Here's the version that Amazon is touting.
In a press release on Thursday, the Seattle-based company said that it's gearing up for a "record-setting" season by making more products on the third-party marketplace available to Prime members and providing tools to help sellers ship items faster.
The marketplace of small businesses and entrepreneurs now accounts for half of all units sold. Amazon has rolled out tools to let those merchants submit deals, adjust pricing to meet market demand and promote items on the mobile app. Sellers include brand creators, private label owners and retailers of other people's products.
"We're dedicated to making the fulfillment technology that Amazon develops available to sellers," Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace, said in the release.
While that all may be true, many sellers describe an environment of chaos that's designed solely for the benefit of consumers.
Having the widest selection at the lowest prices with the fastest shipping leaves buyers with a diminishing reason to shop elsewhere and sellers increasingly reliant on Amazon. The site accounts for 38 percent of U.S. consumer e-commerce, according to Slice Intelligence.
Online sales is expected to jump 17 percent this holiday season, compared with 3.3 percent for all of retail, according to data from eMarketer. At $94.7 billion, e-commerce will represent 10.7 percent of the total, the highest ever.
For Fred Ruckel, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving have been punishing. Ruckel is the creator of the Ripple Rug, a cat activity mat. Sales of Ripple Rug, long a best seller in its niche category, have plunged 85 percent in the past two weeks since Amazon took over the listing page, altering the text and eliminating all but one of the photos.