There's a push to require online marketplaces to publish the names and addresses of online sellers on listings and profile pages. Last month, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) launched the "Buy Safe America Coalition
," which is ramping up pressure through its support of the INFORM Consumers Act.
"The coalition says the legislation will address the problem of counterfeit and stolen merchandise being sold online by third party sellers whose identities are kept hidden from consumers," according to an article in Forbes
A RILA executive told Forbes that Amazon shoppers often don't realize they're buying from a third-party seller rather than Amazon, "and Amazon's policies regarding information about third party sellers make it difficult for brands to take action against sellers of counterfeit or stolen goods."
But Amazon saw the writing on the wall, and today, September 1st, it's rolling out a new policy, announced last month, in which it is publishing sellers' names and addresses on its site.
A week ago, Amazon clarified that a seller's business address can be a PO Box: "For companies, it’s the address your business is registered under; for individual entities, it's your operating address (street address or P.O. Box)."
, it published another update with additional information, where it explained why it was launching the new policy: "We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions." (A moderator also said, "The changes will be rolled out across all U.S. Seller Profile pages over the week.")
The INFORM Consumers Act legislation would apply not only to Amazon, but to eBay, Etsy, and others, where many sellers are individuals selling from their homes.
Sellers make compelling arguments about why they don't want their home addresses published on public-facing marketplace pages (while fully acknowledging the marketplace provides their address to customers after a purchase).
After all, does anyone expect brick-and-mortar retailers to publish their owners' names and home addresses online for all to see?
But many others disagree - with some hoping greater transparency would expose foreign sellers posing as domestic sellers, though it may be naive to think it's that easy.
Now may be the time for home-based sellers to explore services that provide an alternative mailing address (search for "get a real street address"). It's not cheap - but it may be the cost of doing business (check with your accountant to see if you can deduct it as a business expense).
Do you think large brands and retailers are solely concerned about counterfeits and stolen goods, or are they also concerned about the increase in online shopping due to the coronavirus pandemic?