Amazon Weekly News: February 13, 2018

Time for the weekly recap of Amazon news! It's always good to keep up with events related to the fast-moving world of the Amazon ecosystem. I select the most important news updates to share with subscribers each week, which you can sign up to receive right here.
 

The latest scam to get Amazon product reviews emerges

The latest way that unruly sellers are scamming Amazon’s reviews system? Sending large volumes of products to unwitting Amazon customers using gift cards. 

The story of a Boston couple who started receiving random products that they didn’t order first broke last week. It outlines a current loophole in the system whereby products can be ordered using Amazon gift cards and shipped to a real address, at which point the person or company who placed the order can log into the Amazon account that they placed the gift card order form, and write a “Verified” review. 

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What do brands selling on Amazon need to know? Again, the system is being gamed by some bad actors. In late 2016, Amazon banned the common practice of “incentivized reviews” whereby brands would give away bundles of products for free to consumers in exchange for a review. This eroded trust in the system and the media picked up the practice. Amazon responded with a policy change. I can’t imagine that Amazon is not yet aware of this practice after the heavy coverage last week, so expect this loophole to close soon and for Amazon to remove all the offending reviews like they did in 2016. Read the entire story here.

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Yet another new shipping program launch: Shipping with Amazon

Last week I wrote about two new logistics programs that Amazon was rolling out to sellers: FBA Onsite and Supply Chain Connect.  

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported another new program. Shipping With Amazon is a delivery service for businesses where Amazon will pick up items from businesses and use its burgeoning logistics network for delivery. This service is positioned to compete directly with UPS and FedEx. 

What does this mean for brands selling on Amazon? Amazon is investing heavily in logistics and fulfillment. They want a bigger piece of the shipping pie, or at least to not have to rely so much on the incumbent parties. A positive effect of this will be more competition, more choices, and lower prices on shipping.

 

Amazon to expand in Brazil

Amazon is looking to lease a 50,000-square-meter warehouse near Sao Paulo, Brazil. Until now, Amazon has only sold books and electronics in Brazil. The addition of a fulfillment center would allow Amazon to also fulfill and ship those orders, if not expand the selection on Amazon.com.br. 

Brazil is Latin America's biggest retail market. It is estimated that two-thirds of Brazil's 209 million people have internet access, and e-commerce has pretty strong adoption already. E-commerce accounts for around 5% of the Brazil retail market, whereas the US is around 9%. Mercado Libre is the dominant marketplace in Brazil and Latin America.

 

Amazon’s Transparency program out of Beta?

In August last year, we reported on a new anti-counterfeiting program from Amazon which was in the pilot phase: Transparency.  

The program attempts to solve counterfeit product and unauthorized seller issues through the roll-out of unique 26-digit codes that are scanned at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. The eventual goal is that any item manufactured by an enrolled brand which has inventory arriving without the required barcode will be considered counterfeit. 

Last week, an Amazon seller was reported as having been invited to the program but only after she suffered terribly from unauthorized 3rd party sellers who continually won the buy box. More nefarious factors also seemed to be at play including her Trademarked brand name being stolen and unavailable for use. This seller was invited to enroll in the pilot program after she removed all inventory from Amazon’s systems and attempted to close down her account. 

Does this mean that Transparency will definitely be rolled out? It’s unclear whether this is a move out of the pilot phase, or just an attempt to have more sellers enroll in the program for testing purposes. Also, given Amazon’s recent moves to facilitate orders being shipped out directly from merchants’ facilities (refer to the recently announced FBA Onsite program), it’s unclear how Amazon could police the inventory that isn’t handled by its fulfillment network. 

Still, any relief that Amazon can bring to brands suffering from chronic activity by unauthorized sellers is welcomed. Various lawsuits brought to Amazon have concluded that as a marketplace, Amazon isn't liable for infringement on behalf of third-party sellers.

 

How much to spend on Amazon PPC in 2018

This is the topic of the latest article on our blog. Stefan Jordev, a PPC Manager at Bobsled Marketing, outlines his approaches to determining how much to spend and measuring the effectiveness of Amazon advertising campaigns. If you want to read the entire article - click here.
 

This is all the news I have to share with you this week. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you receive my news recap next week!