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Amazon Accidentally Hides Ads From Sellers Promising Faster Delivery Than Amazon

By Rich Duprey - Mar 27, 2020 at 2:36PM

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It made changes to its storefront to prioritize certain goods, but the algorithm is apparently still working under the old rules.

Amazon.com (AMZN 3.53%) has warned customers that orders for non-essential items may be delayed beyond the two-day delivery guarantee Prime members are accustomed to. Because it is prioritizing the stocking and delivery of certain items, other orders could experience delays of as long as a month.

Some third-party retailers continue to offer speedy delivery on many of these non-essential items, sometimes even selling them for the same or lower prices. But customers won't know of them -- because Amazon is hiding these listings from view.

Amazon driver delivering a package

Image source: Amazon.com.

Putting Amazon first

According to Recode, it discovered that for a broad range of products, from sporting goods to office equipment, on which Amazon has slowed delivery, the e-commerce giant's algorithm is highlighting its own products instead of those from third parties that consumers could get quicker or more cheaply.

Amazon says hiding the listings was inadvertent. In a statement to Recode, the retailer said it made changes to its store to prioritize certain products, and "some of these changes have resulted in an error which, in some cases, resulted in an unintended variation in how we select which offers to feature." It promised to correct the situation as quickly as possible. 

Amazon normally favors delivery of items it sells or that third-party sellers ship to its warehouses for fulfillment, because it typically can get them to customers faster than if they ship from third-party facilities. However, the algorithm apparently hasn't been updated to recognize that this may no longer be the best option.

To get around the quirk in the system, consumers looking for a specific item can look on the listing for a text box that says "New & used" offerings from other sellers. When clicked, it will show all the price and shipment dates available.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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