Made in China, Sold on Amazon: Manipulating Reviews (Part 2)

Made in China, Sold on Amazon: 

Solutions for US Sellers Facing New Competitors

 

Made In China, Sold On Amazon, is a series of blogs written about Chinese sellers on Amazon and the effects any kind of fraudulent reviews may have on Amazon sellers in the US. This is a 3 part series that will cover how to identify illegitimate sellers, how those sellers manipulate the reviews, and varying intellectual property issues. Our blogs will bring to light the problems that sellers face. Our experts at aiCommerce will share solutions to combat any kind of dishonest sellers.

 

Part 2: Manipulating Reviews for Amazon Sellers

 

Zach Franklin of AMZKungfu is originally from Detroit but now lives in Shenzhen, China, and is an avid non-Chinese Amazon consultant for Chinese sellers. He explained to me that in his experience at least 50% of sellers in China are using some form of review strategy against Amazon’s Terms of Service. As Zach described to me, “To many Chinese Amazon sellers, the question of how to succeed on Amazon has a simple answer: reviews equal sales”. – ECOMCREW

 

In Part 1 of our blog series “ Made In China, Sold On Amazon,” our experts explained how consumer reviews affect your product rating. Consumer reviews intend to provide a viewpoint on the worth of a product sold on the marketplace. If a buyer is not familiar with your product, they will read the reviews to make an educated decision on purchasing that product. Amazon is aware of this consumer behavior regarding unknown products. The goal, naturally, is a conversion or sale. 

Good consumer reviews earn the seller a good rating. A product with a good rating is more likely to get a prime spot on a search because they know it has a greater chance of a conversion. This system also allows unethical sellers to manipulate reviews to make their products look better to the consumer. Some Amazon sellers have successfully altered the reviews and have gotten their products front and center in the buyer’s eyes. 

 

 

How do Sellers Manipulate the Reviews When They Sell on Amazon?

 

Most Amazon sellers know that excellent consumer reviews earn positive ratings, which position their product toward the top of the search. All of these steps work together to increase sales. Unscrupulous sellers use questionable tactics to get positive reviews on Amazon. One way is to set up phony business accounts, purchase their own products from Amazon, and then write glowing reviews. This tactic is employed by many, but it certainly takes center stage on Amazon. 

Many people typically use two different black hat tactics to generate reviews. One method is to compensate or reimburse customers for leaving a five-star review. A twist on this is having customers create fake Amazon accounts to order the products and then leave a positive review. Unfortunately, many Chinese sellers used this tactic for several years, particularly in 2019 and 2020. The fake reviews typically cost about $3 to $5 per review. Certain Chinese sellers have thousands of phony Amazon accounts, which they use to leave these reviews to prevent Amazon from tracking their unethical behavior. Amazon’s sophisticated algorithm is very good at finding manipulated reviews, but some experts are always one step ahead of Amazon. 

 

Although Amazon banned this next tactic in 2016, the other way that Amazon sellers manipulate product reviews is using rebate companies that offer up to 100% of the purchase price for a review.    

 

These tactics are blatantly against Amazon’s Terms of Service, which every seller is required to sign before setting up their Amazon account. Amazon has tried to put a stop to this fraud. It takes time to follow up on every new business account when adding over 2,000 sellers per day. There are an average of 197,000 buyers visiting the site monthly. In 2021, Amazon identified hundreds of sellers based in China that were discovered to be in violation, and they were suspended from the site. 

Hundreds of users have been caught creating fake accounts to purchase products from themselves. Safety Detectives Fake Reviews Scam revealed that 13 million records were leaked from an unprotected server. 200,000-250,000 Chinese consumers were involved in a reviews scam. The report was complete with names, addresses, the company selling the product, the item to purchase, and the steps to follow. Once they had purchased the item and completed their review, the company would give them payment to their PayPal account. 

 

Amazon has suspended hundreds of top Chinese sellers over the past two months. The company seems to be just now enforcing its rules for blatant policy violations like manipulating customer reviews. Tactics that some of those sellers have used for years.

 

A few of the suspended sellers have already announced layoffs and even bankruptcies. These results will inevitably cause many others (and sellers outside of China) to reassess their Amazon strategy. Some of the Amazon seller aggregators have recently started evaluating and acquiring sellers in China; they too are revising their due diligence processes. – Source: Marketplace Pulse

 

The banned Amazon sellers are now trying to move their products and reviews to Walmart. They seemingly hope to use their review manipulation tactics in a new marketplace, as they are being uncovered on Amazon. It is tough to find a Chinese seller on Amazon who doesn’t have many reviews. If you know how to find a Chinese seller on Amazon, which we explained in our previous blog, we advise you to explore Amazon and see for yourself. 

 

How to Sell on Amazon.

 

These commonly employed tactics make it difficult for other sellers to break in or compete against them when selling on Amazon. A seller with excellent reviews and a lower price point makes it challenging for others to compete. One way to combat this matter is Branding Your Business off of Amazon to gain the consumer’s trust. Using social media can help build your brand and encourage the confidence that a consumer needs to buy your product. As long as reviews can be manipulated on Amazon, US businesses must think of alternatives to build consumers’ trust. One of the best ways to increase Amazon sales is to promote your business on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media outlets. Contact the experts at aiCommerce to get started moving your business forward faster.

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