Two years ago I started my own unique Amazon store. It wasn’t any kind of huge operation, just a way for me to get rid of old electronics, books, clothes, and whatever else I had too much of to make a few bucks. The whole setup was fairly easy – thanks mostly to PayPal, the store did pretty well for one that wasn’t really focused on any kind of niche.
Fast forward about six months. I began receiving offers from other individuals to buy out my store. Many of these were people who ran successful online retail shops and were simply looking to expand their inventory – and mine was selling really well.
A few others were new to the whole idea of selling online and didn’t want to have to work at establishing an online store, but were more interested in buying one that already had a good reputation in the online shopping community.
Whatever the reason, people were interested in my Amazon store, and I was seriously considering their offers. The only thing holding me back were the Terms of Service provided by Amazon when I first started my store.
This made me wonder – should we as sellers have the right to sell our own brand to whomever we choose? Or does Amazon deserve the right to tell us what we can and cannot do simply because their site is the medium we’ve chosen to use?
The unfair trade-off… for everyone
Many people choose to sell on Amazon because it is a great way to get products out to customers, as it allows for great advertising, multiple shipping options, competitive pricing and much more. The seller is able to use these resources – and a large company’s name – to promote their online business and make more money in the process. What happens when the time comes to consider moving on, though?
As a seller, I was interested in taking an audit of my business and inventory to see exactly how much all of my hard work was worth. Once I knew that I could make a pretty penny by selling my Amazon store, I became more involved in finding ways to do it.
After looking over the company policies, I realized that technically my hands were tied. Even though this was my brand made up of my own products, the company I used to push them was holding me back from doing as I pleased. Shouldn’t I have been given all the credit for the success of my store?
On the other hand, Amazon has also put a lot into helping sellers make more money and gain more exposure. Through the company’s online shopping interface, algorithms they’ve put in place, and creative marketing tactics, there is a large amount of credit that should be given to them for assisting in the success of the seller.
Does that mean that my Amazon store is really theirs and I’m just the shopkeeper? Because that’s really what it felt like.
Been there, done that
As sellers, we are basically suppliers to a larger corporation. We place the products online, and when they sell, Amazon takes their cut and we get our profit. Then when it comes time to pull away, it’s very hard for the supplier to call any shots. A fight like this between suppliers and a corporation is not new.
A few years ago, it was revealed that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was pressuring its suppliers into cutting down their own profits and paying higher storage fees that would enable the shopping giant to keep prices low and demand high. Because of the contract the suppliers made with Wal-Mart, they had no choice but to abide by the fluctuating rules.
In June 2015, Wal-Mart sent letters to 10,000 suppliers to tell them the fees would be increasing immediately. “Any established supplier doing business with Wal-Mart is already offering by all means the lowest price possible,” said Carol Spieckerman, a consultant who works with several Wal-Mart vendors. “So these fees certainly sting.”
The outcome? Wal-Mart got what it wanted and suppliers were forced to either cut their prices and pay more for storage or buy put their contracts with the megastore brand. Could this Amazon dilemma end the same way? Something tells me it wouldn’t be quite so easy.
What Amazon store sellers are doing instead
You know what they say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” That holds true for many sellers on Amazon who want to sell their stores. It takes a lot of time and energy to get an Amazon store in good standing, and to create a loyal customer base in the process.
Most sellers work for years to get above a 95% accuracy rating and positive feedback from buyers. Once these goals are reached, many believe that they should be able to sell their business like they would if it were a brick-and-mortar store.
Unfortunately, due to Amazon’s restrictions on selling an online store outright to another individual, the process isn’t easy. However, a handful of people came up with a creative way to do it differently, and this idea has now grown into a full-fledged industry all its own.
One company that stood out is Top Rated Sellers Accounts. They specialize in creating safe transactions between buyer and sellers of Amazon Accounts. We reached to its CEO Daniel Butler for comment about some of the obstacles Amazon has created for its own community of sellers. “Amazon has not always made it easy,” he said “but we know Amazon is focused safety of both buyers and sells. We look forward to the day they make this process smoother and give sellers more choice about their own stores”
Generally, this is done by transferring all of the information that Amazon can see to another entity, but only after a private transaction takes place between both parties. We’re not just talking small stay-at-home shops, either. Many of these can be in the $10,000-$20,000 range or higher.
I am a firm believer in retaining complete control over everything you create – a brand, a product, ect – until it is sold to another entity. I also believe that there should be certain rights given to those who give you the tools necessary to create these things and help you become successful.
There has to be a way in which Amazon store owners can do as they please with their business and products without being blocked by the company, but there is also a need for sellers to understand that Amazon payed a crucial role in their success and deserves something for their input.
For now, this is still a tug-of-war between the two groups, but eventually something must be done. Eventually, the one person we are ultimately hurting is the customer – and neither party would be where they are without them.