Don’t Be a Price-Gouger: The 3P Seller’s Guide

As 3P sellers, you have the power to purchase and price items within Amazon’s marketplace. But with great power comes great responsibility, so it’s important not to fall prey to the temptation of price-gouging essential items during times of crisis – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Price gouging is a very real threat in e-commerce and is especially detrimental during times of high demand, such as when buyers are in need of essential items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or medical supplies. When 3P sellers take advantage of the situation and raise prices on these items, it leaves vulnerable customers unable to afford them or unable to access them at all.
That’s why we have put together this guide for 3P sellers on Amazon – so that you can resist the temptation to price-gouge and instead be a responsible seller who understands the impacts their pricing has on customers. Here are some tips for keeping prices reasonable and fair for all buyers.

Understanding the Legalities of Price-Gouging

Amazon has strict policies regarding price-gouging, and as a third-party seller, you’ll need to observe a few key considerations if you want to remain in good standing.
First, it’s important to note that Amazon has zero tolerance for any item listed at an inflated price. For instance, if a PC monitor is normally $100 and you list it on Amazon for $500, then Amazon could (and likely will) take action against your listing.
Second, keep in mind that the rules around price-gouging vary significantly depending on the state/region. For instance, Amazon is currently enforcing its Fair Pricing Policy only in California—so if you’re selling from another state/country, then you can set prices as you please (just so long as they remain within the bounds of what is deemed ‘reasonable’).
Finally—and most importantly—it’s critical that you differentiate between ‘essential goods’ and ‘non-essential goods’. Essential goods are those goods which are essential for the health and safety of individuals during times of crisis. For example: face masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers would all fall into this category; whereas items such as laptop computers or video games would not qualify as essential goods.

Consider the Consequences of Price-Gouging

It’s no secret that Amazon has become essential for everyday life. And while it provides welcomed utility and convenience, it’s important to remember that it’s also a marketplace, and that part of what makes it so successful is the care with which it treats its customers.
Price gouging—that is, significantly raising the price of essential items during times of market stress—is against Amazon’s Seller Code of Conduct and, as such, is discouraged. Not only does this create an unethical environment, but heavy-handed tactics like this can have long-term consequences for your business on Amazon.
The consequences are two fold: The first is a decrease in customer loyalty and brand reputation when customers have felt taken advantage of or scammed. The second comes in the form of Amazon actually taking steps to limit your selling ability or shutting down your account completely if they consider you to be price-gouging.
Your best bet? Stick close to fair prices and maintain a good relationship with your customers, even when essential items are scarce.

Identifying Markets for Sustainable Pricing Strategies

It’s important to identify markets that provide sustainable pricing strategies, so you can maintain an ethical price range for your products.
Here are some tips to help you do this:
  • Research Your Market: It’s important to research the market on Amazon and understand what other sellers are listed at, so you know where a fair price would lie. You don’t want to be undercutting yourself by setting a price that is too low, nor do you want to be overcharging by setting a price that is too high.
  • Keep Up with Competitors: Keep an eye on competitors as they list their prices and adjust yours accordingly. This can help ensure that your prices remain reasonable compared to others in the market while also keeping up with supply and demand.
  • Know Your Costs: It’s important to understand your costs before selling a product. You should calculate how much it costs to source each item and then factor in basic shipping costs and any other costs associated with selling the item on Amazon. Having this knowledge will help you set prices that are fair for everyone involved.

Developing Cost-Saving Solutions for Long-Term Profits

Of course, no seller wants to be seen as a ‘price-gouger’, but also, nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a loss in profits. The key is to recognize the need for cost-saving solutions that can help your business remain profitable in the long term.
One of the best ways to save costs is by investing in technology that increases efficiency and helps streamline processes. Automation can assist in placing orders, generating invoices, tracking sales data, and automating customer service tasks. Investing in automation now can allow you to reduce manpower and save on costs such as payroll and training while still providing excellent customer service.
You might also consider partnering with other businesses and negotiating win-win deals that increase your profits without the need to raise prices. By leveraging existing relationships with suppliers or using third-party vendors, you might be able to reduce shipping costs or obtain discounts on inventory purchases.
By finding cost-saving solutions like these, you are not only putting money back into your pocket – you are helping your brand maintain an ethical reputation among customers on Amazon.

