TECHNOLOGY

Online giant discounts third-party sellers’ merchandise as the holidays approach

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon introduced a new third-party discounting plan.

In a move to lure customers away from its competitors, the online giant is cutting prices of products sold by third-party sellers on its website. The move is designed to aggressively compete against low-priced rivals like Walmart, according to Reuters.

Amazon has already began slashing prices of certain merchandise — discounts that are as high as 9% in some cases. However, these discounts seem to apply to third-party sellers who ship their products through Amazon’s distribution centers, according to Fortune.

Amon the merchandise impacted by the discount are board games and technological gadgets. The e-retailer will sell the items at lower prices, and absorb the the discount amount — which still entitles sellers to receive full price from Amazon, Reuters reported.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in the report, “When Amazon provides a discount, customers get the products they want at a price they’ll love, and small businesses receive increased sales at their listed asking price.”

While some third party companies on the Amazon Services Sellers Forums are bullish on the program — especially if they are entitled to their full fee, not all sellers are happy with the decision. Some merchants have even complained that the decision “devalues” their products.

One seller hopes the move doesn’t devalue the merchandise, an issue that could find goods “relegated to bargain bins by playing the low price game. Discounting is a short term fix. Doesn’t fit into our long term plan,” the seller said on the forum.

“This new discounting decision is one of the strongest reminders that selling on Amazon is a privilege, like driving, and not guaranteed,” said Bardia Dejban, CTO of SMB e-commerce platform Volusion.

“This is bad news for third party sellers with their own e-commerce website because they are now competing on price against Amazon and other marketplaces,” Dejuan said. “The good news is,Amazon is covering the cost difference for third party sellers this time. But it makes me wonder if they’ll use the data collected to change their terms of service and pricing policies next year or sooner.”

Businesses can opt out of the program at any time, Amazon’s spokeswoman told Reuters.

 

 

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TECHNOLOGY

Retail vet joins REI

BY Marianne Wilson

REI has named the former CIO and executive VP of Coach as its chief information officer.

The outdoor fitness apparel and gear retailer appointed Christine Putur as CIO and executive VP, Geekwire.com reported. Putur spent four years at Coach, from February 2013 to May 2017. Prior to that, she served as the CIO and senior VP of Staples Corp. Before Staples, she was with Compaq Computer Corporation.

Putur succeeds Julie Averill at REI. Averill left REI in May to join Lululemon as CTO.

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TECHNOLOGY

Gifting retailer gets digital refresh

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

1-800 Flowers wants all of its brands to become online destinations — especially during the upcoming holiday season.

To keep traffic — and sales — flowing on its Harry & David brand specifically, the gifting retailer updated the functionality of the brand’s online store. In addition to redesigning the brand’s website, enhanced navigation will help customers shop the brand’s entire product assortment by popular categories.

The company has also added new services, including new mobile payment methods that enable customers to use Apple Pay and PayPal at mobile check-out. A corporate gifting portal streamlines how businesses place gifting orders.

In addition, the company also expanded the site’s multiple gift recipient field, a move that allows shoppers to add and send up to 100 different gifts in their cart to separate recipients.

The company enhanced its gift list service to allow customers to view their online and print catalog order history together in one place, add gift recipients and shop for new items to include on their list. Meanwhile, more accurate online tracking will enable customers to receive timely information on order shipping status. This encompasses orders from brand “clubs,” and future shipment items.

These digital efforts are only one piece of Harry & David’s holiday preparations. The gourmet gifting retailer also plans to open approximately 20 pop-up stores nationwide this holiday season.

The stores, which will operate in key market areas across the United States, will augment Harry & David’s 46 permanent retail locations. The temporary locations have already started to open, and will stay in business until just after the holiday season ends.

 

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