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Global pandemic and online marketplaces

Kika Angelic

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If you are an Amazon seller thinking about making quick and easy money on global pandemy which is now spreading across the world, read this article based on New York Times report. They interviewed multiple merchants who are now struggling to sell their merchandise which was acquired with the sole purpose of turning it into a high profit due to increased public demand and low supply.

On March 1, the day after the first coronavirus related death in the United States was announced, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin set out in a S.U.V. to pick up some hand sanitizer. Driving around Chattanooga, Tenn., they hit a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot. At each store, they cleaned out the shelves.

Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” his brother said. “The major metro areas were cleaned out.”

Matt Colvin stayed home near Chattanooga, preparing for pallets of even more wipes and sanitizer he had ordered, and starting to list them on Amazon. Mr. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each, multiples higher than what he had bought them for. To him, “it was crazy money.” To many others, it was profiteering from a pandemic.

The next day, Amazon pulled his items and thousands of other listings for sanitizer, wipes and face masks. The company suspended some of the sellers behind the listings and warned many others that if they kept running up prices, they’d lose their accounts. EBay soon followed with even stricter measures, prohibiting any U.S. sales of masks or sanitizer.

Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.

“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”

Mr. Colvin is one of probably thousands of sellers who have amassed stockpiles of hand sanitizer and crucial respirator masks that many hospitals are now rationing, according to interviews with eight Amazon sellers and posts in private Facebook and Telegram groups from dozens more. Amazon said it had recently removed hundreds of thousands of listings and suspended thousands of sellers’ accounts for price gouging related to the coronavirus.

Amazon, eBay, Walmart and other online-commerce platforms are trying to stop their sellers from making excessive profits from a public health crisis. While the companies aimed to discourage people from hoarding such products and jacking up their prices, many sellers had already cleared out their local stores and started selling the goods online.

Now both the physical and digital shelves are nearly empty.

Mikeala Kozlowski, a nurse in Dudley, Mass., has been searching for hand sanitizer since before she gave birth to her first child, Nora, on March 5. When she searched stores, which were sold out, she skipped getting gas to avoid handling the pump. And when she checked Amazon, she couldn’t find it for less than $50.

“You’re being selfish, hoarding resources for your own personal gain,” she said of the sellers.

Sites like Amazon and eBay have given rise to a growing industry of independent sellers who snatch up discounted or hard-to-find items in stores to post online and sell around the world.

These sellers call it retail arbitrage, a 21st-century career that has adults buying up everything from limited-run cereals to Fingerling Monkeys, a once hot toy. The bargain hunters look for anything they can sell at a sharp markup. In recent weeks, they found perhaps their biggest opportunity: a pandemic.

As they watched the list of Amazon’s most popular searches crowd with terms like “Purell,” “N95 mask” and “Clorox wipes,” sellers said, they did what they had learned to do: Suck up supply and sell it for what the market would bear.

Initially, the strategy worked. For several weeks, prices soared for some of the top results to searches for sanitizer, masks and wipes on Amazon, according to a New York Times analysis of historical prices from Jungle Scout, which tracks data for Amazon sellers. The data shows that both Amazon and third-party sellers like Mr. Colvin increased their prices, which then mostly dropped when Amazon took action against price gouging this month.

At the high prices, people still bought the products en masse, and Amazon took a cut of roughly 15 percent and eBay roughly 10 percent, depending on the price and the seller.

Then the companies, pressured by growing criticism from regulators and customers, cracked down. After the measures last week, Amazon went further on Wednesday, restricting sales of any coronavirus-related products from certain sellers.

“Price gouging is a clear violation of our policies, unethical, and in some areas, illegal,” Amazon said in a statement. “In addition to terminating these third party accounts, we welcome the opportunity to work directly with states attorneys general to prosecute bad actors.”

Mr. Colvin, 36, a former Air Force technical sergeant, said he started selling on Amazon in 2015, developing it into a six-figure career by selling Nike shoes and pet toys, and by following trends.

