As e-commerce giant Amazon has doubled down on efforts against fake reviews, the move has raised questions over the future of Chinese merchants on the platform, as the company recently blocked several prominent vendors for alleged “suspicious behaviour”.
From the earlier days of this month, product listings from some of the biggest Chinese electronic gadget sellers have vanished from Amazon’s online marketplace, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).
“Recently, after a thorough investigation, we suspended a few well-known selling accounts because we found they were violating our clear and long-standing policy prohibiting reviews abuse,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice-president of worldwide customer trust and partner support at Amazon last week.
Amazon has a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards violations, including asking a friend to leave a review and its latest action has garnered wide public attention in China because of the vendors involved.
“Amazon shuts down thousands of stores every single day for manipulation of the review system. The reason it’s so notable this time is because the stores that they shut down are so big,” said Zack Franklin, a Shenzhen-based Amazon consultant for merchants.
One of those affected by Amazon’s electronics vendor Aukey, which generated more than three-quarters of its revenue from Amazon in the first quarter of 2018 and 2019, according to a prospectus it filed in 2019.
Mpow, the main Amazon electronics store run by ByteDance and Xiaomi-backed consumer product firm Patozon, was also affected by the crackdown. It had recorded 2 billion yuan from exports in the first half of 2020, SCMP reported citing a financial statement.
“The main reason Amazon specifically targeted the biggest Chinese accounts is to send a very strong signal to sellers. If you are breaking the rules, we will shut you down,” Franklin said.
In recent years, a growing number of Chinese merchants have turned to large international e-commerce platforms, including eBay and Amazon, to reach consumers beyond their home market.
Franklin said that since there were more Chinese sellers on the e-commerce platform and they were used to Taobao and JD where it is easy to fake reviews on these platforms, SCMP reported.
Despite Amazon’s fake review crackdown, there are some small vendors who choose to continue with the practice to stay competitive.
“I admit that I pay for some reviews, but that’s because my competitors are doing the same. I have to do it, too,” one seller posted in a discussion thread of an online merchant community about Amazon’s fake review crackdown.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)