Walgreens backs new online seller transparency bill

David Salazar
Managing Editor
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A new bill introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., focused on improving transparency around third-party sellers online is getting the backing of Walgreens. Walgreens Boots Alliance co-COO Alex Gourlay on Tuesday backed the bill, called the Integrity Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act, which would mandate online retail marketplaces whose third-party vendors sell consumer products to authenticate the identity of high-volume sellers. 

“The lack of transparency and accountability in today’s digital marketplaces has contributed to the rapid rise of organized retail crime, which has become one of the top challenges facing the retail industry today,” Gourlay said. “Walgreens strongly supports Senators Bill Cassidy and Dick Durbin’s INFORM Consumers Act, which would require online marketplaces to verify high-volume sellers, remove incentives for retail theft and help make our communities much safer. Americans deserve to know who they are buying products from in order to make safe and informed purchasing decisions for themselves and their families.”

The bill’s authors said that the law is aimed at equalizing transparency among brick-and-mortar retailers while preventing organized retail crime rings from stealing items from stores in order to resell them online in bulk. The Act would verify third-party sellers by acquiring their government ID, tax ID, bank account information and contact information. The bill defines “high-volume third-party sellers” as any vendors with 200 or more separate sales in a 12-month period whose sales amount to $5,000 or more. 

According to a 2019 survey by the National Retail Federation, retailers reported average losses of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales over the course of a 12-month period. 

Also backing the bill is Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty and chair of the Retail Industry Leaders Association. 

“The ease with which organized criminal networks can utilize the anonymity of online marketplaces to fence stolen goods has led to a proliferation of organized theft targeting local retailers,” Dillon said. “Most disturbing, are the threats and physical acts of violence our employees and customers experience when confronted with this criminal activity.  Reversing this trend is about much more than protecting goods and property—this is about protecting people throughout the country who are increasingly at risk when these crimes are committed.  Reducing these threats starts with making it harder to sell stolen goods online, and the INFORM Act is a great first step in the right direction.”