Looking to shake off its reputation for being lax on counterfeiters and those flooding the site with fake or incentivized reviews, Amazon has taken step that could be its most stringent. The e-commerce giant has booted 600 China-based brands across 3,000 different seller accounts over the past five months for knowingly and repeatedly violating its policies around significant review abuse.
The numbers were first revealed by Cindy Tai, Amazon’s vice president for Asia Global Selling, in an interview with state-owned broadcaster China Central Television. Tai said that the campaign is not intended to target China or any other country. She also indicated that the closures did not negatively impact the overall growth of Chinese online merchants on Amazon.
The South China Morning Post first reported on the interview, and Amazon later confirmed the news to The Verge.
“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. We suspend, ban and take legal action against those who violate these policies, wherever they are in the world,” an Amazon spokesperson told Sourcing Journal. “We 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.”
A June Wall Street Journal report brought attention to the concerns. After buying an iPhone charger on Amazon, personal tech columnist Nicole Nguyen found that the box included a $35 gift card from the product’s brand manufacturer, RAVPower. This card could be redeemed in exchange for a product review—all despite Amazon banning sellers from offering a financial reward for reviews in 2016.
RAVPower, a battery and charger brand based out of China, uncovered a workaround where shoppers could send them an email of screenshots of their order ID and review URL, therefore circumventing Amazon’s process of detecting and reporting reviews. Days after the report caught traction, the charger Nguyen bought appeared to have been taken down from Amazon. The charger had a five-star average rating with over 9,800 ratings, she said.
Amazon later confirmed to The Verge it kicked RAVPower off the site.
The e-commerce giant was defiant in the wake of the WSJ report, releasing a blog post in the week after passing the buck to social media companies for not investing to proactively detect fake reviews. Across its own platform, Amazon said it stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 before they were ever seen by a customer.
Amazon’s actions have become more noticeable in recent months as it goes after larger names. In early July, the parent company of Shenzhen Youkeshu Technology, more commonly known as YKS, reported that Amazon had closed 340 of its online stores and frozen more than $20 million worth of its assets, according to the South China Morning Post.
Asos, Selfridges among 86 new Climate Pledge signatories
On a more positive front, Amazon revealed that The Climate Pledge it created with environmental group Global Optimism now has more than 200 signatories. The 86 new members joining the group, which was designed so organizations can commit to achieve net-zero carbon by 2040, include fashion retailers Asos, Holt Renfrew, Selfridges and Brown Thomas Arnotts, and consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.
“I believe that now, more than ever, companies like Amazon have an obligation to lead the fight for our planet,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said in a statement. “But, solving this challenge cannot be accomplished by one company; it requires all of us to act together, and it’s one of the reasons we’re so excited to announce that more than 200 businesses have joined us in signing The Climate Pledge—a commitment to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years early.”
Pledge signatories in total generate over $1.8 trillion in global annual revenues and have more than 7 million employees across 26 industries in 21 countries.
By going net-zero 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement, current Climate Pledge signatories are expected to collectively mitigate 1.98 billion metric tons (BMT) of carbon emissions from a 2020 baseline. This is equivalent to 5.4 percent of current global annual emissions.
As part of their commitment, signatories must measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis, and implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement through efficiency improvements, renewable energy, materials reductions and other carbon emission elimination strategies.
Asos already announced that as part of its Carbon 2020 strategy, it has reduced its emissions every year since 2015 and cut emissions intensity by 30 percent in this time—the equivalent of avoiding 110,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time,” Asos CEO Nick Beighton said in a statement. “Businesses must take bold and decisive action to find solutions to the unfolding crisis, both individually and collectively, which is why ASOS is proud to stand with Amazon, Global Optimism, and the other signatories of The Climate Pledge, and to be joining the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign as a result. Doing so reinforces our commitment to sustainability and means we’re joining a community that will share knowledge, ideas, and best practice to achieve this important mission.”
Procter & Gamble recently announced an ambition to reach net-zero emissions across its operations, transportation, and supply chain, from raw material to retailer, by 2040. Since 2010, the conglomerate, which owns brands like Tide, Charmin and Gillette, has reduced its absolute emissions across global operations by 52 percent. The company has also increased its purchase of renewable electricity by 97 percent.