Amazon suspends several big Chinese sellers in its biggest ever crackdown: Shoddy eCommerce and marketing tactics with paid reviews suspected

Amazon Chinese Sellers Accounts
Fraudulent marketing tricks could earn a suspension. Pic credit: www.quotecatalog.com/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Amazon has undertaken one of its biggest-ever crackdown on Chinese retailers selling on the platform. The eCommerce giant has suspended close to a dozen accounts belonging to some of the biggest Chinese brands.

There is panic among Chinese companies who aggressively push their merchandise on online retail websites. Amazon, one of the biggest players in the eCommerce and logistics segments, has reportedly started taking action against shoddy and unethical marketing tactics.

Amazon takes down 11 seller accounts including those belonging to Chinese brands Mpower and Aukey:

There is little doubt that Chinese brands, retailers, and distributors, are aggressively selling their products online. Outside China, these merchants hop on international eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Wish, Shopee, and Alibaba’s AliExpress.

Be it minimizing overheads, selling efficiently, or cutting out the middle-men, Chinese exporters are turning to e-commerce. However, this group of sellers is now concerned about Amazon’s actions.

Several top Chinese sellers have reportedly disappeared from Amazon over the past few days. According to TechCrunch, Amazon has suspended at least eleven accounts that originate from Greater China.

Quite a few of these accounts belong to the same parent company. Notable names among the accounts that have suddenly disappeared from Amazon include Mpower and Aukey.

The suspended accounts contribute over a billion dollars in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) to Amazon, claims Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of Marketplace Pulse.

Amazon hasn’t offered any specifics. Instead, the eCommerce giant offered a standard response about “protecting the store’s integrity”. Amazon did, however, indirectly imply that the suspensions could be due to fraudulent and unethical marketing practices.

Chinese sellers on eCommerce platforms infamous for shoddy marketing tactics?

Buyers often prefer Chinese sellers and their products owing to the attractive prices and tons of innovative features. However, some of the sellers indulge in questionable marketing practices to bolster their product’s standing amongst the rapidly growing competition.

Cameron Walker, who worked for an export trade show in China, claims, “It’s an open secret that a lot of Chinese sellers are aggressive towards marketing.”

One of the most common, unethical tricks is manipulating the reviews, which many buyers consider important while making a decision. Some companies either pay real customers to leave a glowing review or simply send fake orders and leave stellar reviews through zombie accounts.

Some Chinese companies may even be availing the services of agents who offer “product review” services. These agents have a number of resources to emulate real accounts.

They may include IP proxies, virtual credit cards, overseas addresses. Basically, anything and everything that can “game” the Amazon review auditing mechanism or fool the fraud detection algorithms.

Amazon has even warned customers not to follow any merchant’s recommendation of completing any purchase outside the platform. A few merchants have routinely attempted to lure Amazon’s customers to their own web stores.

The latest crackdown on Chinese sellers, however, could be the result of a data breach. SafetyDetectives, a cybersecurity firm, which dug up the information, discovered a ton of direct messages between Amazon sellers soliciting fake reviews from buyers.

Amazon assures its machine learning tools, and skilled investigators, analyze over 10 million review submissions weekly. Additionally, the platform claims it works with social media sites to report “bad actors who are cultivating abusive reviews outside our store.”

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