Does a new product donation program for marketplace sellers make Amazon the good guy?
Amazon.com has been alternately portrayed as the villain and hero over the years with regard to its business practices. The e-tail and technology giant took heat from Bernie Sanders and other advocates for American workers, but Amazon raised its minimum hourly wage for warehouse workers to $15. More recently, Amazon came under criticism for destroying unsold goods that could have been used to help improve the lives of those in need.
As in the wage debate case, Amazon has taken steps to answer its critics and improve its brand image at the same time. Yesterday, the company announced the creation of Fulfillment by Amazon Donations, whereby eligible returned products and overstock sold by third-party marketplace vendors will be given to charitable organizations in the U.S. and UK.
The new program, which will launch Sept. 1, follows media reports that looked at the environmental and societal impact of tossing out millions of products that could be put to use. One such news account claimed that Amazon dumped around three million unwanted products in France alone last year.
Amazon, which claims to donate millions of products to charities each year, said the new program simply extends its business practice to its marketplace vendors.
“We know getting products into the hands of those who need them transforms lives and strengthens local communities,” Alice Shobe, director, Amazon in the Community, said in a statement. “We are delighted to extend this program to sellers who use our fulfillment services.”
Amazon faces growing criticism and scrutiny as it continues to grab market share across business categories. The company, which has continually promoted itself as a supporter of small business, faces some skepticism in this regard. A recent CNBC/Survey Monkey Small Business Survey of roughly 10,000 Americans found that 59 percent believe Amazon is bad for small business, significantly more than the 22 percent who thought it was good. The findings sharply depart from the same study conducted two years ago, which found that 37 percent thought Amazon was bad for small businesses and 33 percent thought it was good.
- Amazon to enable donation of excess and returned products to charities for sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon – Amazon.com
- Amazon will now donate unsold warehouse merchandize by default instead of trashing it – The Verge
- Amazon is launching a new program to donate unsold products, after reports that millions were being destroyed – CNBC
- Amazon warehouses trash millions of unsold products, media reports say – CBS News
- ‘Capital’: When Amazon employees destroy tons of unsold – RTL M6
- American consumers are worrying more about Amazon’s power, a new CNBC survey finds – CNBC
- Should retail rivals see Amazon’s $15 minimum wage and raise it $1? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Amazon, generally speaking, is winning or losing the public relations battle with critics of its business practices? What, if anything, can other retailers and brands learn from how Amazon.com deals with negative press and social media attention?