Amazon is eliminating a planned fee for sellers who don’t use its shipping services, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg.
The abrupt reversal suggests the company is being more cautious about how much money it is trying to take from online sellers amid an escalating antitrust investigation.
Amazon announced the 2% charge on sellers in August, and it was set to go into effect on October 1. The levy was interpreted by Amazon sellers and consultants as a bold move as the US government is poised to file an antitrust lawsuit against e-commerce. -trading giant. The federal case is expected to focus in part on Amazon’s alleged attempts to coerce merchants into using its logistics services.
“The 2% Seller Fulfilled Prime fee was intended to cover our costs, but after careful consideration we have made the decision not to implement this program fee to ensure it does not impact seller sentiment regarding the fee on participating in the program,” an Amazon spokesperson said. in an emailed statement.
Amazon has been accused of having too much power over the roughly 2 million sellers who use its platform, which accounts for nearly 38% of all U.S. online spending, according to Insider Intelligence. The Federal Trade Commission is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon this month.
The fee would have applied to thousands of third-party sellers who ship products through Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime program, which guarantees fast delivery even if the company doesn’t handle shipping itself. The levy would have been added to the commission – usually 15% – that merchants already pay Amazon to sell products on the popular online store.
Amazon did not explain to sellers why the fee was necessary when it was announced in August. Amazon began notifying merchant partners this week of the cancellation of the proposed fee, attributing the decision to seller feedback, the documents show.
In recent years, Amazon has increased fees for sellers, who typically pay for advertising and logistics to maximize their sales. The business has become increasingly important to the company as sales growth in its core online businesses slows. Merchant services generated $32.3 billion in revenue in the second quarter, up 18% from the same period a year earlier and ahead of the profitable cloud services sector. Last year, for the first time, seller fees started eating up about half the cost of each sale, making it harder for sellers to make a profit.
Amazon launched Seller Fulfilled Prime in 2015 as a way to expand inventory without overloading fulfillment centers.
Amazon’s seller fees have been a focus of regulators and lawmakers since 2019, when a merchant accused Amazon of using its e-commerce dominance to force sellers to use its logistics services. The accusation, since repeated by several sellers, has emerged as a focus in the FTC’s antitrust case against Amazon, according to people familiar with the situation.