As America’s largest peddler of things online, Amazon is no stranger to controversy. It has had to deal with incentivized reviews, fake reviews, paid five-star reviews, and even problems with fake products.
For the first time, it’s now taking real action to tackle that last problem. According to Bloomberg, Amazon is building out teams in the US and Europe to tackle fake product listings, all with the aim of making Amazon as reliable and consistent as any bricks-and-mortar retailer.
Amazon’s plan is to create a central registry of known products. Verified brands can register their products with Amazon — even if they don’t sell the products on Amazon — and the retailer will use that registry to verify products as real or fake on its site:
“Once registered, Amazon requires any marketplace merchants listing those products to prove that they have the brand’s permission to sell them online. Amazon began experimenting with the registry earlier this year with Nike and other companies. The bigger push in 2017 will target thousands of large companies, including those that have been reluctant to sell on Amazon because of knock-offs.”
The registry helps solve Amazon’s long-standing problem of introducing order to its site. Amazon pioneered the use of third-party sellers, who can use Amazon’s marketplace and logistics network to sell their own goods, allowing Amazon to have a massive selection of items without having to research, buy and stock products itself.
But obviously, creating that network has created all sorts of potential for abuse and fraud. A good sold through Amazon is viewed as being more trustworthy than coming from eBay or Craigslist, for example, but in many cases there’s only scant protection in place for quality control and seller verification.