Amazon and a who’s who of online-only retailers are trying to kill proposed federal and state legislation that would make the companies disclose contact information for third-party sellers.
The bills would force Amazon and others to verify the identities of third-party sellers and provide consumers with ways to contact the stores. The proposed legislation is pitting brick-and-mortar retailers—including Home Depot, Walgreens, and JCPenney, which support the bills—against online retailers like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Poshmark, and others, which argue that the legislation would harm small sellers.
The bills come as brick-and-mortar retailers lost ground to online retailers throughout the pandemic—in 2020, 20 percent of consumer retail purchases were made online, compared with about 14 percent in 2019. But the legislation is also being proposed in response to a slew of counterfeit, stolen, and dangerous items that have appeared on marketplace sites.
The online retailers argue that the bills would compromise the privacy of third-party sellers. On some platforms, the majority of merchants run their businesses out of their homes. Etsy, for example, says 97 percent of its sellers do. A survey of Amazon sellers found that 70 percent have work outside of their Amazon businesses, suggesting that they, too, run the business from their homes.