Amazon confirmed on Monday that it’s investigating internal leaks of confidential information by some of its employees in exchange for bribes. The company is trying to fight off seller scams on its platform including fake reviews. The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon employees were giving classified information and other crucial data through intermediaries to independent sellers on the platform. This information according to the Journal was given to help these merchants improve their sales and on return, they would offer payments to employees who could help.
This practice is a violation of Amazon’s policy. The Wall Street Journal added that the practice was more predominant in China where the number of independent Amazon sellers has been on the rise over the last few years. Amazon said through a spokesman that the matter is a very serious violation of its policy and that any employee found guilty will be terminated immediately with the possibility of legal and criminal penalties to follow too. The WSJ report notes that Amazon employees are getting between $80 and $2,000 to help banned sellers restore their accounts, access buyer emails, as well as services to delete negative reviews on the platform. There have been cases of such payments in the US too which Amazon is looking into.
Selling on Amazon as an independent seller is very lucrative. Amazon is the biggest e-commerce platform in the world with access to major global markets. Amazon’s revenue generated by selling things online runs in the hundreds of billions of dollars. It seems that many sellers are looking for an opportunity to try to get an edge in this online platform.
Besides, reviews are very important in the digital economy. Unlike in physical stores where you can test, touch, or feel a product, on the Internet you can only see it on a screen. Therefore, you have to rely on the experiences of other people who have used the product just to be sure what you are getting into. Amazon user reviews are meant to be genuine and in fact, the company has put in place very stringent measures to make sure of this. It would be very difficult for an outsider to spam the system or even try to run any other seller scam on the platform without the help of an insider.
If the allegations raised by the WSJ are true, this will be a massive hit on the credibility of Amazon reviews. Right now the extent of the problem is still not known. The WSJ report noted that so far China has been the most affected but there could be many cases in other parts of the world too. The Amazon spokesperson didn’t indicate how long the probe will take or whether there were any significant leads. But this is an issue that the e-commerce giant will need to fix fast, especially now that online shopping through platforms like Amazon has become the norm of everyday life. In addition to this, credibility in e-commerce is everything. Amazon must make sure that the millions of consumers who buy from its platform can trust the independent sellers offering their products.