Retail Arbitrage Amazon's policy


I’ve always under the impression that retail arbitrage, especially in certain categories (Health & Personal Care, Beauty, Grocery, etc.), was not allowed.

I’ve chatted with seller support to have the matter cleared out today; I’ve been told that, surprisingly, there was no policy on this matter.

I’ve tried to retrace the article in the agreement but could not find it.

My question is, has this article been removed? If so, when a seller has FBA lose their item, would AZ consider the receipt as a sufficient proof for compensation? What is the purpose of providing distributor invoices then? Pretty much anyone then is able to sell anything then, correct?
Kinds of remove the quality insurance and bring AZ closer to fleeBay IMO.


Health & Personal Care, Beauty, Grocery are gated categories. Pre-approval by Amazon or grandfathering are required to sell there.

Some of these categories are more stringent than others in their requirements for suppliers. And the application of rules relative to sources appear to be inconsistent and getting tighter.


I think the reason they don’t forbid it is because there are no laws against it.

They have curtailed the practice by putting condition guidelines like the manufacturers warranty requirement to sell a product as ‘new’. But that’s an Amazon rule–it doesn’t prevent a seller from selling an item elsewhere as ‘new’.


I encouraged no one to do anything. I find it a strange viewpoint that saying something completely untrue to mislead people asking for advice is considered ethical, while telling them the truth is unethical. People can make their own decisions - it isn’t up to me or the people who dislike retail arbitrage to make those decisions for them by supplying false information.

I have zero problem with someone saying they think RA is a terrible idea. Be my guest. But I do have a problem with them saying it is not allowed, or that one has to buy from a wholesaler to sell as new.


Violates the spirit? I don’t see that. Amazon was built on retail arbitrage for books.


Acutally it falls under the condition guidelines:

New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.

An item sold through a authorized dealer still carries the original Manufacturer’s Warranty. Many companies will not honor the Warranty if it is not purchased through an authorized dealer.
If you look at some reviews on some items it seems even Amazon does some under the table purchasing and are not authorized dealers:

+0 of 1 people found the following review helpful+
+1 Amazon NOT a certified Pioneer reseller!+
+ByS. Mileson January 6, 2015+
+Verified Purchase+
+These headphones were great for the two months that they lasted. Since I was past the 30-day return period for Amazon, I called Pioneer to get them repair or replaced under warranty. Pioneer refused my claim, saying Amazon is NOT a certified retailer, and therefore they would not help me. Luckily I had purchased the Square Trade warranty (since headphones are notorious for short lives,) and SquareTrade refunded my purchase price!+

So the problem is in finding out which companies will honor the warranty from non licensed/authorized/certified re-sellers.


No official policy for H&B and groceries, except for the specific prohibitions
no expired or near expired product
no open product
no samples
no stuff from uncertified labs or kitchens

And many brands restrict their products and use of their photos to their authorized retailers who have brand owners knowledge and permission to be on Amazon List is always changing, and a misstep here can be a permanent suspension

And if a customer questions authenticity, Amazon accepts only invoices as proof. Again, risking suspension or at least product being permanently blocked for you.

Slippery slope and risky business. I know some that are very successful at it, but they know what they can and can’t sell

I prefer to not skate so close to the edge of the thin ice.


In essence, then, until a customer complains about authenticity/condition (exp. date, tamper-proofing, etc), AZ will never re-ask the invoice and seller is basically free to do as pleased, correct?



Then Amazon is absolutely free to do as pleased …


There is no policy in general, but there has been a requirement for evidence of authorized retailers, proof of purchase from authorized sources for several categories that either require gating approval or in defence of brand owner rights. Those have either been for legal reasons (authorized dealers for use of certain brands), quality concerns (electronics, jewelry) or for safety reasons (foods, cosmetics, etc).



Don’t confuse receipts with invoices, they are two different things. When Amazon ask for invoices, receipts are not good enough. Invoices tell Amazon many things a receipt does not.


I agree with Lake. It is one thing for an established seller to continue using retail arbitrage in certain categories, while we can. The list of categories that allow it grows smaller all the time. Sellers get suspended left and right because buyers complain about a product and the seller is not able to prove to amazon’s satisfaction that it wasn’t a knockoff, because it was acquired through retail arb.

It seems to me unkind to suggest to brand new sellers that they can create a successful amazon business using retail arb. Maybe they can, for a little while, depending on the products. It won’t last, and they will be left with lots of inventory to try to unload.



I know, I just feel that retail arbitrage is somewhat unethical towards the customer. When using this +motus openrandi+ , you, the seller cannot guarantee integrity of the product. Has the retail store you bought the item from repacked the item? Have the tablets/cookies/chocolate bar been droped numerous time so that everything in there is powdered?

I’ve been in brick and mortar retail long enough to know that customer can do a lot of things to a product without the retailler knowing. e-customers are special in the way rely on you to know condition of the item and retail arbitrage add a layer of unneeded uncertainty to the customer. Ultimately, it jeopardizes the whole third-party seller thing IMO.

Anyhow, case closed, just go with the flow.


There is no official policy against it but it is a grey area that can lead to problems.

If you purchase an item from Target and sell it on Amazon, you can’t claim the item is “new”. Since you can’t sell Heath and Beauty or Food items as “used” it limits what you can get away with.

If your items come into question, and you have to prove your items are on the up and up, that the items are new, purchased from an authorized wholesaler, your retail store receipts usually are not excepted. So, it is allowed until your products come into question.

It might be a business model to make a few extra dollars for a period of time, but it is not a good long term business model. I wouldn’t want to base my future business on the few items I might find on a Walmart clearance shelf.


+That is completely false.+

The above is completely false.

Besides, if the seller wants to carry the merchandise they should get up an account and purchase wholesale.


Just so that it is clear for everyone, I only sell thing that I’ve got from my distributors/ manufacturers. I sell only items that haven’t hit the shelves.
I’m not whining, just stating that what I thought was obvious (prohibition of retail arbitrage) is apparently not.


I think you can continue to practice retail arb until the day you can no longer make money doing it or lose your selling privileges.

It is an increasingly dangerous business strategy every day, but people choose more dangerous actions with regularity.

Encouraging others to follow this strategy is IMO unethical for those who do not practice retail arb and bad business for those who do…


You asked for a policy that states an item bought at target cannot be sold as new.

I stated the policy Sorry you don’t like it.

I didn’t say it was a blanket policy, I said you have to see which manufacturers will still honor their warranty when bought from a non authorized dealer.

You made a blanket statement saying there are no restrictions on where you can get your merchandise and sell it as new.

[quote=“Red Wing”]

You are confusing the issue. No one argues that when a manufacturer limits warranties to authorized sellers that those items can be sold as new on Amazon - they can’t. The objection was to the statement that nothing bought retail can be sold as new on Amazon. That is just plain false.

There are other things that cannot be sold as new - copyrighted logo materials for example. But that really has nothing to do with retail arbitrage - you can get suspended for selling those things bought from a wholesaler, too.


I have been told by SS that a simple cash register receipt was enough to show the value of an item for reimbursement. It does not even have to be itemized. Of course that was one SS agent, who knows what the next will say.


That is completely false. There are no restrictions on where I, as a seller, can get my inventory. If there are, please link to the requirement on any amazon page. Please reference any rule anywhere that says an item bought at Target cannot be sold as new +because+ it was bought at Target (or any other retail source). Anywhere.

You can’t. So please stop making this stuff up.