Cole South

Cole South



ever wonder why the cheap junk flooding Amazon has keyboard-mashing brand names like MOFFBUZW? let's dive into an example... the 2nd organic result for "baby moccasins" has: - 0 reviews - no Prime offer - 20 day shipping (lol) - a brand name that literally looks like Dog Shit

the seller behind this offer has a lifetime negative feedback rate of 20%. small sample size, but that is MASSIVE (ours is 0%). legit sellers are routinely suspended for a bad run of several negative feedback in a row. yet bad actors run rampant.

want to get in touch with DOTTAVR? did your kid get hurt or sick from something you bought from them? well, they're on Amazon... surely they are a legit company and Amazon is covering their bases... good luck!

here's a great example of why this is important... someone bought a retractable dog leash from a Chinese seller. they hit the "retract" button on the leash and it whiplashed toward their face at Mach 5 💨 it rendered them permanently blind in one eye.

what's the root cause of all of this? Amazon courting overseas manufacturers and sellers at all costs. this has had a terrible impact on customer safety, and is turning their marketplace turning into a flea market of total junk.

as an American e-commerce store owner, if we lose our Amazon seller account it will be a huge issue for our business. we're also liable for the products we sell. this gives us a big incentive to play within Amazon's rules, and to make sure the products we are selling are safe.

black-hat international sellers on the other hand (let's face it, China is 90%+ of the issue here) hide behind shell businesses and fake names. if they get popped for writing fake reviews or selling a product that kills someone, they just show up next week under a new account.

buying/selling/trading Amazon accounts is big business in China. it almost feels like the all-caps gibberish names are a troll from these sellers about how easy it is to spin up fake accounts. page 1 for "spatula" has a row of offers from BANKKY, DESLON, ORIGRACE, and TACGEA 😆

are 100% of Chinese sellers at fault here? absolutely not. there are plenty of legit, hardworking Chinese entrepreneurs that care about the (mostly American) customers they serve and play fair. but Amazon has been letting the blackhat ones wreak complete havoc for years.

Amazon is halfheartedly playing whack-a-mole with the occasional wave of suspensions. but anyone who has sold much on Amazon knows these are the tip of the iceberg. here are 5 of the devilishly genius ways black-hat sellers cheat on Amazon...

1. BRIBE AMAZON EMPLOYEES FOR INTERNAL DATA 💰 want all of your competitor's advertising reports, to find their most profitable keywords? need a customer's email address so you can hound them about a negative review they left? for a few hundred bucks, this info is easy to get.

2. ZOMBIE REVIEWS FROM OLD LISTINGS 🧟‍♂️ let's say you're selling a brand new spatula in 2 colors: black and red. you have zero reviews... and that's a problem for sales! well, all you need to do is find an old discontinued iPhone case with 1000's of reviews.

it took me 2 minutes to find a perfect candidate just by Googling: "amazon iphone We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock"

now create a case with amazon support / bribe an employee / DIY in Amazon's backend to: let them know that actually 😉 this iPhone case is the green version of your new spatula! it (and its 6,078 reviews) should be included on your listing. very common, instant social proof.

3. TRIGGER WORDS 🤫 get (or ask someone with) an Amazon Vendor account to sneak fun words into the invisible backend of a listing like: "cures cancer" "pesticides" instant suspension 👏🏻 bonus points for doing it on an international listing, making it super hard to track down!

4. WISHLIST BOTTING 🧞‍♂️ amazon roughly ranks products by keyword, in order of sales velocity. you can buy your way to the top (temporarily at least) by generating a ton of orders - legitimately or fraudulently. that's expensive though!

well, clever sellers figured out that adding an item to a user's Amazon Wishlist has a similar effect and doesn't cost a thing. just hire a bunch of bots on different VPNs, or professional wishlisters in Bangladesh, to move your brand new product to the top of search results.

5. "UPDATE" YOUR COMPETITOR'S IMAGES 🍆 simple, effective, and hilarious for all. best executed on Prime Day or Black Friday.

marketplace antics are one thing, but product safety is serious business. we spend a ton of money on safety testing, compliance, taxes, and insurance to make sure we're offering products that are safe for customers.

black-hat sellers are cutting scary corners on safety. product testing is sporadically enforced by Amazon. submitting fake or questionable documentation is no problem if you're using a burner account. there are "ungating" services to help you sell into restricted categories.

the bottom line is that most amazon sellers - who know how the sausage is made - wouldn't dare trust an unknown brand's random kitchen or baby product in their house. i'm always shocked how little attention this gets by the media.

how can you protect yourself as a consumer? i think about my amazon purchases in 2 categories. 1. i just need some commodity cheap and fast, and am not too worried about safety or authenticity. ok MKFFUDU, you have earned my business 🤝

2. safety/quality is a concern. some pointers: - buy from legit brands, make sure the seller matches the brand name (or is Amazon themselves). what's legit? you know it when you see it. if the name is PLMMBON and the address is "asdfasdfasdf, Shenzhen" you are rolling the dice.

- place more weight into number of reviews than star rating. if a product has a ton of reviews, it has at least (most likely) moved a lot of units without killing someone or being removed for excessive customer complaints.

- sort reviews by "Most Recent" to see what recent customers think of the product. older reviews are less relevant and can be from totally unrelated products that were merged onto the listing. even that isn't foolproof. anyone can sell anything on Amazon.

our good friends DOTTAVR can list a "totally 100% authentic" @simplemodern water bottle. until Amazon shuts them down it will be sold alongside @mikebeckhamsm & @jBryanPorter's legit, safe inventory. in the meantime hopefully no buyers are slowly poisoned by a heavy metal leak.

despite all of this, i still mostly love Amazon as a customer. it played a big role in getting my e-commerce business off of the ground and i'm grateful for that. but it's sad to see where their marketplaces is headed, and how little they seem to care.

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