Amazon on Wednesday informed its U.S. sellers they will soon have to display their business name and address on their Amazon.com seller profile page. For individual sellers, this will include the individual’s name and address. A similar system is already in place across Amazon’s stores in Europe, Japan and Mexico, due to local laws. Amazon says it’s making the change to ensure there’s a more consistent baseline of seller information across its platform, so online shoppers can make informed buying decisions.
The change, of course, is not just about transparency.
Amazon’s U.S. marketplace is its oldest and largest, with 461,000 active U.S. sellers out of its 2.2 million worldwide actives. In total, there are 8.6 million registered sellers worldwide and Amazon adds around a million more per year, according to Marketplace Pulse data.
Amazon’s marketplace also accounts for around half the retailer’s sales. But as it has grown, it has been afflicted by a variety of issues and fraud, including problems with counterfeit goods.
Though Amazon has long been accused of avoiding these issues, it’s more recently pledged to spend billions to address the problem. Amazon even inserted itself into legal battles with fraudulent sellers and counterfeiters over the past couple of years, including those with designers and accessory makers, as well as others participating in the fake reviews economy.
Last year, Amazon also launched a set of tools for brands and manufacturers under its “Project Zero” initiative, which work to proactively combat counterfeiting.
And just this April, Amazon announced it was piloting a new system aimed at verifying the identity of third-party sellers over video-conferencing — a shift from its in-person verifications that had to stop due to the coronavirus outbreak. Through this system, Amazon checks that the individual seller’s ID matches the person and the documents they shared with their application, among other things.
Now Amazon is telling its U.S. sellers their business name and address will need to be on their profile by September 1, 2020.
The change will help businesses fighting fraud or taking legal action against sellers over counterfeit goods. Consumers will also have an address in case the product has caused harm and they need to contact the seller or even initiative legal action of their own.
Once the new system goes live in the U.S., the seller’s storefront on Amazon.com will display an expanded set of information about their business.
A photo from Marketplace Pulse shows how this may look, with a comparison of a U.K. seller page with its current U.S. counterpart:
In a statement, Amazon says the change is about consistently, avoiding the topic of online fraud.
“Over the years, we have developed many ways for sellers to share more about their business, including through features like the seller profile pages, ‘Store’ pages for brand owners, and Handmade ‘Maker Profile’ pages,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “These features help customers learn more about sellers’ businesses and their products. Beginning September 1, we will also display sellers’ business name and address on their Amazon.com seller profile page to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions,” they said.
Update, Sept. 4, 2020:
We reached out to Amazon to understand why, as Sept. 1 has come and gone, a large number of U.S. sellers are still not displaying their information. Amazon told us that Sept 1 was only the “start” of the rollout. And this had been communicated properly to sellers (if not to press).
Here is how one of Amazon’s messages to sellers reads:
“We want to remind you that beginning September 1, 2020, we will display a seller’s business name and address on their Amazon.com Seller Profile page. For individuals entities, we will display the individual name and business address. This is consistent with Seller Profile pages in Amazon stores in Europe, Japan, and Mexico. This will be rolled out across all U.S. Seller Profile pages over the week.”
As TechCrunch now understands that Amazon needs a week to complete the rollout, we’ll check back then.