The Web Retailer News Digest for July 23rd, 2021

Amazon has launched a new scheme called the “Brand Referral Bonus program”. Sellers who send traffic to Amazon from elsewhere can earn an average of 10% of product sales, as a credit against referral fees. This has the potential to cut a typical referral fee of 15% down to only 5%.

Sellers will earn the bonus for additional purchases from their brand up to 14 days after the customer clicked through to Amazon. The program is only open to sellers with their own registered brand, not resellers.

So what’s the catch?

Amazon will pay you to send them traffic

On the whole, merchants sell on Amazon because of the enormous size of the marketplace. They can reach customers and make sales on a scale that is unmatched anywhere else.

But that doesn’t mean they adore Amazon and have no interest at all in selling their products through other channels. Many sellers would love to reduce their dependence on Amazon and diversify by selling through other marketplaces, social media and their own webstore.

They do that through advertising, social posting, email marketing and everything else they can think of. Usually, they will point all of those links to their own webstore, where the cost of sale is lowest – perhaps only a payment processing fee of around 3%.

Amazon would rather they didn’t do that. It would like to keep all those customers for itself.

When a shopper buys from Amazon they are Amazon’s customer, not yours. You don’t get to send them promotions or even find out who they are, if you sell via FBA. You will be in breach of Amazon’s rules on misuse of customer data if you use shipping details for marketing purposes, or leverage third-party tools to uncover email addresses. It’s not to be taken lightly.

So the catch with the Brand Referral Bonus program is the same catch with selling on Amazon as a whole. You don’t get the customer, Amazon does. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it clearly is to Amazon. This isn’t a company that sacrifices two-thirds of its fees for nothing.

Read more at Amazon Seller Forums.

Other big news this week

Amazon aggregator is giving away Teslas

Another initiative that sounds too good to be true comes from Amazon FBA acquisition company Acquco. This company is looking to buy up Amazon sellers, following the strategy of several other well-funded businesses such as Thrasio.

Instead of offering 10% of sales, Acquco’s program promises to give away $10 million worth of Tesla Model Ys, to people who refer a seller who they go on to acquire. Yes, you can get a car worth $50,000+ just by telling Acquqo about an Amazon seller who is interested in selling their business. There is also an option for cash.

It’s a desperate move. Acquco’s CEO Raunak Nirmal is quoted on CNBC saying, “As a seller, when you get a message from someone about acquiring your business, you think of it as spam and go about your day.” So what’s the solution? Giving away a car? Would offering a free Tesla really make that message sound less suspicious?

But there isn’t really a catch with this one. Acquco, which has over $165 million in funding, is competing with dozens of other acquisition companies to buy up the best Amazon sellers. Putting the Tesla offer in perspective, $50,000 is only a 5% premium when buying a million-dollar business. It’s not a big price to pay to get ahead of so many high-profile rivals.

The recent Prosper Show was dominated by acquirers including Thrasio, Heyday and Perch, who were all official exhibitors at the conference – unlike Acquqo.

Read more at CNBC.

eBay’s FBA is expanding… and it’s cheaper than Amazon

eBay spoke about plans for rolling out its own fulfillment service at its developer conference Connect earlier this month.

eBay Fulfillment (EF? FBE?) was piloted in Germany first then brought to the UK and other markets. The program is particularly appealing to sellers from overseas who want to outsource storage and fulfillment to save costs or improve shipping speed. It currently offers two-day delivery in Germany and the UK.

Competitive pricing is one of the selling points, with eBay claiming that it is cheaper than Amazon’s FBA MCF (multichannel fulfillment) service, although presenter Erik Selberg, VP of Shipping & Member Communications, couldn’t bring himself to say that part aloud.

eBay plans to roll out the service in Australia and Italy in Q3 2021 and in the US in 2022.

Watch the video on YouTube.

Fake online reviews could become illegal in the UK

Following the news three weeks ago that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating Amazon and Google over fake reviews, the UK government has proposed new laws to crack down on unscrupulous trading practices.

If passed, it will become illegal to pay for fake reviews to be posted online. Companies that break the rules could be fined up to 5% of their annual turnover.

The proposed legislation will also tackle companies who push customers into taking out unwanted subscriptions, and the use of undisclosed product promotion.

Also in the news

  • Amazon UK opens submissions for End of Summer Sale deals. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums UK.
  • Big Amazon seller says they exploit Amazon customer data to run targeted advertising on social media. Read more at Glossy.
  • Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) feature expands to sellers on Amazon UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums UK.
  • eBay car sales scammer sentenced to 14 years in prison. Read more at US DOJ.

Webinars in the week ahead

For everyone

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program rolls on with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, reporting, optimization and tips (Amazon).

For US sellers

Various dates: Amazon small business Pathways series (Amazon).

July 27: Build Your Brand Presence: Advertising Beyond Amazon (Seller Labs).

For UK sellers

July 27: What do the new EU VAT reforms mean for marketplaces? (Tamebay – registration closed).

July 27: Options for selling on Amazon globally (Amazon).

July 28: Self-fulfillment delivery performance metrics (Amazon).

And finally…

EcommerceBytes sues eBay over stalking and harassment

Last June, six ex-employees faced criminal charges, alleging that they harassed Ina and David Steiner, the publishers of EcommerceBytes. The actions included sending disturbing items to the Steiner’s home including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse.

These were senior employees from eBay’s teams charged with looking after safety and security, driven to take action because EcommerceBytes published articles that painted eBay in a bad light.

Even ex-CEO Devin Wenig was implicated, texting “Take her down” to another senior executive in response to a post pointing out that Wenig earned 152 times as much as an average eBay employee.

Now most of the individuals charged have pleaded guilty, and the Steiners have filed their own lawsuit against eBay, Wenig and several other former eBay executives.

“This has been an unbelievably difficult ordeal for my wife and I,” David Steiner said in a statement posted on EcommerceBytes. “Never did we imagine doing our jobs as journalists would lead to this. We want to protect the rights of reporters and their freedom of the press. We have endured enormous cruelty and abuse and feared for our lives. If this behavior can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”

The Steiners continue to run EcommerceBytes, posting regularly about eBay and other topics of interest for online sellers.

Read more at CBS News.


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