Amazon is taking aggressive action to counter seller scams occurring on its marketplace, The Wall Street Journal reports. This includes deleting thousands of suspect reviews, firing employees suspected of supplying merchants with inside information, and restricting employee access to customer data on its website.
The e-tailer is trying to counter several methods that sellers are using to sabotage their competitors:
- Leaving false reviews. This can take a few forms, including inflating one’s own products with positive reviews from fake accounts, leaving a lot of negative reviews on competing listings, or even leaving gushingly positive reviews that appear suspect to shoppers on competitors’ products. Amazon is working to counter this process by deleting thousands of reviews. Although this can help minimize suspicious reviews, some legitimate ones are also being removed, sellers and a person familiar with the matter told The WSJ.
- Purchasing Amazon sales data from corrupt employees. In exchange for bribes, some Amazon employees, particularly in China and India, have been selling data to merchants through intermediaries, giving those sellers a competitive edge. To constrain this practice, Amazon has been limiting employees’ ability to look at private company information, such as trending keywords or the performance of specific products. Some employees in India are also no longer able to use USB ports to download these types of data.
- Buying wholesaler accounts and misusing privileges. Wholesaler accounts can edit listings for their products that are being sold by other merchants, allowing them to ensure that their items are being correctly represented. However, some sellers buy these accounts on the black market and use this ability to alter competitors’ product pages with unrelated pictures in order to hurt their sales. Some Chinese firms are selling these wholesaler accounts for around $15,000 or renting out access for approximately $1,500 per month. Amazon’s strategy for dealing with these rogue wholesaler accounts is likely to monitor them for suspicious activity and then terminate them.
If Amazon is unable to quell this malicious activity, it runs the risk of alienating its legitimate sellers, which may start selling more with other platforms.Amazon is very important to its third-party sellers, with 60% saying they make at least 61% of their e-commerce revenue from sales on Amazon.com.
However, if they're constantly getting attacked by fraudulent actors, they may actively look to expand their sales with other e-commerce platforms. Thirty-six percent of vendors already planned to expand to Walmart in 2018, while 27% planned to start selling on eBay, and many more may follow if they feel they'll be safer on those marketplaces.