In early February, as headlines announced the coronavirus’s spread in China, Mr. Colvin spotted a chance to capitalize. A nearby liquidation firm was selling 2,000 “pandemic packs,” leftovers from a defunct company. Each came with 50 face masks, four small bottles of hand sanitizer and a thermometer. The price was $5 a pack. Mr. Colvin haggled it to $3.50 and bought them all.

Hand sanitizer that Mr. Colvin is keeping in a storage locker.

He quickly sold all 2,000 of the 50-packs of masks on eBay, pricing them from $40 to $50 each, and sometimes higher. He declined to disclose his profit on the record but said it was substantial.

The success stoked his appetite. When he saw the panicked public starting to pounce on sanitizer and wipes, he and his brother set out to stock up.

Elsewhere in the country, other Amazon sellers were doing the same.

Chris Anderson, an Amazon seller in central Pennsylvania, said he and a friend had driven around Ohio, buying about 10,000 masks from stores. He used coupons to buy packs of 10 for around $15 each and resold them for $40 to $50. After Amazon’s cut and other costs, he estimates, he made a $25,000 profit.

Mr. Anderson is now holding 500 packs of antibacterial wipes after Amazon blocked him from selling them for $19 each, up from $16 weeks earlier. He bought the packs for $3 each.

Eric, a truck driver from Ohio who spoke on the condition that his surname not be published because he feared Amazon would retaliate, said he had also collected about 10,000 masks at stores. He bought each 10-pack for about $20 and sold most for roughly $80 each, though some he priced at $125.

“Even at $125 a box, they were selling almost instantly,” he said. “It was mind-blowing as far as what you could charge.” He estimates he made $35,000 to $40,000 in profit.

Now he has 1,000 more masks on order, but he’s not sure what to do with them. He said Amazon had been vague about what constituted price gouging, scaring away sellers who don’t want to risk losing their ability to sell on its site.

To regulators and many others, the sellers are sitting on a stockpile of medical supplies during a pandemic. The attorney general’s offices in California, Washington and New York are all investigating price gouging related to the coronavirus. California’s price-gouging law bars sellers from increasing prices by more than 10 percent after officials declare an emergency. New York’s law prohibits sellers from charging an “unconscionably excessive price” during emergencies.

An official at the Washington attorney general’s office said the agency believed it could apply the state’s consumer-protection law to sue platforms or sellers, even if they aren’t in Washington, as long as they were trying to sell to Washington residents.

Noah Colvin, Mr. Colvin’s brother, moving boxes of hand sanitizer from his brother’s storage locker on Thursday.

Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging. While he charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each, he said people forget that his price includes his labor, Amazon’s fees and about $10 in shipping. (Alcohol-based sanitizer is pricey to ship because officials consider it a hazardous material.)

Current price-gouging laws “are not built for today’s day and age,” Mr. Colvin said. “They’re built for Billy Bob’s gas station doubling the amount he charges for gas during a hurricane.”

He added, “Just because it cost me $2 in the store doesn’t mean it’s not going to cost me $16 to get it to your door.”

But what about the morality of hoarding products that can prevent the spread of the virus, just to turn a profit?

Mr. Colvin said he was simply fixing “inefficiencies in the marketplace.” Some areas of the country need these products more than others, and he’s helping send the supply toward the demand.

“There’s a crushing overwhelming demand in certain cities right now,” he said. “The Dollar General in the middle of nowhere outside of Lexington, Ky., doesn’t have that.”

He thought about it more. “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.”

As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”

After The Times published this article on Saturday morning, Mr. Colvin said he was exploring ways to donate all the supplies.

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Don’t forget to upload a new certificate of Business Liability Insurance

Kika Angelic

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Over a year passed since Amazon started requiring its sellers to obtain business liability insurance, if their sales exceed $10000 in monthly sales turnover. Most sellers were able to obtain the required insurance, thanks to my helpful guide found on this link. All you need to do is subscribe to my OnlyFans page for $24.99 and this will enable you to obtain insurance accepted by Amazon, regardless of your business entity and country, where you are based.

