Renting Amazon Customers

Sellers on Amazon can no longer access their customer information like the full name and address, let alone contact them. On April 8th, Amazon removed customer details from the last report.

Sellers that fulfill their orders still have access to customer details, but those that use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) - the vast majority of Amazon sellers - do not. They used that data for sales tax remittance (a use case Amazon still supports with a new report) and also retargeting on marketing platforms like Facebook and mailing promotional materials like postcards directly.

Amazon prohibits the two latter use cases, but it is near impossible for Amazon to enforce that. Thus instead, Amazon is removing the data that enabled them. “Effective 4/8/2021, the Amazon Fulfilled Shipments report will no longer include Amazon Customer name and street address,” read Amazon’s note.

Amazon Fulfilled Shipments report on Seller Central

Sellers never had access to customer email addresses, and Amazon removed their phone numbers mid-2016. It had started further restricting access to customer details starting June 2019 when it made its data protection policy for developers more strict. Storing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like addresses was only allowed for thirty days, and only those that proved to need it could access it. That affected every software tool that dealt with sellers’ data.

It is bizarre that $300 billion worth goods were sold through Amazon by the millions of third-party sellers with little understanding of who those customers are. It is counterintuitive to the direct-to-consumer retail model prevalent elsewhere. But then customer names and addresses do little to help to understand them. Amazon has rolled out demographics reports inside of Brand Analytics that are more useful for that.

It is common for marketplaces to try to prevent off-platform transactions. Amazon’s changes over the past few years made the boundaries clearer, but they existed for a while. Outside of a few edge cases, those changes won’t make a difference to most sellers, not to mention customers.

No access to Amazon customers

Consumers on Amazon are Amazon’s consumers as far as it is concerned, and Amazon wants to keep it that way. The reason sellers used customer data for creating lookalike audiences on Facebook was because it enabled directing them to their websites. There, they could upsell them, get their contact details, and start reducing reliance on Amazon. It is not shocking that Amazon doesn’t want that.

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Juozas Kaziukėnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Juozas wears multiple hats in the management of Marketplace Pulse, including writing most of the articles. Based in New York City. Advisor to other startups and entrepreneurs. Occasional speaker at conferences.

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