Amazon’s third-party seller marketplace is rife with “black hat” tactics as rival merchants turn to underhanded techniques to get ahead.
According to a new report from Business Insider, Amazon’s third-party sellers have referred to the platform as a lawless Wild West, where rival companies attempt to take down competition and absorb their sales.
Amazon’s marketplace accounted for over half of its $386 billion net sales last year, and currently sees around 3700 new sellers sign up every day.
With fortunes to be made selling goods on the platform competition between rival merchants has skyrocketed, with firms scrambling to be bumped up Amazon’s page rankings.
This has led to a range of “black-hat” tactics being employed by unscrupulous sellers, according to 10 merchants who spoke to Business Insider.
These include spamming rivals with fake negative reviews or filing fake allegations of intellectual property infringement.
Each tactic is designed to ensure the victim is punished by Amazon’s algorithm and bumped down its rankings or have them temporarily removed from the site altogether.
One seller, Molson Hart, said his educational toy company successfully sued a seller in China over trademark-infringement allegations.
Soon afterwards, the Chinese company filed false allegations of intellectual-property infringement against Hart, seeing his company booted off Amazon for 24 hours.
The next day the Chinese seller did the same thing the Hart’s distributor in the UK.
“It hurt our rank on Amazon,” Hart said.
“That probably got permanently damaged. And the thing to remember is we have a court judgment against this person. It’s totally crazy.
“If you can take down your competitor on Amazon.com, you’ll capture their sales.
In response to the report, Amazon said: “In order to protect both customers and sellers, we have selling policies that all sellers agree to and we take swift action against those that violate them, including suspending or removing selling privileges.
“We take this responsibility seriously, monitor our decision accuracy and maintain a high bar. If ever a seller believes we’ve made an error, we have an appeal process in place and they can contact us directly.”