Amazon: 4 billion ‘bad products’ banned in 2021

In its second annual report, Amazon said it banned 4 billion bad items from its site last year and removed more than 3 million counterfeit products. In 2020, Amazon blocked 10 billion items and removed 2 million counterfeit products.

Amazon also found a decrease in complaints of intellectual property infringement in 2021, while the number of active brands on its site increased.

According to the report, Amazon blocked more than 2.5 million attempts to create fake accounts on its third-party marketplace, where sellers can list their products directly to consumers. That figure is down about 58% from an attempt the company said it stopped in 2020, which it attributes to its moderation process and other efforts to deter bad behavior.

But Juozas Kaziukėnas, founder of e-commerce research firm Marketplace Pulse, said it’s hard to know exactly what’s causing the decline — is it Amazon’s policy or something else?

Fake sellers have long plagued Amazon and other e-commerce retailers, including eBay. In recent years, Amazon has also stepped up its efforts to crack down on counterfeiting as major e-commerce platforms have stepped up scrutiny and lawmakers pushing for anti-counterfeiting legislation have stepped up their scrutiny.

Amazon is backing the House version of an online retail bill called the INFORM Act, which would require marketplaces to collect contact and financial information from large numbers of sellers and disclose some of that information to consumers. Amazon previously opposed a U.S. Senate bill that would have required e-commerce platforms to collect information from a larger group of third-party merchants.

Meanwhile, the lobbying group TechNet, which includes Amazon and eBay, is boycotting another bill that would hold e-commerce platforms accountable for counterfeit goods sold on their sites. An Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement that Amazon recognizes “the purpose of this legislation is to stop counterfeit products” and said it looks forward to working with Congress to achieve that goal.

Amazon implemented a program last year that required one-on-one conversations with company team members to verify their identities, making it harder for bad merchants to sign up for stores, Amazon said in the report. Amazon said it also verifies a seller’s physical location and payment instrument, and uses AI to detect risks to potential accounts.

Separately, Amazon said it spent more than $900 million last year to fight counterfeiting and sued or referred more than 600 sellers for investigation in places including the U.S. and China. Amazon did not disclose the origin of most of the counterfeit products in the report. Mary Beth Westmoreland, Amazon’s vice president of brand protection, said Amazon doesn’t share data that helps it detect and prevent counterfeit products from appearing on its website.

According to Marketplace Pulse, the share of top Chinese merchants on Amazon’s third-party marketplace has been steadily declining since the end of 2020, a trend some experts believe may be due to supply chain disruptions triggered by the pandemic and Amazon’s crackdown on fake reviews in recent years due to the efforts of other prohibited activities. Last year, Amazon banned the stores of many well-known Chinese cross-border sellers, triggering a “banning wave” of Chinese sellers.

According to Marketplace Pulse, 55% of the top sellers on Amazon’s U.S. marketplace are domestic businesses, up from 48% in November 2020.

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