It was revealed last week at the Prosper Show in Las Vegas that Amazon sellers are being invited to join an Online Merchants Guild with the aim of providing a collective voice for Amazon merchants. The spur for the initiative is the threat of an online sales tax in the USA which has spooked many online retailers. As it stands, opposing an online sales tax will be the first priority for the new organisation. It’s reported that just about 100 businesses have expressed an interest in joining the Guild.

The brains behind the guild are Chris McCabe, who is a former Amazon employee and runs the consulting firm Ecommercechris.com and Paul Rafelson, a Pace University law professor. At the moment it appears to have a purely US focus.

The Online Merchants Guild is an organization run by online merchants like you. Our primary purpose is to advocate for what’s in the best interest of all of our members, and to represent our members when our community faces challenges that significantly impact their business. Today, we find that our biggest challenges in 2018 are sales tax, intellectual property and trade policy. Tomorrow, the challenges we face might be completely different.

– Online Merchants Guild website

Fees for membership vary and are dependent on the volume of online sales you make, with the lowest tier costing $100 for businesses selling up to $100k per year. But bigger businesses will be required to pay more. You can find the costs on the Online Merchants Guild website.

There have been attempts to establish similar organisations in the past for online merchants but they have tended to have narrow user bases. Two key challenge face such endeavours. Firstly, such a diverse group of retailers have variable needs and establishing priorities is difficult. They also require that marketplaces recognise the organisation as a legitimate lobbying organisation and that’s not easy.