Amidst all the Prime Day hustle and bustle, Amazon slipped a huge news announcement under the rug: its third-party seller agreements are changing.
In what is likely a result of a seven-month anti-trust investigation into Amazon in Germany, the retailer is officially making changes to its Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement — the standard contract all merchants agree to when creating their Seller Central Account.
Who Will it Impact?
Though the move didn’t make many headlines, it will affect sellers all over the world, including those in Germany, France, Britain, Spain, and Italy, as well as American and Asian merchants who sell in these countries.
The changes will go into effect in the next 30 days.
According to Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy at Tinuiti, the move is likely a proactive one on the part of Amazon.
“It’s possible that part of the motivation of this change is to reduce the impact of black hat and bad actors on the marketplace by arming legitimate merchants with a means to protect themselves in the event of unfounded claims or intentional attacks by competitors,” Petriello said.
“However, it’s most likely that that is a preemptive move by Amazon in the face of increased pressure, especially in Europe, to offer more transparency and address perceived anti-competitive behavior.”
For reference, Germany’s anti-trust authority has been investigating Amazon’s seller terms for the last seven months. In addition, the European Commission recently launched an anti-trust investigation into the retailer as well, specifically looking into Amazon’s data use (and its possible violations of anti-competition rules in the EU.)
Though the changes to the agreement will certain help protect Amazon in light of these investigations, it’s not only the retailer that stands to gain. As Petriello explains, merchants see benefit from the updated agreement, too.
“Overall, this move by Amazon is intended to create a more fair and transparent global Marketplace for Sellers on the platform,” Petriello said.
“For Sellers, it means greater rights to dispute A-to-Z claims, make their case about suspensions, and gives them greater ability to stay abreast of and prepare for any future changes Amazon makes to their Business Agreement.”
What are the Changes?
The updated agreements included a slew of changes, but most importantly? They state that Amazon is now required to give merchants both an explanation and 30 days’ notice before they can be removed from the marketplace. Merchants can also appeal any decisions to suspend or terminate their accounts.
Some other updates you’ll want to note:
- A-to-Z Guarantee Claims: Merchants can now appeal Amazon’s decisions on A-to-Z claims. They can also appeal who Amazon has deemed responsible for return and refund costs on FBA-fulfilled orders. This includes chargeback costs.
- Selling Partner APIs: There are now separate API terms for sellers and developers (including on Marketplace Web Services). There are also changes to the permissible use policies for APIs.
- IP Rights: The scope of intellectual property rights sellers have to sign over to Amazon has been narrowed.
- FBA Inventory: The process for refusing, removing and disposing of FBA inventory has changed.
- Indemnification: These changes contain a lot of legalese, but they essentially update the policy on who’s liable for court and attorney’s fees, and in what scenarios.
Finally, if there are any future updates to the Business Solutions Agreement, the company will now provide at least 15 days of advance notice to merchants — something they’ve never done previously.
Merchants will not be required to sign the new agreement or make any updates within their dashboard. As Amazon explained in its press release on the update, “Your continued use of selling services after August 16 constitutes your acceptance of the updated agreement.”
If you’re currently selling on the marketplace, make sure you take time to read the full copy of the updated Business Solutions Agreement now, and if you have questions regarding the changes, reach out to Selling Partner Support for more help. Make sure you pay attention to anything that’s “redlined” on the agreement, as it indicates something that has been updated or changed.
Have more questions about the updates to Amazon’s Business Solutions Agreement? Email [email protected].