Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Mar 10 2015 21:29:26

Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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There are increasing reports from sellers that they are being banned from sourcing products at chain stores like Kohl's. But why would the store care what shoppers do with the items once they leave the store with their purchases?

The strategy of sourcing items from retail stores to sell on eBay has been around from the beginning - remember this story from 2007 about Pottery Barn banning eBay sellers? But the "arbitrage" movement has really gained steam in recent years.

Part of the reason for popularity of retail arbitrage is Amazon FBA - the hope among entrepreneurs that they can pick up items that are heavily discounted at nearby stores and send them to Amazon FBA for fulfillment.

A YouTube video posted in September showed a person who had just scored 30 flashlight sets at Kohl's for $10.49 on clearance with a retail price of $34.99. She walks through the Kohl's store with her camera on filming the products on the shelves. 



She then shows how she picked out a bunch of different items, sat down in an aisle of the store and scanned them on her phone to find out how much money she could make sending them to Amazon FBA.

We've also seen sellers discuss the use of store rewards cards for their product-sourcing purchases, a practice that might rub retailers the wrong way.

It's not just in-store purchases either - some sellers say they've been virtually banned from purchasing on chainstore websites as well.

What do you think - are online sellers the "bad buyers" of the brick-and-mortar store? Or are the stores cutting off their nose to spite their face - a sale's a sale, no matter who makes it?

Share your thoughts, war stories, and tips.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 10 21:44:30 2015

40 years in sales. I can tell you , no-one likes another, to make money on their product.

I look for deals , & jump at opportunity to make money. When retailers catch on , They just dont like it.

This does not make a bad buyer , maybe a smart one.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: wellspring This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 10 23:06:41 2015

So what are the Kohl's employees or management doing? Escorting the person out of the store? Calling the police? What if I'm just comparing Kohl's price to my Amazon Prime price to see what is the better deal? A sale is a sale. Get over it Kohl's or lose customers. Word travels fast.  

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 10 23:07:58 2015

So they cant sell it at regular price, put it on clearance, sells it and are fine. Until they learn that a reseller is selling it. Nope! Once I buy something, it is mine to do with what I want by law. Any retailer who does this runs the risk of pissing off buyers to the point that they will lose them. I dont buy much from Kohls but I wont buy ANYTHING from them if they start this. I stopped shopping at Coach when they started pulling the same stuff years ago.  

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 10 23:28:13 2015

Gizmo I have to disagree with you. I love when people try to make money off me when they make a purchase. Sometimes they do and that's great! I still made money when I sold it. In most cases they fail and end up losing money or getting stuck with the product before they have to discount it as well. The flashlights the lady above had are cheap looking and likely had a huge markup to be marked down. No one online is going to spend $35 for them. If they are banning customers they are shooting themselves in the foot. I always welcome resellers!

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 10 23:28:29 2015

I think part of the problem is some sellers buy at extreme discount and then expect the retailer to accept the return when the eBay seller can't sell it. Several store managers here know I buy for eBay (some even call me when they're about to do a major markdown), but they also know I don't return what I can't sell.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Mar 10 23:45:07 2015

If Kohl's succeeds in banning eBay/Amazon sellers from making purchases, their same store sales volume will surely drop. Who in their right mind refuses a volume buyer?

That will not make investors very happy and their stock will suffer.

If the stock suffers, Kohl's will quietly step back from this policy and the genius who came up with it will probable end up working for eBay where stupidity and short sightedness rules the day.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Tue Mar 10 23:56:01 2015

Kohls is already pushing it with their deceptive marketing where NOTHING sells at their fake marked up ''regular'' prices.They mark it down 50% to what would be the true regular price and then send out coupons so the consumer feels like they are getting a bargain. Kohls isn't the only store doing this but they seem more blatant.

Kohls doesn't like sellers getting a better profit than what they could manage.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 00:09:11 2015

I dare say they wouls JUMP at the chance to buy out another store and resell those products at a huge markup....are they angry that someone else is as greedy as they are?  It's called Commercialism - without it we'd all be Communists!