However, please note that regardless where your business liability insurance policy was purchased, all insurance policies are expiring after a year and you will need to renew them and re-upload into the Amazon Seller Central, otherwise you will be treated in the same manner as those, who don’t have any insurance details on file.

Here is a copy of e-mail from Amazon requested update business liability insurance information following expiry:

Action required: New certificate of insurance coverage

Hello,

Thank you for maintaining commercial liability insurance for the products that you sell on Amazon.  According to our records, your policy has or is about to expire.  Please upload a new certificate of insurance within 30 days of receiving this email.

Why did I receive this message?

Your commercial liability insurance has expired or will expire in the next 30 days. Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement requires that once your gross proceeds exceed $10,000 in a month, or as otherwise requested by Amazon, you maintain current commercial insurance coverage and submit a proof within 30 days of receiving a verification request.           

How can I get a proof of liability insurance? 

You can contact your insurance provider to issue a Certificate of Insurance (COI) for the current year. You can also use this opportunity to shop around to ensure you have comprehensive coverage at a great rate. To secure easy and affordable liability insurance, Amazon has worked with an insurance broker to create Amazon Insurance Accelerator, a network of insurance providers who will evaluate and, if appropriate, offer liability insurance at competitive rates to qualifying selling partners. To learn more about Amazon Insurance Accelerator and contact the providers, go to Business Insurance: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/mario/v2/az/flow/BusinessInsurance/page/InsuranceEstablishment/global/render. 

What do I do next?

Upload your current COI as proof of liability insurance coverage on the Business Insurance page: 
https://sellercentral.amazon.com/mario/v2/az/flow/BusinessInsurance/page/InsuranceEstablishment/global/render?view=up

The COI is issued by your insurance company and details on what is covered, the amount of coverage, and any exclusions or deductibles. COI can be uploaded in .pdf, .doc, or .docx format. You can also access the upload page by doing the following:

1) On Seller Central, go to “Settings” and select “Account Info”. 
2) Under the “Business Information” widget, select “Business Insurance”.

What are the insurance requirements? 

For more information about the policy requirements, see Insurance requirements: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G200386300

We’re here to help. If you have additional questions, contact us: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/help/hub/support. 

To view your account performance, go to Account Health: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/performance/dashboard?reftag=ah_em_inv

The Amazon Services team

Additionally, here is a copy of the original business liability insurance requirement e-mail:

Action Required: Provide proof of liability insurance coverage

Hello,
We are writing to remind you to provide proof of liability insurance for the products you sell through Amazon.com Please provide this information within 30 days of receiving this email.

Why did I receive this message?
You are required to provide proof of liability insurance, and our records show you have not done so.  As of September 1, 2021, Section 9 of the Business Solutions Agreement (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G1791) requires you to obtain and maintain at least $1 million of commercial general, umbrella, or excess liability insurance, within 30 days after exceeding $10,000 in gross proceeds in sales in one month on Amazon.com or if otherwise requested by Amazon.

What do I do next?
Please upload your Certificate of Insurance (COI) as proof of liability insurance coverage within 30 days of receiving this email.  The COI is issued by your insurance company and details what is covered, the amount of coverage, and any exclusions or deductibles. 

Where do I submit my proof of liability insurance?
Upload your COI on the Business Insurance page (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/mario/v2/az/flow/BusinessInsurance/page/InsuranceEstablishment/global/render?view=up) in Seller Central account settings. The document can be uploaded in .pdf, .doc, or .docx format.

What are the insurance requirements? 
Your commercial liability insurance policy must meet all of the following criteria:

