The Web Retailer News Digest for October 8th, 2021

Amazon launched its first batch of “Black Friday-worthy” deals this week. That’s right, instead of falling at the end of November, Black Friday now starts at the beginning of October for Amazon.

The deals include time-limited offers on products from well known brands including Apple, Hasbro and KitchenAid, throughout October and November. No category has been left out, with toys, fashion, homewares, electronics, beauty and more well represented.

Why is Amazon doing this? Sure, they want to sell more stuff, as always. But this time around there is another reason which is even more pressing.

When is a day two months long?

Black Friday used to be one day, and rightly so. After all, it’s in the name.

Then it was a weekend, stretching from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and all falling under the umbrella of “Black Friday weekend”.

Then it was a whole week of “Black Friday deals”.

In 2021, Amazon has abandoned the connection between Black Friday and Thanksgiving altogether and made it two whole months.They love their customers so much!

But there’s something else going on this year. It’s shaping up a perfect storm, with the highest demand for online shopping that we have ever seen, plus a multitude of supply shortages including:

  • Labor shortages at fulfillment centers and shipping carriers
  • Shortages, delays and price increase in overseas shipping
  • Fuel and energy shortages and global competition for supplies

Retailers are telling their customers not to wait until the “real” Black Friday to start their holiday shopping, because they might already be sold out by then.

Some Christmas and Halloween products are already sold out, and there may not be time left for new shipments to make it over from China, through the ports, and all the way into stores – whether they are online or brick-and-mortar.

It’s shaping up to be a holiday season to remember, but maybe not for the reasons we would all like.

Read more at About Amazon.

Chinese sellers test Amazon’s forced arbitration clause

Sellers may be aware that if they get into a dispute with Amazon, the terms of service force them to use arbitration instead of going to court. Forced arbitration was dropped for consumers in June this year, but the clause remains for sellers.

Arbitration should be a better option than court for most disputes, offering a cheaper and more streamlined way to resolve problems. That’s the theory anyway. In reality, it can be an expensive and secretive process, as a leaked story showed in March.

Now Amazon’s forced arbitration clause is finally being challenged. The unlikely heroes standing up to the tech giant are a group of seven Chinese sellers, suspended between December 2020 and March 2021 and with a total of $550,000 in funds still withheld by Amazon.

The reason for the suspensions? You guessed it, they offered cash for product reviews. That is not in dispute. What is being challenged is the withholding of funds and the right of Amazon to force sellers into arbitration.

If this class action lawsuit is successful, sellers in the US will have to swallow their usual disdain for Chinese competitors, and thank them for restoring their full rights to justice.

Read more at Marketplace Pulse.

Etsy introduces “domestic and global pricing”

Etsy sellers with customers around the world can now set two prices for the same product: a domestic price and a global price. The idea is that this can help cover additional international shipping and tax costs.

It’s an interesting move to set different prices for domestic and international buyers. But it feels rather basic compared to the usual approaches of building the additional costs into the shipping price (which can already be done on Etsy), or using a calculation tool that provides accurate shipping and duty costs for buyers anywhere in the world like eBay’s GSP.

Etsy’s “domestic and global pricing” only allows two prices to be set: one domestic and one global. That clearly doesn’t reflect the reality of shipping products worldwide.

Curiously, Etsy’s FAQ on the new feature says it is only available to sellers in “export-focused countries”. There’s no word on what that means, other than apparently excluding the US.

Read more at Etsy.

Also in the news

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

October 13: What You Should Know for Amazon Peak Season 2021. eComEngine.

October 13: Here for the Holidays: Your Checklist for Sales Success. Seller Labs.

Various dates: Amazon Small Business Academy Pathways series. Amazon.

For UK sellers

October 12: Improving your Amazon product listings. Amazon.

October 13: Sell successfully on ChannelAdvisor.

October 13: Make the most of Pan-EU FBA. Amazon.

October 14: Implementing business discounts in Amazon Seller Central. Amazon.


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