Amazon’s Sales By Third-Party Sellers Hit 2 Billion Items, 40% Of Total

40% of the items sold on Amazon.com in 2014 weren’t sold by Amazon. Sure, Amazon collected fees, a percentage of payments, and storage fees for items stored in and shipped from Amazon warehouses. However, Amazon didn’t own the actual stuff, serving as a sales platform instead of a retailer for 2 billion items sold on the site.

That’s according to an announcement from the company meant to celebrate the two million businesses of all sizes that sell on Amazon.

There is a downside for consumers in all of this. While more vendors means lower prices and more choices, as well as alternate options to buy things when Amazon itself runs out, there is a disadvantage. Buying something from a third-party seller who isn’t an authorized seller can void your manufacturer’s warranty. There’s also a danger to buying some items, like medicine, cosmetics, from third-party sellers since you can’t know the conditions in which they’ve been stored.

As one Consumerist reader wrote to Klipsch after his warranty claim was denied:

I bought it from Amazon.com so I didn’t think twice. Frankly consumers shouldn’t have to check a manufacturer’s website to verify they are purchasing from an authorized reseller. I am at a loss as to how a product that I purchase sealed in a new box would fail to qualify for a warranty.

The same issue comes up when purchasing items on eBay, for example, or any other selling platform, but Amazon’s setup complicates things even more. When a seller uses the “Fulfilled by Amazon” program where they stash their stuff in an Amazon warehouse and let Amazon handle the shipping, there’s another layer of potential confusion for buyers: the item is shipped by Amazon and eligible for Prime shipping.

Yay for Amazon sellers: there are probably many among our readership. You’re great. The possible problem for customers is that many still don’t understand that there’s a difference between buying “on” Amazon and buying “from” Amazon.

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Buying Something On Amazon’s Site Doesn’t Mean You’re Buying It From Amazon