Over a month ago, we took a look at how third-party Amazon Marketplace vendors were taking advantage of the Nintendo Switch shortage with inflated prices. Since then, Amazon did what it could to undermine price gougers' efforts, including monitoring the Switch's main product listings, or SKUs.
But, like cockroaches scrambling to avoid the spotlight, price gougers have found new ways to list — and sell — overpriced Nintendo Switches on Amazon Marketplace.
First, the evidence. The timeseries below shows how many unique, best-selling items at Amazon include the term "Nintendo Switch" in their names.
From early 2020 through late April, the number of top-100 sales-rank items with "Nintendo Switch" in their titles was relatively constant. That's because even third-party vendors were using the same item name and description. That's how Marketplace is intended to behave: you can buy an item from a first-party seller, or you can choose to get it from a third-party vendor at a different price, in a different condition, or with different sales and shipping terms. You'll often see it under "New & Used from..." with various prices and terms.
At the end of April — and after our initial report on price gouging — the number of items with the term "Nintendo Switch" in their names exploded. On April 27, 2020, there were 33 such items appearing Amazon's sales carts. On April 28, than number shot to 143, and remains there as of this week.
Meanwhile, the average price of the non-third-party marketplace Nintendo Switch — as sold by Amazon itself — went from a price-gouged $479 in March and April back to normal, and then to near zero, simply because it's not available. Why? Because that's when Amazon began clearing out price-inflated items that attemtped to list themselves as expensive alternatives to the first-party Switch.
And when they began listing their Switches under different names at even higher prices than before.
The "Nintendo Switch [Gray]", for instance, is now selling for as much as $669 — more than twice the console's retail price. Meanwhile, the "Nintendo Switch [Neon Blue/Red]" sold for as much as $899 in early May. As of this week, it can be had for $650, or 2.17x the retail price.
So while removing third-party sellers attempting to price gouge on the first-party Switch listing may have scattered the price gougers throughout Amazon Marketplace, they're still around, and their overpriced consoles are still coming up in consumers' search results.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.
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