Amazon will start publicly listing the names and addresses of US-based third-party sellers on its Marketplace platform as a measure to fight counterfeiters, according to a report from Business Insider. The change was announced in a note sent to sellers on Wednesday, and the change goes into effect on September 1st.
“These features help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling,” the note says, according to a copy obtained by Business Insider. “We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.” The change in policy will make it harder to stay an anonymous seller on Marketplace, but it also means customers will know exactly which individual or entity they’re buying form and where that business is located.
In a statement given to The Verge, Amazon confirmed the policy change. “Over the years, we have developed many ways for sellers to share more about their business, including through features like the seller profile pages, ‘Store’ pages for brand owners, and Handmade ‘Maker Profile’ pages,” a company spokesperson says. “These features help customers learn more about sellers’ businesses and their products. Beginning September 1, we will also display sellers’ business name and address on their Amazon.com seller profile page to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.”
Business Insider notes that the suggestion to provide more transparency around e-commerce transactions came from a January counterfeiting report from the Department of Homeland Security. “To increase transparency on this issue, platforms should significantly improve their pre-sale identification of third-party sellers so that buyers can make informed decisions, potentially factoring in the likelihood of being sold a counterfeit or IPR infringing merchandise,” the report reads.
Amazon has long fought counterfeiters on Marketplace, which is now responsible for more than half of all of the company’s e-commerce sales. The company has tried a number of tactics over the years, including monitoring suspicious listings and sellers using various automated software and taking action against sellers of items that are prone to price gouging and other forms of fraud, like face masks and hand sanitizer, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company has also cut deals with some sellers, like Apple and Nike (which ended its deal last year), to create dedicated storefronts for brands on its platform, although deals like those have had the adverse effect of kicking off legitimate third-party sellers in the process.
Last month, Amazon went so far as to launch a Counterfeit Crimes Unit made up of “former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts” to “go on the offensive” against counterfeiters. As part of the announcement, Amazon said it spent $500 million last year to fight fraud, abuse, and counterfeit products, and that it took down 2.5 million potential bad actor accounts shut down 6 billion suspicious listings.
Part of the reason for Amazon’s aggressive enforcement here can also be attributed to its rocky relationship with the Trump administration, which stems in part from the ongoing feud between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and President Trump over the Bezos’ ownership of The Washington Post. In April, the Office of the US Trade Representative placed five of Amazon’s foreign websites on the annual “notorious markets” list, in effect labeling Amazon’s international businesses as hot spots for sales of counterfeits. Amazon responded by claiming it was a victim of Trump’s vendetta against the company. Nonetheless, Amazon has made a renewed effort in recent months to show that it takes counterfeiting seriously.