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Surreal trip through the $175 B Amazon Marketplace

PrimeAndPunishment.png
(courtesy of The Verge)

When you buy something on Amazon, the odds are, you aren’t buying it from Amazon at all. Plansky is one of 6 million sellers on Amazon Marketplace, the company’s third-party platform. They are largely hidden from customers, but behind any item for sale, there could be dozens of sellers, all competing for your click. This year, Marketplace sales were almost double those of Amazon retail itself, according to Marketplace Pulse, making the seller platform alone the largest e-commerce business in the world.

For sellers, Amazon is a quasi-state. They rely on its infrastructure — its warehouses, shipping network, financial systems, and portal to millions of customers — and pay taxes in the form of fees. They also live in terror of its rules, which often change and are harshly enforced. A cryptic email like the one Plansky received can send a seller’s business into bankruptcy, with few avenues for appeal.

Sellers are more worried about a case being opened on Amazon than in actual court, says Dave Bryant, an Amazon seller and blogger. Amazon’s judgment is swifter and less predictable, and now that the company controls nearly half of the online retail market in the US, its rulings can instantly determine the success or failure of your business, he says. “Amazon is the judge, the jury, and the executioner.”

That and more on the specific instance in the article that sounds Hellish and arbitrary at the Verge.

I purchase a lot off Amazon.  I did the vast majority of my Christmas shopping there.  I use Subscribe & Save, Prime Pantry, Prime Reload, Twitch Prime, and a lot of other Amazon programs.  I try to stay away from Kindle, but even have books there now, and excised Alexa in favor of Google Home (though it's really two devils in that case, rather than a devil and an angel).  But seeing these articles, it makes it hard to support them.  But so far, the convenience outweighs my conscience.  That, and knowing people who make a lot more money in that way than they ever were able to through Mail Order, eBay, and Brick and Mortar.



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