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 00:10:56 2015

only way they could enforce this is to put a limit on how many of one item someone could buy, even then they don't know what the person is going to use them for.

personally i'm happy to sell to other dealers.  i've marked the book at the price i want, if they can do better with it... great!

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: iwasjoe This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 00:22:10 2015

My wife shops at kohls so I go in with her. What I see is items marked up 300 to 400% then marked down 75% which makes them still over priced they should be happy to get a customer in there store period. I wonder how do they tell a customer they won't sell anything to them. I suggest they put fair prices on items maybe they would sell it then it will not be on clearance.    

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 00:42:27 2015

I had two people buy things with the intent to re-sell them--one person I KNEW and when she was looking at an item I had at my yard sale I said--I have had that on ebay and could not sell it for love nor money.  She laughed and bought it--for a bunch more than I paid for it--and went home and out it on ebay.  Where it sat.  For months!  She ended up selling it for a loss.  Now--I don't feel bad because I HAD warned her. And she is a friend and we have helped each other in the past.  But--I TOLD her!

Another person bought something from me for $200 that I had paid $2 for.  She then tried to lie about condition--and then when that failed to get a "refund"  or a "Lowered price"  she listed it on ---ebay!  And-When I discovered this (I don't mind her trying to flip it) I "followed"  it.  She has just REDUCED the price she is asking to LESS than what she PAID for it--on a BIN/BO.

Well --I wish her joy of this.

Kohls and Target etc should be HAPPY that anyone wants their Chinese made crapola at their (particularly KOHLS) inflated prices. As another poster mentioned this "False Advertising" that KOHLS does is off-putting and possibly illegal. Since they never seem to actually OFFER their items FOR those "Starter" prices--they really are NOT "lowering"  them.  And that KOHLS KASH---yeah; is it me or does no one ever remember to go back and USE that before it expires?

I have bought a few--a very few--things at Kohls and was not really impressed.  Some of their "name brands"  are lower end stuff made FOR them by the brands---and since the last pair of name brand kids snow boots fell apart almost at once--nope;  not going back there any time soon.

Target has "special" designer items that are in artificially short supply to drive the price UP and MOST of them are scooped up by stalkers--er---dedicated shoppers--and offered on ebay for HUGELY inflated prices before the buyer even leaves the retail store.  Are they "worth"  what you pay on ebay?  Guess it depends on how much YOU love it!

I am however jealous of those who DO find these "bargains"  and YES I do re-sell when I can find something;  even our local thrift stores will try and tell you that you are not ALLOWED to re-sell THEIR items--after YOU paid for them! So far no one has "outed me"  on this but really---if they put a price on it and I pay that price--what ARE they crying about?  If they are not interested in doing their home work and asking a different price--is this MY fault? Some will have a print out of a similar item ON EBAY propped up in the show case---funny how these are NEVER for SOLD items!

And---how long after I buy something from the thrift store do I have to WAIT before I can re-sell it?  What if it doesn't fit?  OR if it really does not "match"  my dogs eyes?  Do I have to re-donate it?  Do I have to wait 6 months?  A year?  Another friend owns a consignment store and she was accused of shopping at the thrift store and re-selling "their" items--when what actually happened was--a customer of the thrift store bought something;  didn't like it after they got it home--and consigned it!  Yet they BANNED the consignment store owner--who was NOT buying for re-sale!  Sheesh.  

I wanna be arrested for TRYING to BUY  and PAY for something at a store--is there something WRONG with this picture?  

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Wed Mar 11 00:53:38 2015

I would have thought that such "clearance" sales are designed to bring customers into the store with the hope that they will buy other stuff, not to supply cheap product to resellers ...

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 00:56:26 2015

It might help if some of these people put their ego on a leash and quit making Youtube videos and yabbering about their great scores.  

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: tiastreasures This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Mar 11 01:02:10 2015

What I would like to know is how the sellers know the buyer is reselling?  I have resold items online that I found at thrift stores.  I certainly didn't tell anyone at the store what I was planning to do with my purchases.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: nordicgal This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 01:16:05 2015

I think it's ludicrous that a large retailer would want to ban any buyer that purchases at the price they are asking regardless of what happens to the product after the rightful owner purchases it.  Who are they to determine if you are a reseller or not?

