Amazon.com recently became an Authorized Reseller of Apple products, meaning that Apple specifically approved the sale of its products on Amazon and, as a result, can better control its sales on the online marketplace.
This also means that only Amazon or other Apple-authorized sellers can sell certain Apple devices on its online marketplace—Amazon third-party sellers cannot in the absence of permission from Apple to do so. These devices include computers, iPads, Apple Watches and Apple TV, and will likely include iPhones soon. This arrangement affects the sales of Apple products on Amazon in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and India.
In preparation for this move, Apple notified all of its third-party sellers that they would have to apply to Apple to become authorized sellers of Apple products, or their listings would automatically be removed by Amazon. According to an Amazon seller forum, this led third-party sellers whose sole business was selling Apple products to complain to Amazon that this would “doom” their business. Currently, consumers can still buy accessories for Apple products on Amazon, like an accessories set for the Apple AirPods or the Apple Pencil, from third-party sellers.
Undoubtedly, Apple’s goal was to both streamline the buying process for Apple products across various platforms, but also—and perhaps more importantly—to reduce the unauthorized sale of products on Amazon.
That the world’s most powerful brand has taken these steps is a testament to the fact that brands must be proactive in controlling their online sales in light of today’s market dynamics. While not all companies enjoy Apple’s brand power and the ability to negotiate terms of this nature, companies can and should carefully curate their online sellers and significantly limit those sellers allowed to sell on online marketplaces.