Balancing Quality and Pricing for Consumer Satisfaction

As a 3P seller, you have to achieve the right balance between price and quality, in order to ensure consumer satisfaction. Quality products are essential – if a customer isn’t happy with their purchase, they may return it or leave a bad review. This can reduce your sales and damage your reputation as an Amazon seller.

At the same time, hiking up prices too high can mean that customers look elsewhere for better value – it is important to offer good prices, in the spirit of competition. Fortunately, there are ways you can maintain a fair pricing structure while still turning a decent profit:

Bulk Pricing:

Advantageous buying terms with manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers can help you save money when purchasing in bulk that can be passed on to customers through lower prices.

Price Monitoring Software:

Regularly monitoring competitors’ prices helps ensure that yours remains competitive and attractive for potential buyers. Price monitoring software such as Amazon repricing software and Keepa Price History can be used to scan listings and react quickly to changes in the marketplace.

Evaluate your Supply Chain:

Evaluate your supply chain regularly for new ways to reduce costs, such as alternative sourcing of raw materials or switching suppliers if needed. Doing so could help you cut costs without compromising on quality or pushing the price up for customers.
By keeping these tips in mind, 3P sellers can help maintain fair pricing structures and optimize profits without compromising on quality or alienating customers!

Practicing Ethics in a Crisis: How to Resist Temptation

The problem of price gouging during a crisis is a difficult one to tackle, as the temptation to increase prices may be too great to resist. However, it is important to remember that ethical practices should always be observed, even in times of difficulty.
Practicing morality during a crisis comes with many benefits, including:
  • Increased trust among customers;
  • Improved reputation for your store or brand overall;
  • Positive reinforcement from other Amazon sellers and customers;
  • Potential long-term benefits from good customer experiences.

Conclusion

Amazon’s low-price strategy has revolutionized the way we shop for essential items. However, as a 3P seller, it’s important to resist the temptation of hiking your prices, as this wrongfully deprives customers of access to these essential items. Use Amazon’s tools and best practices to manage your prices, like researching competitors’ pricing, setting maximum prices for all items, and avoiding setting prices too close to the buy box minimum. Cartkaboom can help sellers analyze competitor pricing and set optimal prices that are fair for customers while also maximizing profitability. Cartkaboom’s dynamic pricing capabilities can help 3P sellers adjust their prices in real-time to stay competitive, while also ensuring that essential goods remain accessible to customers.
By employing smart and responsible pricing strategies, 3P sellers on Amazon can ensure their success on the platform while also contributing to a better shopping experience for customers. With Cartkaboom’s support, 3P sellers can confidently navigate Amazon’s complex pricing landscape and succeed in their e-commerce endeavors.
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Krystel Borg

Krystel possesses a unique expertise in transforming company sales, thanks to her knack for devising strategic blueprints and fostering high-performing teams. Throughout her career, she’s been at the helm of businesses that have burgeoned from mere startups to eight-figure giants. She boasts two notable exits in the CPG sector, with one being the acclaimed Swander Pace Private Equity Group.
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Navin Williams

With 11 years of leadership experience in Business Management, Navin Williams has consistently delivered transformative results. His leadership has championed small businesses on their path to accelerated growth, steered large enterprises towards a surge in efficiency by up to 40%, and provided strategic direction to e-commerce companies navigating the dynamic digital marketplace.
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Jane Sampson

Jane Sampson boasts over 15 years in the Apparel & Home Fashions sector. Throughout her career, she’s demonstrated a depth of knowledge in areas like Design, Product Development, Global Sourcing, and Market Research. Her business acumen is backed by a proven record in Procurement, Business Planning, and Sales.
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Beyond her corporate achievements, Jane shares her industry insights as an Adjunct Professor at Baylor University. She remains committed to fostering growth and nurturing future talents, ensuring they’re equipped for success in the dynamic world of Apparel & Home Fashions.

Archana Reddy Williams

From the corporate world to the dynamic world of Amazon, Archana’s journey has been nothing short of transformative. As a seasoned management consultant, corporate leader, and a 7-figure Amazon seller, she founded CartKaboom with a vision to demystify the Amazon maze for brands.
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At the core of it all, Archana’s faith in God and her family remain her pillars. She resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three kids. For relaxation and fun, she enjoys travelling, hiking, and exploring nature, seeing it as a reflection of God’s beauty. She’s also active in local church initiatives, emphasising community growth and unity.