Buying an item on Amazon’s site doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily buying that item from Amazon. This can lead to serious confusion when you try to make a warranty claim, and seriously confuses some customers when a box from Walmart shows up on their doorstep with their Amazon order. Why would that happen? If a box from a different retailer shows up on your doorstep, it means that your seller is playing the retail arbitrage game and breaking Amazon’s rules.
When you shop on Amazon, you can buy either from Amazon.com itself, or from a Marketplace seller. These sellers could be anyone from your next-door neighbor who bought an extra pack of Sharpies to massive, nationwide wholesalers. Thanks to Fulfilled by Amazon, third-party sellers can have their items ship from Amazon’s warehouses and be part of the Prime program.
When a Re/Code reader reported receiving a Sam’s Club order after she purchased from Amazon, the seller claimed to use 20 different warehouses, and to ship directly from a vendor only when they’re out of stock of something. Sam’s Club is their vendor? While warehouse clubs do supply businesses, retail customers can also order from them directly.
Sellers small and large alike use retail arbitrage to get items into their inventory: a prominent recent example was when some Walmart stores across the country closed, and entrepreneurs loaded up on merchandise that they could sell at discounted prices on Amazon, eBay, or other venues. It’s simply taking advantage of low prices, liquidation, or loss leaders at one store and selling the items at retail elsewhere.
What’s against Amazon’s rules, though, is receiving an order, finding that another retailer sells it for cheaper, and ordering directly from the competitor to have it delivered to a customer’s house. That’s a very crude form of drop shipping. Now, drop shipping isn’t a bad thing. Arguably, Fulfilled by Amazon is a form of drop shipping, and sellers can use some other forms, but Amazon doesn’t allow sellers to simply order stuff cheaper from another retailer and have it sent directly to you.
If you receive a box shipped to you directly from Walmart, Sam’s Club, or another retailer that isn’t the Marketplace seller and without a packing slip with the seller’s name on it, you should report it to Amazon. Drop shipping in this way is against the rules, and can lead to loss of the seller’s Amazon privileges.
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