Coalition of Small Businesses Aims to Weaken Amazon’s Grip

Trade groups representing small merchants in hardware, office supplies, books and groceries are organizing in 12 cities to form Small Business Rising, a coalition for stronger antitrust laws and enforcement of existing ones. They hope new measures will force Amazon to spin off its own business lines that compete with them. The House Antitrust Subcommittee is already considering such legislation but hasn’t yet introduced a bill. Amazon called the efforts “misguided interventions in the free market.” Continue reading Coalition of Small Businesses Aims to Weaken Amazon’s Grip

Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

Facebook’s Red Team is tasked with spotting vulnerabilities on the platform before hackers do. Many tech companies have similar red teams but, at Facebook, Red Team manage Nat Hirsch and his colleague Vlad Ionescu saw an opportunity to do more after COVID-19 hit. Established last spring and headed by Ionescu, Facebook’s Red Team X both works independently with its internal, original Red Team and looks into weaknesses of third-party products that represent a potential threat to its own platform. Continue reading Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

When Angela Bolger’s laptop caught fire due to a replacement battery she bought on Amazon, she suffered third-degree burns and filed a lawsuit against the popular e-commerce site. Amazon responded by providing a refund for the battery. Until recently, Amazon has successfully fought off such liability suits. The stakes are high since almost 60 percent of all physical goods on its site now come from third-party sellers. The courts have traditionally sided with Amazon, but recent cases from a few states are changing that trend. Continue reading Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

Court Finds Amazon Liable for Defective Third-Party Products

The California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that Amazon can be held liable for the damages created by a defective replacement laptop battery purchased from a third-party seller on its marketplace. The buyer, Angela Bolger, reportedly got third degree burns when the battery, from Amazon third-party seller Lenoge Technology, caught fire. Amazon has defended itself against such liability lawsuits so the appeals court decision is a major blow to its e-commerce business. The company currently faces several other liability suits.

Continue reading Court Finds Amazon Liable for Defective Third-Party Products

Facing Increased Scrutiny, Big Tech Seeks Political Support

While federal regulators are scrutinizing Amazon, Facebook and Google, the Big Tech companies are fighting to protect themselves by helping to fund a wide range of political groups that act as allies. One such group is the Connected Commerce Council (3C), a Washington-based nonprofit that describes itself as an advocate of small businesses — but also counts Amazon, Facebook and Google as “partners.” Meanwhile, the European Commission is reportedly going to levy formal antitrust charges against Amazon in the next two weeks. Continue reading Facing Increased Scrutiny, Big Tech Seeks Political Support

Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

With the coronavirus pandemic spurring online buying, Amazon saw its revenue for the quarter ending March rise 26 percent from a year earlier to $75.5 billion — the highest ever reached for what is ordinarily Amazon’s slowest quarter. According to FactSet, profit fell 29 percent from a year earlier to $2.5 billion, disappointing analysts’ average estimate of $3.26 billion. Amazon hired 175,000 new warehouse and delivery employees, and chief executive Jeff Bezos told investors this is “the hardest time” the company has faced. Continue reading Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

After prioritizing essential products, such as cleaning and healthcare items, Amazon is again allowing third-party sellers to ship non-essential products. Its refusal to accept shipments of such products frustrated its third-party sellers that form 58 percent of Amazon’s overall sales. Amazon, which will limit quantities of non-essential products, is hiring 75,000 more employees to keep up with demand. The company also asked new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery/pickup customers to join a waitlist. Continue reading Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

The Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation of Amazon by trying to determine if small businesses do in fact have alternative marketplaces. Several attorneys and “at least one economist” have been conducting 90-minute interviews with some of Amazon’s third-party vendors, to see if they do earn revenue from eBay, Walmart or other shopping sites. According to former FTC staffer Michael Kades, the length of the interviews and number of staff dedicated to the task indicates the agency is doing a “serious job.” Continue reading FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Amazon’s Accelerator program for independent merchants, launched in spring 2018, provides marketing support, product reviews and visibility in exchange for the right to purchase the brand with 60 days notice, for a fixed price, “often $10,000.” It’s part of the tech behemoth’s strategy to build its portfolio of exclusive brands. According to third-party sellers, this is also the first selling program that gives Amazon direct control over independent brands. One source reported that Amazon has not yet purchased any brands. Continue reading Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Apple Sells Products via Amazon, Tightens Resale Market

Amazon Marketplace, a third-party seller network worth about $250 billion, has long been the go-to platform for online entrepreneurs who refurbish and sell old Apple computers. But the Mac resale sector has gone up in smoke since Apple and Amazon struck an agreement to limit sales of Apple products only to “the largest companies” and authorized providers. Amazon Marketplace is “the preeminent place” to sell products, offering logistics and shipping unlike competitors eBay and Walmart, as well as Overstock and Etsy. Continue reading Apple Sells Products via Amazon, Tightens Resale Market

Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

In the “risk factors” section of its annual report, e-commerce leader Amazon listed counterfeit products, stating that the company may be “unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods, selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner … or otherwise violating our policies.” This is a first for the tech giant, which had never discussed the ongoing problem. In principle, it has a “zero tolerance” policy but the site is full of merchants selling knockoffs. Continue reading Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters