In brief: Amazon continues its crackdown on fake reviews as it shuts down thousands of merchants that sell hundreds of electronic brands. Although most of the offending sellers are based in China, Amazon says it is not targeting Chinese retailers.
Amazon has so far shut down 3,000 online merchants linked to 600 Chinese electronics brands sold on its online sales platform as part of its ongoing campaign against paid feedback and similar activities. Although Amazon officially banned "incentivized reviews" in 2016, its current crusade against such practices—beginning with the high-profile booting of familiar names like Aukey and RAVpower from their platform earlier this year—is more expansive than anything done prior.
In an interview on Chinese Central TV, Cindy Tai—Amazon's vice-president for Asia Global selling—also stated that the crackdown was not intentionally targeted towards China or any other country or the overall growth of Chinese online merchants selling via Amazon. However, the South China Morning Post had previously reported that the industry had been grievously affected to the tune of $15.4 billion, between lost sales, blocked funds, and withheld inventory.
"Customers rely on the accuracy and authenticity of product reviews to make informed purchasing decisions, and we have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features," Amazon stated, adding that the company "will continue to improve abuse detection and take enforcement action against bad actors, including those that knowingly engage in multiple and repeated policy violations, including review abuse."
While it may be unfortunate for consumers looking for cheap-and-cheerful battery banks, Bluetooth speakers, and the like, the scale and reach of Amazon's marketplace means that any attempt to manipulate product rankings and review scores is undoubtedly a big deal. However, the reverse could also be said of the matter, as many of these brands and merchants were competing against Amazon's value-oriented Basics line, and their removal is likely to help funnel consumers towards own-brand alternatives.