1. The policy limit must be at least $1 million per occurrence and in aggregate, and cover liabilities caused by or occurring in conjunction with your business operations, including products, products/completed operations and bodily injury; 
2. The insurance policy type can be either commercial general, umbrella, or excess liability and be occurrence based;
3. Your insurance provider must have global claim handling capability and a financial rating of S&P (https://www.spglobal.com/ratings/en/sector/insurance/insurance-sector) A- and/or AM Best (https://www.ambest.com/home/default.aspx)  A- or better (if S&P or AM best is not valid or used in the country where you are required to obtain insurance, a local equivalent is allowed);
4. Your insurance provider must give Amazon at least 30 days’ notice of cancellation, modification or nonrenewal;
5. The policy must name “Amazon.com Services LLC and its affiliates and assignees” as additional insureds;
6. The deductible for any policy(ies) must not be greater than $10,000 and any deductible amount must be listed on the certificate(s) of insurance;
7. The policy must cover all sales from products you have listed on the Amazon website;
8. Your insured name must match the “legal entity” name you provided to Amazon (view your legal entity name) (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/sw/AccountInfo/LegalEntity/step/LegalEntity);
9. The policy must be completed in its entirety and signed; and
10. The policy must be valid for at least 60 days from the date of submission.

How can I obtain liability insurance? 
You can choose any insurance provider that meets our requirements above. To help you easily and affordably secure liability insurance, Amazon has worked with an insurance broker to create Amazon Insurance Accelerator, a network of insurance providers who will evaluate and, if appropriate, offer liability insurance at competitive rates to qualifying selling partners. You can learn more about Amazon Insurance Accelerator and contact the providers here (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/mario/v2/az/flow/BusinessInsurance).

We’re here to help
For additional information, please go to our Help page (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/200386300). If you have additional questions, please contact us using this link (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/help/hub/support).

You can view your account performance at https://sellercentral.amazon.com/performance/dashboard?reftag=ah_em_inv or by selecting Account Health on the home screen of the Amazon Seller app on your iOS or Android device. The Account Health page shows how well your account is performing against the performance metrics and policies required to sell on Amazon.


The Amazon Services team

I hope you found this article helpful. Many Amazon sellers recently started trading stocks and crypto currencies, hoping to diversify their income, which is a very good idea with all the uncertainty which comes with the platform. For this reason, we launched a new Facebook group, Crypto Arbitrage Income (Bitcoin, Crypto, Altcoins, Blockchain, Trading) – feel free to join us and forget about the troubles of selling on Amazon for a moment!

Regarding Amazon Seller Performance, you can always participate in our Amazon Seller Performance – Friendly Advice – Worldwide group, where you will be very welcome.

If you are an Amazon Seller who needs help with any Amazon-related issues such as suspensions, listing blocks or is looking for professional assistance, please don’t hesitate to subscribe to my new OnlyFans page at: www.onlyfans.com/kikaangelic

To create perfect Amazon Product Images with a pure white background, feel free to watch my YouTube video about our image removal tool, which can be found within tools available on our Seller Union website:

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Watch out as Amazon will be automatically adjusting shipping time estimates!

Kika Angelic

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Recently, Amazon sent their third party sellers doing business on European marketplaces an e-mail titled “Improve your transit time”, which looks just like many of the generic promotional communications, which they are regularly sending.

However, the e-mails state that Amazon somehow detected the seller’s delivery times to be much shorter than their currently set shipping estimates and therefore, the estimates will be automatically adjusted throughout October 2022 to offer customers faster delivery promise. This will all happen without the affected seller’s knowledge or consent and affect domestic standard shipping times.

There is no option how you can proactively opt out and the only thing you can do is manually setting the shipping times back to their original timeframes, once you already discover them being changed.

Here is a screenshot of the e-mail regarding the matter from Amazon:

Here is a copy of the wording:

Improve your transit time

This is an important notification, which requires your attention.
 
Dear Seller,
 
We identified that more than 90% of your orders in the last three months have arrived before your promised delivery dates because your promised transit time is slower than your carriers delivery performance.
 
What does this mean for you?
Your performance indicates that setting a faster transit time could benefit you and the customer by showing a more accurate promised delivery date. In October, we will update your standard transit times ranges in shipping templates to values that are closer to your actual delivery times. As an example, if your transit time is set to 14-21 days and your preferred carrier is delivering within 10-12 days, we will update the transit time to 10-14 days.

