Updated: Aug 21, 2021
During the first half of the year, e-commerce giant Amazon banned 340 Chinese online stores from the platform in an effort to punish sellers who carried out review abuse and other violations. In May 2021, Amazon began prohibiting the operations of companies guilty of committing review abuse by paying users or giving them free products.
A month later, brands belonging to Shenzhen-based electronics vendor Sunvalley were prevented from conducting business on Amazon. As a result, RAVPower power banks, Taotronics earphones and VAVA cameras can no longer be sold on the site as these stores have been providing customers with gift cards to incentivise them to share positive reviews about their products.
Weeks before this happened, Amazon blocked the listings of technology merchants Aukey and Mpow. In a statement released on 16 June 2021, the company mentioned that it has closely observed and addressed suspicious seller activity on the platform.
“To help earn the trust of customers, we devote significant resources to preventing fake or incentivized reviews from appearing in our store,” wrote Amazon.
Ever since 2016, Amazon has pushed against “incentivized reviews”, enforcing policies that prohibit merchants from asking a family member or an employee to publish reviews biased towards their store. Apart from other violations, sellers are forbidden from offering monetary rewards for removing or editing negative reviews. Using third-party services to provide free or discounted products to reviewers is similarly prohibited.
Last year, Amazon said that it prevented over 200 million potentially fake reviews from being shown to customers. 99 per cent of these fraudulent assessments have been discovered by the company’s detection systems.
Credit: Sean Hollister / The Verge
Despite Amazon’s efforts, the banned brand Aukey is still operating on the digital marketplace. The Verge reported that Aukey’s Key Series earphones were still listed on Amazon.
Aside from incentivised reviews, the selling of fake goods also plagues online shopping sites. In May 2021, Thai authorities raided a Panasonic counterfeit ring and retrieved more than 82,000 fake Panasonic batteries that the organisation intended to sell on Lazada. The raid became the largest seizure of inauthentic goods in Southeast Asia.
Months of collaborative discussion among Panasonic’s brand team, Lazada’s intellectual property rights protection team and Thai police forces led up to the crackdown.
Amid the pandemic, an increasing amount of scammers took to the internet to play out their schemes. In an effort to keep its users safe, Shopee informed consumers of 12 scams that they should look out for.
Specifically, it advised users to look out for enquiries about bank account information from unknown phone contacts that impersonate the e-commerce site.
Sponsored posts and unofficial channels that pass themselves off as Shopee associates are also other methods through which customers are scammed. The company also warned users to avoid falling for fraud concerning direct payments, refunds for overpaid orders, direct bank transfers and sensitive customer information.
Scams involving phishing websites, pop-up ads, parcels, communication from people pretending to work at the seller centre and private social media messages from so-called Shopee representatives were also addressed in the announcement.
Written by Sophia Lopez