September 16, 2011, 4:49 PM

Amazon gets serious about toy sales via its main e-commerce site

Toy retailers face holiday season restrictions for selling products on Amazon.com.

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Saying that it wants to “maintain buyer confidence in Amazon this holiday season,” Amazon.com Inc. has posted a notice to clients of Amazon Services that, effective Nov. 15, only sellers who meet certain criteria will be allowed to sell products in the online retailer’s Toys & Games section.

Amazon Services is a subsidiary that provides technology and e-commerce tools to other retailers, including those selling toys and other products through Amazon.com. The restrictions don’t apply to retailers whose orders are handled by Amazon Services’ Fulfillment by Amazon arm as long as their accounts remain in good standing, says Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

But for all other sellers, Amazon has once again released guidelines similar to those that have been in place in past holiday shopping seasons. Among them are:

● A seller’s first sale (not necessarily toy-specific) on Amazon.com must be prior to Sept. 19, 2011

● A seller cannot have an order cancel rate of more than 2.5% for the 30-day period prior to Nov. 1, 2011

● A seller cannot have a late shipment rate of more than 5% for the 30-day period prior to Nov. 1, 2011.

● A seller cannot have a “short-term order defect rate” of more than 1% for an unspecified time prior to Nov. 1, 2011. Amazon’s notice doesn’t clarify “short-term,” but it defines an order defect as an order that incurs negative customer feedback, a claim against a guarantee, or a credit card chargeback when a customer refuses to pay for an item.

“You can find your customer metrics in your seller account,” Amazon says in the notice, which it posted in an online Amazon Services forum for sellers. “If your performance does not meet the above criteria, we encourage you to take corrective action.”

Amazon declines to comment further about the restrictions.

But the holiday season notice to toy sellers is a routine matter at Amazon, says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps retailers sell through Amazon.com and other e-marketplaces. “This is something that Amazon does annually to make sure that very high consumer expectations in the Toy & Games category are met for the holidays,” he says. “Nothing out of the ordinary, but it does speak to how seriously Amazon considers the consumer experience—especially during the holidays.”

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