On a slightly off topic note...

I am a registered business owner and have been so for about seven years.  I have no storefront and so far have only sold on eBay and ecrater.  I purchase new products from wholesalers and have sometimes come across wholesalers who will not sell to business owners like myself unless they have a storefront or at the very least their own website. They have terms of agreement that you are NOT an eBay or Amazon seller. This is very frustrating to me as I have enough sense not to devalue the product and would represent it in the very best way because I want to make the most money possible on it.  I can understand some that may not want the competition when they have their own retail website but sometimes you get this from wholesale only companies.

What are your thoughts on this?

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: PeoplesChoice This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 01:56:48 2015

Kohls is by no means the first to do this. KMart banned me and several fellow sellers well over a year ago. You would think that a company that is going bankrupt would take money from anyone who wants to give it to them but not Kmart/Sears, they flat out hate resellers. If they added up all the money they turned away just from the sellers I know it would be over a million a year. Stupid move by a stupid company. I still buy in store if I can find a store, they've closed so many down that I don't see many around any more.

I haven't been banned by Kohls, yet. I won't cry if I am but it will pinch for a few days while I find a new store to spend my money at. Really they are only hurting themselves.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 02:44:44 2015

We've had a retail store selling vintage stuff for almost thirty years. We love resellers, and they know it. If we can get what we are asking for an item, and they can sell it for more, then more power to them!  Often times we give them a discount, because they are in the business.

We have learned that when we go to garage or estate sales, to be quiet about who we are. Some people hate the thought of you making a profit off their stuff. That is simply selfish greed.

When we buy at a garage sale, store, or from a wholesaler, they are getting their money immediately. We have to display, list, and sometimes fix, that item and wait for the sale at the higher price. It is a risk, that we either make money off of, or lose money. That risk is where our profit comes from.

I don't understand those managers of retail chain stores that want to control their product after the sale is made. What business is it of theirs what you do with the items you just bought?  You own them now, they don't.

I hope Kohls banning Seller backfires on them, and they lose business!

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Mar 11 03:08:24 2015

I think BargainzBabylon brings up a good point. I suspect a lot of these resellers are being less than discreet, and the stores probably don't like the idea that people are trying to draw buyers to an online venue like Amazon rather than to their venue. It's kind of dumb to run around bragging or showing off your arbitrage prowess, since all that does is encourage more people to do it. That means more competition and more potential backlash from stores. A lot of the bandwagon-hoppers tend to make hash of what they're attempting (until the next make-money-easily idea comes their way) and can give a bad rep to the rest. I can understand stores not wanting to be overrun with people who would draw their customers away. A lot of the real bargain sales are loss leaders, designed to get people in the store where they can be persuaded to buy other stuff. I'm not saying they're right to ban resellers,  but I can understand why they might be inclined to do so.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: brokentoys19 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 04:18:53 2015

Outrageous! How dare they! Ebay sellers should make a big as stink as possible on every venue at their disposal. Time to shine a glowing beacon of exposure on this injustice! Make posters, signs and petitions, videos and infographics. Tweet, share, like, +1, pin and vine it!

Kohl's is local nearly everywhere, so if ebay sellers want to protest in person they are sure to get some press. Take the whole family, make a day of it. Ebay sellers Occupy Kohl's.

Perminate Link for Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers   Kohls Bans eBay and Amazon Sellers

by: cosqueen This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 11 06:18:23 2015

Here's a thought:  The merchandise we sell has to come from somewhere -- we are ALL resellers from the very bottom of the chain all the way to the top.  Also, Nordicgal, I have acquired distributorships with name brand companies and have been asked numerous times to stop selling on Ebay and Amazon.  I can only figure these companies are losing money to third-party retailers, who were approved to resell, on these venues.  People shop where THEY want to shop.  They feel secure buying on big sites knowing they are protected in the event something goes wrong with the purchase.  Why give an authorized third party retailer a distributorship and then ask them not to sell it?????? Makes no sense to me either.

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