Amazon said it will start displaying contact information for its 461,000 active U.S. sellers starting Sept. 1.
This information will appear on their profile pages, which is a big development because only sellers in Europe, Japan and Mexico were previously required to post those details. And as a November 2019 Wall Street Journal investigation pointed out, not being able to contact third-party sellers has made it difficult for customers and brands to hold anyone accountable when those sellers have listed banned, unsafe and/or mislabeled products.
In an announcement in an Amazon seller forum, the ecommerce platform said features like seller profile pages and store pages help its customers learn more about sellers and their products.
“We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions,” the statement said.
When asked for comment, an Amazon spokesperson parroted the company’s statement and did not say anything further.
The ecommerce platform also encouraged sellers to add additional information “that you think would be helpful to customers,” but discouraged them from including email addresses “in order to prevent spam and abuse.” Instead, Amazon said they should use its own messaging system for electronic communication with customers.
The move comes as Amazon appears to be cracking down on counterfeit items. Last month, it created a Counterfeit Crimes Unit, which it said will help more effectively pursue civil litigation against sellers, work with brands and aid law enforcement.
But the WSJ investigation found that part of the reason Amazon “increasingly resembles an unruly online flea market” is because of heavy recruitment of sellers in China. (Ecommerce intelligence firm Marketplace Pulse found 41% of Amazon sellers are now based there.)
As Adweek previously reported, the influx of new sellers overall—1.2 million joined in 2019 and another 585,000 have signed up so far year to date in 2020—has contributed to Amazon’s marketplace woes.
In November, Amazon told Adweek it has no plans to curb the number of sellers who join the platform because it wants to offer the best prices, selection and convenience. (Amazon also collects monthly fees for each professional seller account, along with fees for its Fulfillment By Amazon service.)
As the marketplace expands, it remains to be seen whether this requirement to divulge contact information will ultimately deter bad actors and/or help customers and brands hold them accountable.