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Amazon Announces Changes for Third-Party Sellers in Response to EU Oversight Threat

image for Mr.Whiskey/Shutterstock
Mr.Whiskey/Shutterstock
  • Germany's Federal Cartel Office had been investigating Amazon's Business Services Agreement for several months.
  • Under the new rules, sellers will be given 30 days' notice and a reason for removal.
  • This latest batch of changes at the massive e-commerce site doesn't take effect for another 30 days.

After finding itself under the watchful eye of antitrust regulators in Germany for the past several months, Amazon has agreed to enact new rules for third-party sellers that officials say are fairer to merchants.

Earlier today, the massive online retailer said it will amend its Business Services Agreement to comply with existing European guidelines. In return, the German Federal Cartel Office dropped its inquiry into the company.

"We have achieved far-reaching improvements for retailers on Amazon's marketplaces," said Andreas Mundt, cartel office chief, in a statement. "We are dropping our investigation."

Once this is implemented, Amazon estimates that 300,000 sellers will be immediately affected on its German site. While these changes are largely focused on the German page, officials said they will also impact merchants in Britain, France, Italy, and Spain and worldwide pages in America and Asia.

While the deal reached with Germany eases some oversight pressure on Amazon, it didn't completely end it. Just hours after the German case was dropped, European Union investigators announced that they were opening their own investigation into Amazon's use of third-party sellers' data.

While third-party sellers account for approximately 58% of Amazon's physical merchandise sales, the platform's community of small businesses and merchants have experienced hardships as of late. Along with instances where stores were suddenly delisted from Amazon's website, third-party merchants have also had to deal with a surge in counterfeit products and scams.

Under the new third-party seller rules, Amazon will now give sellers 30 days' notice and a formal reason for removing a seller. Previously, stores could be shut down for seemingly no reason at the time.

Additionally, European merchants will be able to sue Amazon in their own country under certain circumstances. While that may not seem like a major concession from Amazon, the only country that allowed for litigation against the retailer was Luxembourg. Third-party sellers will also be able to appeal decisions made by Amazon as they pertain to returns and refunds.

Amazon will also provide new rules for product descriptions, make its terms of services easier to understand and make customer reviews fairer. The new rules will allow sellers to talk about Amazon more openly, since confidentiality requirements were previously in place.

"We'll continue working hard, investing heavily, and inventing new tools and services to help our selling partners around the world reach new customers and grow their business," said Amazon in a statement.

 

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining Business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.