Amazon.com recently tested a feature in its mobile app that showed products on other sellers’ product pages for lower-priced items, often from Amazon's own private labels, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. For example, if someone was searching for AAA batteries on Amazon and got a sponsored link for Energizer, they would click on the listing and then a pop-up ad would appear saying “similar item, lower price.” In order to proceed, the user would have to either click on the item, which was from the AmazonBasics brand, or close the ad. The experiment ended last week, WSJ reported, and it only appeared on a few devices. An Amazon spokesperson told WSJ that the company didn’t call the pop-up windows ads, but said they were a way for shoppers to find cheaper products.
“We regularly experiment with new shopping experiences for customers, and this was a small test,” the company said. “The similar, lower-priced product options shown to customers featured relevant items from a range of brands on our website and were displayed when a customer clicked on any type of listing.” The pop-ups, Amazon said, were created by the retail team, and not the advertising unit.
Total Retail's Take: Despite the fact that the test is over, this experiment adds to the concerns many Amazon sellers have regarding selling on the marketplace. The test may have helped boost popularity for Amazon's private-label products, and represented a potential nightmare for sellers. In fact, according to data from Business Insider, having to compete with Amazon is a concern for 38 percent of the e-tailer's third-party sellers, but there's not a lot they can do given that 44 percent of Amazon sellers generate 51 percent or more of their sales on the platform. However, according to Business Insider, this is far from the first time Amazon has tested a feature that its sellers or customers might find dubious. For example, it experimented with promoting its own private labels on competitive brands’ product listings in October when it included "Similar Item From Our Brands" links directly below listings for non-Amazon products. Amazon also placed unsolicited sponsored product ads in customers’ baby registries that looked exactly like listings the shoppers had selected themselves, except for a light gray "Sponsored" tag present above the product name. These experiments were just tests, and as such are no longer being used — at least for now. While Amazon sellers can breath a sigh of relief now, it's safe to say that Amazon has plans to increase the sales of its own products, with little regard to how that impacts its third-party sellers.