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Benzinga reports that Amazon has issued a directive to merchants who sell on its site but handle their own fulfillment - if they ship via the US Postal Service (USPS) one-to-three day delivery service, they have to buy the postage from Amazon.

According to the story, consultants say that "Amazon stands to benefit financially through 'postal arbitrage,' in which it leverages the difference between the prices it charges and the low rates it receives through its Negotiated Service Agreement (NSA) that high-volume users strike with USPS. In addition, Amazon's NSA likely includes 'tiered incentives' that promise even deeper discounts for the e-tailer in return for more volumes tendered to USPS."

The Benzinga story makes the point that Amazon may be hunting for bigger game than just commissions on postage, arguing that "the move is part of Amazon's effort to force merchants into the e-tailer's Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) network, in which Amazon manages customers' supply chains for a fee.

"The self-fulfillment service, Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP), allows merchants to choose their own logistics partners and retain 'Prime Merchant' status as long as they hit one- to two-day delivery targets 98.5% of the time. Failure to do so can cause a merchant to forfeit the coveted designation, which can result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in lost sales. Consumers are incentivized to buy Prime-labeled products because they pay monthly or annual fees for Amazon's Prime service and want to get the most out of it. They are also attracted by the service's money-back guarantee if delivery commitments aren't met. Merchants are not penalized for late deliveries of FBA-fulfilled goods."
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