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Amazon merged 2 of its most important teams, and it reflects a huge evolution for the company

Many of Amazon's fulfillment-center employees are getting a raise.
Many of Amazon's fulfillment-center employees are getting a raise. Getty/Rick T. Wilking
  • Amazon says there have been some "organizational changes" to the teams behind the Marketplace and retail divisions of the company, which have resulted in them merging.
  • The company says it has "been working for some time on standardizing the products, tools, and services we offer to the brands and resellers that sell on Amazon."
  • Customers likely don't see the retail and Marketplace sections of Amazon as being two separate entities, and the change now reflects that customer perception.
  • Amazon's Marketplace has also endured criticism over the years for fake reviews, counterfeit merchandise, and offensive items, which the company continues to make an effort to clean up.

Amazon is merging teams behind the scenes, and it reflects how customers likely already see the company.

The e-commerce giant said in a statement it has worked hard to make the customer experience on its website "seamless," whether the customer is "buying a product sold by us or by the millions of small businesses selling on our websites."

"We've been working for some time on standardizing the products, tools, and services we offer to the brands and resellers that sell on Amazon," the statement said.

As a result, Amazon has made some "organizational changes," merging the teams behind its retail and Marketplace departments.

In fact, that change reflects how customers likely already see the brand. They often don't make the mental distinction between items that are shipped and sold from Amazon and those that are coming from a third party. Most people just say they "bought it on Amazon" if they used the website to make the purchase, regardless of where it's actually coming from.

Take Mitt Romney and the Brioni tuxedo he bought for the Met Gala. He told The New York Times he had purchased it on Amazon, but it almost certainly came from a third-party seller, not Amazon itself.

Amazon's Marketplace is an increasingly big deal to the company. More than half of the sales on the store's website came from third-party sellers on Marketplace in 2017, according to Jeff Bezos' letter to shareholders.

Fewer barriers and a unified team could mean the distinction falls away altogether. Amazon has already done work to ensure that the customer's experience remains the most important aspect of any transaction. There are strict standards for sellers with regards to how many days a purchased item can wait until it is shipped to a customer, and how much the seller can charge for shipping, for example.

Some separate programs, like Fulfillment by Amazon and Prime Onsite, further serve to unify Marketplace selling with Amazon's own service.

Still, sometimes things do go wrong, and the Marketplace shopping experience hasn't been perfect. It has come under fire over the years as third-party sellers have been found hawking offensive merchandise and selling counterfeits. Sometimes, third-party sellers even engage in fraudulent practices, like charging customers thousands of dollars to ship a small item.

All of these are against Amazon's terms of service for sellers, of course, and the company is usually quick to remedy the issue. But Amazon hasn't been able to prevent it from happening yet. Neither have its competitors, like Walmart and Ebay.

With a continued focus, it's possible now is the time.

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