No action is required from your side at the moment unless you want to further re-adjust the transit times. We will only adjust Standard Domestic Transit times in shipping templates. Your premium ship options, international and expedited templates will remain unchanged.
What are the advantages of adjusting to faster & more accurate transit time?
Faster transit times mean earlier delivery promise for your offers and customers are generally more likely to purchase products that have a faster delivery promise.

You can, at any time, update or change transit times in the shipping settings if you are unable to offer set transit times to the customers.

Many Amazon sellers recently started trading stocks and crypto currencies, hoping to diversify their income, which is a very good idea with all the uncertainty which comes with the platform. For this reason, we launched a new Facebook group, Crypto Arbitrage Income (Bitcoin, Crypto, Altcoins, Blockchain, Trading) – feel free to join us and forget about the troubles of selling on Amazon for a moment!

Regarding Amazon Seller Performance, you can always participate in our Amazon Seller Performance – Friendly Advice – Worldwide group, where you will be very welcome.

If you are an Amazon Seller who needs help with any Amazon-related issues such as suspensions, listing blocks or is looking for professional assistance, please don’t hesitate to subscribe to my new OnlyFans page at: www.onlyfans.com/kikaangelic

If you are interested in registering a Seller Account on Amazon or you are struggling with Seller Identity Verification, please feel free to watch my detailed video, where I am addressing all common mistakes and insider tips for success:

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Amazon postpones the deadline for removal of non-compliant listings under Controlled Drugs Policy

Kika Angelic

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Recently, Amazon announced that they will be starting to enforce their policy affecting over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and/or natural health products (NHP). However, they now e-mailed sellers with a correction, stating that the previously mentioned deadline of 30.September 2022 is being extended to 24.October 2022.

Amazon policy states that all drugs listed in scheduled substances, drugs paraphernalia, and any other drugs and NHPs listed in the “Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” cannot be sold on their platform.

Here you can view a copy of the e-mail regarding the matter:

Important information about over-the-counter drug and natural health product listings on Amazon.ca

Hello,

We are contacting you because you are selling or have sold over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and/or natural health products (NHP) on Amazon.ca. For more information on our policy on these products, go to “Drugs, Drug Paraphernalia & Dietary Supplements”: https://sellercentral.amazon.ca/help/hub/reference/external/200164490

You may have previously received emails informing non-compliant ASINs will be removed from our store starting September 30, 2022. As part of our ongoing efforts to provide the best possible seller and customer experience, we have extended this deadline. Non-compliant ASINs will now be removed from the http://amazon.ca/ store starting October 24, 2022. We will resume sending updated list of identified ASINs from the first week of October 2022.

Why is this happening?

Drugs and natural health products are regulated by Health Canada. Health Canada regulates who can distribute scheduled substances, narcotics, and paraphernalia.  Amazon policy states that all drugs listed in scheduled substances, drugs paraphernalia, and any other drugs and NHPs listed in the “Controlled Drugs and Substances Act”: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/ are not to be sold on Amazon.ca. 

For more information, go to “Drug Scheduling in Canada – General Overview”: https://www.napra.ca/drug-scheduling-canada-general-overview, provided by the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities.

If you believe your listings were incorrectly identified or have already been restricted, write to rpsa-sim@amazon.com with a list of affected ASINs. 

The Amazon Restricted Products team

Many Amazon sellers recently started trading stocks and crypto currencies, hoping to diversify their income, which is a very good idea with all the uncertainty which comes with the platform. For this reason, we launched a new Facebook group, Crypto Arbitrage Income (Bitcoin, Crypto, Altcoins, Blockchain, Trading) – feel free to join us and forget about the troubles of selling on Amazon for a moment!

Regarding Amazon Seller Performance, you can always participate in our Amazon Seller Performance – Friendly Advice – Worldwide group, where you will be very welcome.

If you are an Amazon Seller who needs help with any Amazon-related issues such as suspensions, listing blocks or is looking for professional assistance, please don’t hesitate to subscribe to my new OnlyFans page at: www.onlyfans.com/kikaangelic

To create perfect Amazon Product Images with a pure white background, feel free to watch my YouTube video about our image removal tool, which can be found within tools available on our Seller Union website:

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