer buyers a better value, the problem becomes eBay's treatment of sellers who list items using the value bundling concept.

eBay's defective Best Match search favors items at the low end of the retail scale when showing results.  This penalizes a seller who is offering a bundled package because that bundle is priced above eBay's so called "average" price criteria.

Bottom line is that eBay's recommendation to offer value bundles to buyers ends up being defeated by eBay's Best Match Search since the results will likely show the higher priced bundle at the bottom of search results - IF Best Match chooses to surface the bundled listing at all.  Buyers may likely never see the bundled listings sellers offer on the site because eBay is too focused on price to the detriment of value.

As usual, eBay attempts to create value for buyers and then builds systems that defeat the very goal.

This is typical of so many counter intuitive decisions made by eBay's inept management.  This kind of failure illustrates how completely inept eBay's management has become and reflects eBay's inability to grow sales volume in their marketplace.


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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Nov 30 20:50:32 2015

In this case, I don't find that Ebay pressures sellers anywhere near as much as jAmazon does.  While Ebay has plenty of faults, IMHO Amazon takes the lead on this one.

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by: FLIPPER This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 30 23:01:38 2015

I for one, do not understand how sites such as Amazon, can claim to be just "venues" when there is this level of "meddling" in probably the most important part of any independent business. Just goes to show what Amazon and Ebay think of THEIR (possesive intentionally highlighted) sellers.  

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by: FLIPPER This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 30 23:02:18 2015

I for one, do not understand how sites such as Amazon, can claim to be just "venues" when there is this level of "meddling" in probably the most important part of any independent business. Just goes to show what Amazon and Ebay think of THEIR (possesive intentionally highlighted) sellers.

P.S. have no desire for this and many other reasons to sell opn AMZN

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 1 00:29:44 2015

It makes no sense to price low because they don't get as much FVF for the sale.  Think about it.  Would you rather get FVF from a $100 scarf or a $10 scarf?
AMZ has gotten very restrictive and dictatorial.  You can't sell some items unless they are "new", like baby monitors, DVDs, and they restrict you from selling toys in the Xmas season.
But I sell at the price I can make a profit, regardless of what AMZ and EB want us to do.
They get more money when the item sells higher.  

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by: BB2 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 1 00:38:42 2015

@Ric - Great point!!! Sometimes you get so used to the inadequacies of a "platform," you forget how inadequate they really are.

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 1 00:39:30 2015

If you have to sell your items for a buck over wholesale price to compete with Asian sellers or idiots who have nothing better to do, have a local sale and pocket cash. No fees, no returns, no hassle. In sheer numbers the Asians can out sell any item and take over the internet and any venue, including Amazon. I think most sellers selling items made in Asian countries will be out of business within the next two years or selling at a loss.  
If you have to sell your items for 99 cents, you might as well have a garage sale and charge a quarter for everything you sell because that is more than you are getting on any of the venues after fees, shipping supplies, returns, etc. Also you will sell out within a few hours and be done with it.  

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by: cash4clothesbozeman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 1 01:06:24 2015

Did you ever get this one from a buyer? "So and so has this item for sale in a different size/color and I am only willing to offer what they are asking". I sold some jeans a while back for 6800 each.  I had other folks tell me the jeans are ready for the rag bag.  At the end of the day it is not the railcars that drive the train, its the engine.  As a buyer they want it for free with free shipping and to arrive yesterday.  Thanks
cash4clothesbozeman  

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Tue Dec 1 01:09:05 2015

Stay out of my bedroom, and stay out of my pricing!

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