Amazon.com said on Friday that it has closed about 3,000 online merchant accounts, backed by about 600 Chinese brands, on its popular platform, as the world’s largest e-commerce company ratchets up its crackdown on consumer review abuses.
The company’s campaign is not intended to target China or any other country, according to Cindy Tai, Amazon’s vice-president for Asia Global Selling, in an interview with state-owned broadcaster China Central Television on Friday. She also indicated that the closures did not negatively impact the overall growth of Chinese online merchants on Amazon.
Tai’s interview marked the first time that a senior Amazon executive has responded to recent actions against merchants belonging to the “made in China, sold on Amazon” community, which have borne the brunt of the platform’s recent crackdown against paid reviews and other violations.
While questionable practices like paying for positive reviews often go unchecked on Chinese e-commerce platforms, Amazon kicked off an extensive clean-up campaign in May that targeted such activities. This crackdown has affected tens of thousands of Chinese merchants, according to a report in July by the trade group Shenzhen Cross-Border E-commerce Association.
Amazon, however, has remained steadfast on its campaign to punish product review abuses as a way to protect consumers’ rights.
Although the firm has officially banned “incentivised reviews” since 2016 and has regularly taken action against such violations, the scale of its recent crackdown appears unprecedented.
“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,” an Amazon spokesman said in an emailed statement. “We suspend, ban and take legal action against those who violate these policies, wherever they are in the world.”
He said Amazon “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”.
Amazon’s crackdown has hit some of the biggest Chinese brands on its platform, including Aukey, Mpow and Shenzhen Youkeshu Technology Co. Youkeshu said more than 130 million yuan (US$20 million) of its funds have been frozen by the US e-commerce giant.
The crackdown has prompted some Chinese merchants to start investing more on other international online retail platforms such as eBay and AliExpress, according to the Shenzhen Cross-Border E-Commerce Association. AliExpress, a global marketplace for overseas consumers to buy directly from manufacturers and distributors in China, is a major business under Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post.
Additional reporting by Jane ZhangInternet Explorer Channel Network