As we look at Amazon’s evolution over the past few years, it’s clear to see that things are changing for marketplace sellers. Here are 10 of the most important things we think the future holds for Amazon sellers.
Amazon is growing rapidly and, with that, come a host of opportunities and complications for marketplace sellers. We’ve drawn up a list of 10 changes we think all Amazon sellers should prepare for as they plan to grow alongside Amazon.
Mandatory OTD and Tracking for EU Orders
So far, Amazon has been more lenient with European sellers, but mandatory performance targets are bound to become universal in the next few years, or even months. As tracking becomes mandatory on EU accounts, their on-time delivery (OTD) rates and other performance indicators will most likely come under scrutiny. The expectation is that international sellers will be required to meet the same rigorous standards as US sellers.
Expanding List of Gated products
The forums are abuzz with a fresh wave of restrictions applicable to:
- a) new brands;
- b) new items by brands that are not altogether gated;
- c) new subcategories, such as Topicals;
- d) random items that don’t belong to a specific product category, as is the case for popular music products and textbooks. To make matters worse, there are no specific features that help classify these items as ‘popular’ or ‘textbooks’. We believe the trend is likely to continue as more and more products are included in this list.
More Accounts Suspended on Suspicion of Hacking
The list of activities Amazon considers suspicious is growing, so we can expect more suspensions in the future. At this point, even changing your bank account details and immediately asking for a disbursement is enough to trigger a suspension. To avoid any unpleasant situations, we recommend that you let Amazon know before you change any of the details saved in the “Account Info” section in Seller Central.
Increase in Safety Incident Suspensions
Amazon’s safety policy grows stronger each year. The Product Safety team suspends any listings suspected of safety infringement, even if the claims are unfounded. Buyers are also notified about product recalls, even if their particular product isn’t affected (eg. laptop batteries shipped with specific batches). We can only expect more rigorous standards in the future.
For more on safety infringements, please refer to our post from earlier this year.
Rise in Intellectual Property Right Infringements
Unauthorized sellers are coming up with more and more cunning ways to deceive Amazon into allowing them to sell their products. In return, Amazon must tighten the rules for everyone, especially as brand owners put more effort into monitoring their online presence. So you’re bound to see more intellectual property right infringements in the future; therefore, more notifications and suspensions.
Some brands, such as Nike, take matters into their own hands and launch their own Amazon profiles. Others rely on companies like 3PM* to monitor their online presence for them. Either way, sellers can have their listings taken down unexpectedly. For those caught in the crossfire, we offer Listing Rescue and Account Rescue services.
*Please note that this is simply an example of a company that protects brands, not an endorsement or a recommendation. We urge our readers to carry out their own research into ways to protect their products.
More Resellers To Close Up Shop
As popular brands start to sell their own products on Amazon and/or to monitor product listings, they’re bound to push for stricter checks and requirements for resellers. Retail arbitrage is especially vulnerable since sellers who only have receipts for their products are unable to provide the invoices that Amazon demands. Faced with diminishing margins, many marketplace sellers will inevitably close up shop.
Shorter Product Lifecycles
Seller and buyer dynamics are changing. Increased competition makes it harder for sellers to get the best price for their products, and a growing buyer base means rising customer expectations. Many inventors and artisans sell their own creations on Amazon (‘own brand’); JungleScout report that 13% of the thousands of sellers they surveyed rely on this business model. As lookalikes and improved versions of these products are released constantly, there’s more pressure to sell fast. Even with stricter listing restrictions, popular products simply can’t stay popular as long.
More Private Label Sellers
The same infographic shows that a whopping 65% of sellers trade private label products. This means that the goods are produced exclusively for them, and they alone can sell them. With stricter requirements on Amazon for those who resell, the product label phenomenon is bound to gain momentum. In fact, we’ll probably witness an even greater rise in the number of sellers who deal solely in private label products.
Growing Numbers of e-Commerce Websites
The rise in suspensions has taught sellers not to put all their eggs in one basket. Many of those who have never had their own web shops are focusing their efforts on launching new online stores. Others are working hard to improve existing ones. We expect to see a rise in the number of e-shops being set up, as sellers try to avoid losing business unexpectedly due to unforeseen suspensions.
Enhanced Security Measures
Protecting users from unauthorized use of their accounts is clearly a priority for Amazon, who recently implemented Two-Step Verification. We expect this trend to continue, especially since it seems Amazon is looking for new ways to make Two-Step Verification accessible to more users. Note that despite the fact that this security measure came into effect last month, sellers who haven’t signed up still have access to their accounts.
Of course, every business is different, and a seller’s future will depend on many other factors. But the consensus among sellers seems to be that the sooner you start selling on Amazon the better, even if your initial investment is modest. Perseverance, product diversity, and the ability to expand to new markets seem to be defining factors for an Amazon seller’s success.
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