Can Amazon weed out marketplace fraudsters via video chat?
Amazon.com was moving to address the perennial problem of fraud on its third-party marketplace when the coronavirus pandemic erupted. Now, it’s implementing a solution it hopes will help significantly cut down on bootleg sellers while remaining consistent with guidelines for social distancing.
Early this year, Amazon introduced a program that involved in-person verification of third-party marketplace sellers, according to TheStreet. Due to the need to reduce person-to-person contact due to the pandemic, however, the e-tailing titan quickly shifted to verifying seller identities with video calls. To carry out the verification process, a trained Amazon representative makes the call via the Chime videoconferencing app and checks the ID of the third-party seller to make sure it matches the person’s application. The system does not use facial recognition technology. Representatives have thus far used the system to verify more than 1,000 prospective sellers.
Amazon has repeatedly come under fire for its perceived failure to take adequate steps to stop the sale of counterfeit products through its marketplace. In early March, a bipartisan bill was introduced to the House of Representatives to make the operators of all online marketplaces responsible for the sale of counterfeit goods through their platforms. Were it to become law, it would mandate that those retailers, among other things, vet sellers.
The coronavirus pandemic itself has brought a wave of fraud to the Amazon Marketplace that the e-tailer had to tangle with.
Amazon removed one million products from its Marketplace touting misleading or unproven claims pertaining to coronavirus at the onset of the outbreak, according to ABC News. That was in addition to 10,000 products removed due to price gouging.
The pandemic has necessitated other changes impacting the functioning of the Amazon Marketplace as well, at least in the short term.
In mid-March, Amazon stopped accepting products from third-party sellers in its warehouses to be stored for its popular Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) program, according to CNBC. Amazon made the move in order to prioritize the shipment of essential products, such as household staples and medical supplies, which experienced a spike in orders. The e-tailer began to relax the rule in mid-April.
- Amazon Tests Video Calls to Verify Third-Party Sellers and Reduce Fraud – The Street
- Should Amazon pay a penalty for counterfeits sold in its marketplace? – RetailWire
- Amazon allows sellers to start shipping nonessential items again – CNBC
- Amazon removes 1 million products for misleading claims, price gouging amid coronavirus outbreak – ABC News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will video calls be an effective way for Amazon to vet third-party sellers? Are Amazon and other marketplaces doing enough, especially during the pandemic, to safeguard shoppers from fraudsters?