A search for Kate Spade on Amazon reveals more than 3,158,750 results, but only a small percentage of those are sold by Kate Spade’s official Amazon store or other reputable retailers like Shopbop or Zappos. This is common among fashion brands; of the Amazon SKUs for 29 fashion brands tracked in L2’s Amazon Fashion report, 81% are third-party listings.
While not all third-party sellers chip away at a brand’s reputation, many use damaging tactics like false discounts (i.e. selling at or higher than MSRP and advertising a higher original price). Furthermore, third-party seller images are often subpar and not aspirational. Also, it is important for brands to understand the origins of leaks in their supply chains since these unofficial sellers do not obtain merchandise directly from the brand.
Cleaning up third-party product listings is not an impossible feat. In fact, a study of the number of third-party sellers in each category over time shows precedent for cleanup. Listing restrictions exist for forty-four percent of Watches & Jewelry brands that officially distribute on Amazon. In the Beauty category, restrictions extend to unofficial distributors as well. Thirty-eight percent of Beauty brands officially distributing and 9% of those not distributing on the platform have such restrictions.
Brands are encouraged to partner with Amazon as sellers or advertisers to benefit from its regulations. However, Amazon’s incentive to regulate its open marketplace is limited as third-party sellers are essential to Amazon’s competitive strategy and bottom line.