The below is an excerpt from the latest Amazon Weekly News Digest by Bobsled CEO & Forbes contributor Kiri Masters, a paywalled email delivered to subscribers every Friday.
Everyone is getting used to video calls these days - including Amazon! They are trialling a system to verify new sellers with video. This is currently just a trial.
But in my view, this is one relatively small hurdle that needs to be used in conjunction with other actions to remove bad actors from Amazon’s system.
Here are some others:
- Proof of physical address by sending direct mail with a code that needs to be verified within 30 days (like Google Places/ Maps verification). Each seller should have a unique address, address matches would be red flags since some sellers will be using mail forwarding services. Not a deal-breaker on its own but all accounts with matching addresses could be more closely investigated.
- Validate business phone number through an automated call
- Additional verification through a D-U-N-S number if its a business registered in the U.S.
- Do all this without telling the new seller that there will be requirements - catch bad actors who supply false information.
- Publish seller information publicly on the site. This is what happens in most all of Amazon’s marketplaces except for the US and AU. Doing so would put a little bit more public accountability on sellers and allow customers to do their own due diligence. Sunlight is a great disinfectant.
- Actually follow through with the requirement for product liability insurance. This is a requirement of all sellers, but I have never heard of Amazon actually calling for proof of it. The cost of Product liability insurance is not usually a substantial expense to a genuine retail business, but it’s certainly a barrier to entry for fly-by-night operators who are only out to make a quick buck.
All these things sound pretty straight-forward, right? Especially when Amazon spent $500MM in 2019 on removing anti-counterfeiting programs and removing ‘bad actors’. It begs the question, does Amazon actually want to fix this problem, or do the mountain of questionable sellers joining the marketplace every day actually present more opportunity to Amazon? Further reading: this WSJ article from 2019 talking about Amazon’s heavy recruitment of Chinese sellers.
What this means for brands
“[Video screening calls] sounds like something that will further help in stopping bad actors. But my guess
is that low-level Amazon support associates will be dealing with this which may result in honest people and businesses being rejected as well.”
- Bobsled Project Manager, Armin Alispahic
Want More Expert Amazon Insight From Kiri?
The above is just a small snippet of Kiri’s latest Amazon Weekly News Digest, which is delivered via email to subscribers every Friday.
For $20/month you’ll get a round up of the week’s biggest news and what it means for brands selling on Amazon. Also, as part of your subscription you’ll get access to our bi-weekly Office Hours where Kiri Masters and the Bobsled team conduct webinars, answer member questions and discuss Amazon best practices. To sign up, click the button below.
Tagged: Amazon Updates