What does “Fulfilled by Amazon” mean?
When shopping on Amazon, you may have seen the words “Exemplified by Amazon” next to some of the items you buy. I hope you don’t notice anything different in your shopping experience, but you may have some issues.
amazon the marketplace
Amazon isn’t just an online store, and hasn’t been for some time. It’s a marketplace, like eBay or Alibaba; this better hides this fact.
Over 80% of products sold through Amazon are purchased not from Amazon but from an Amazon Marketplace seller who pays Amazon to list their product. The numbers get even crazier when you look at the products listed on Amazon, not just those sold: Of over 350 million products available, Amazon only sells 12 million directly – not counting books, media, and wine – the rest. market vendors sell.
Even if you’ve never noticed before that you’re buying from a Marketplace seller, chances are you do.
Fulfilled by Amazon
The reason most people don’t realize that Amazon is a marketplace like eBay is that it generally eases all the hardships. Sellers have two options:
- They can list their products on Amazon and, when an order comes in, pack and ship it themselves.
- They can list their products on Amazon and ship any number of items in bulk to an Amazon warehouse. When an order arrives, Amazon employees pack and ship it just like an Amazon product. This is completed by Amazon.
For sellers, the big advantage of Fulfilled by Amazon is that everything is handled by Amazon. They don’t need to run their own store, handle payment processing, deal with a shipper, pack things, or deal with customer service—for a small fee, Amazon does it. Sellers sometimes refer to Fulfillment by Amazon as “Fulfilled by Amazon.”
For customers, the upside is that they get the same regular Amazon experience, including things like Prime, free shipping, and more, for an additional 338 million products that Amazon doesn’t sell directly. Most people, including me, don’t even realize that they don’t buy directly from Amazon. Packages still arrive at your door.
How to spot an Amazon Marketplace seller
While Amazon doesn’t shout it from the rooftops when you buy from a Marketplace seller, it doesn’t hide the information either. Here is an official listing from Amazon.
And here’s one for a Marketplace seller using Fuldered by Amazon.
On the right side, under the “In Stock” section, Amazon lists the seller and shipper.
Marketplace sellers not using Ful Fulfilled by Amazon are even easier to spot. The buying process is different.
The problem with fulfillment by Amazon and the Amazon Marketplace
Run by Amazon and Amazon Marketplace are not without problems. With tens of thousands of sellers already on the platform and a system designed to make it easy to add new ones, Amazon cannot, and does not, scrutinize and monitor every seller or item. This has given rise to many criminals and bad actors.
Our own editor, Chris Hoffman, bought a mini PC to use as a media center for his TV. While the hardware was solid, it came with a pirated version of Windows. When he wrote a review calling the seller, they flagged his reviews and Amazon removed them and prevented him from posting any more reviews. It is not the behavior of a seller that is level.
SanDisk makes some of the best SD cards and other storage equipment. We are huge fans of your stuff here at How-To Geek. Unfortunately, they estimate that up to a third of SanDisk memory cards that have already been sold are fake. And of course some people buy these fake cards on Amazon.
There are dozens of additional strategies used by bad sellers, from hijacking legitimate listings with counterfeit products to selling things they don’t even have and running away with the money. Amazon doesn’t do anything until people start complaining, and by then it’s often too late. Since Amazon is always going to reimburse people with its A to Z guarantee, you still have to deal with the hassle of a scam.
How to avoid scammers on Amazon
As Amazon has captured a larger share of the online market, it has become an even better target for scammers. Amazon is trying to fix the problem, but it’s still a big problem. There is always a risk of getting scammed when buying from an Amazon Marketplace seller.
Having said that, I don’t recommend running out and canceling your Prime membership. The vast majority of the time you’ll be fine, especially if you exercise a little caution. If what you’re buying is shipped from Amazon or a third-party seller, check the listing and reviews. Hopefully you do, but if you see any red flags, maybe shop elsewhere.
To learn more about spotting fraudulent sellers in the wild, check out our comprehensive guide.