• Craig Gedey

What are the most common dirty tricks on Amazon?

As Amazon continues to grow at a near relentless rate, so do the shady, or “black hat” tactics being used by unscrupulous Sellers on the site.

When some of these practises first began to emerge a number of them coincided with the rapid growth of Amazon in China, but they have since spread worldwide and can now be found across the globe.

So what are the most common strategies and how can you avoid falling victim to them? Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Craig Gedey assesses those he comes across most regularly.

Fake and manipulated reviews and review bombing

“Reviews are so important on Amazon that the practise of faking them has become big business for some,” Gedey explains. “That can range from compensating real customers for leaving reviews, to the purchase of outright fake ones. Amazon banned incentivising reviews way back in 2016, but there’s little doubt it still happens, along with fake reviews being available to buy. Companies have been set up specifically for this, running thousands of ‘zombie’ Amazon accounts whose sole purpose is to post fake reviews that can be sold. Although Amazon has improved significantly at detecting these companies, it has spawned another practise labelled ‘review bombing’, where a Seller buys fake reviews for a competitor in the hope that they will be spotted and them banned for alleged - but unfounded - review manipulation.”

Tip: How to boost Amazon reviews without breaking the rules

Sabotaging competitors’ listings

“This can happen when products are not enrolled in Brand Registry, and rival Sellers request changes to be made to listings such as a photo,” Gedey continues. “Replacing one photo with a poorer quality imagine - or even in some cases of a damaged or different product) can have a major impact on sales. You can ask Seller Support to have these removed but it can take time.”

Amazon employees providing data

“This is a practise that has had a lot of public and media attention, with a number of different cases featuring allegations that Amazon employees have leaked data for bribes,” Gedey says. “This information could be anything from competitors’ sales and conversion figures, to ‘ASIN reports’ showing search history and volume for a particular product. The offer an insight into Amazon’s search algorithms, showing conversion rates for particular keywords and giving those Sellers an unfair advantage.”

Multiple Amazon accounts

“This is one way around the possible implications of any of the above - if the black hat accounts get caught using their practises, they often have other accounts to fall back on,” Gedey says. “Amazon has made significant efforts to stop this practise in last years, but all that has done is make those carrying it out more sophisticated in their approach. That can include using different bank accounts, credit cards and even addresses, using different VPNs and ISPs to avoid detection.”

Here is more information on How Amazon knows if you have multiple accounts

How can I avoid dirty tricks on Amazon?

“The most straight forward advice is to be forewarned about these practises - if any of them hit without you knowing that it can be a deliberate tactic by a rival Seller, it can be hugely confusing,” Gedey adds. “The sooner you are aware of them the more likely you are to be able to react with minimal impact. Thompson and Holt is also offering a free month’s trial of our Monitor and Protect service, which quickly highlights any suspicious activity on your Amazon account.”

Worried about an Amazon suspension?

If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.

Thompson and Holt are also offering a free month’s trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.

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