The Web Retailer News Digest for October 1st, 2021

Earlier this year, Amazon banned hundreds of Chinese sellers who had been manipulating product reviews on an industrial scale. With their selling accounts suspended and funds frozen, Amazon’s Great Purge decimated many Chinese manufacturers.

But these sellers didn’t enter the marketplace under the radar – they were invited in by Amazon, through an aggressive recruitment program that lasted many years. The Chinese sellers were brought in en masse and allowed to run riot, and now Amazon’s reputation is seriously damaged by the actions they took to undermine the product review system.

Surely, the ecommerce industry has learned a lesson from all this? Well, not eBay. Amazon’s rival of old has just launched a “Star Plan” for Chinese sellers to help them sell their products directly to buyers in the US and worldwide.

The lucky sellers will be rewarded by eBay with “official store” badges, help with coupon marketing, access to CPC ads, and the dedicated support of an account management team. Not surprisingly, this has not been welcomed by domestic eBay sellers.

Chinese sellers get a helping hand… but not from Amazon

eBay’s Star Plan has had little publicity in the West, which is surely by design. Emails about Amazon’s own “From China” project, exposed by a US government investigation, famously said:

The risky downside to this is that US and EU based sellers do not find this avalanche of China-based sellers very amusing.

Well, they got that right.

Comments on Tamebay’s report about eBay’s new program asked when domestic sellers would get their own “star seller” program, and lamented the apparent contempt for local businesses.

Read more at Tamebay.

Amazon settles with influencers who sold fakes

Amazon has reached an agreement with two social media influencers who sold counterfeit fashion items including handbags and belts.

Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci used TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook to promote products on Amazon and other online marketplaces. They took the creative step of using generic photos in the product listings to evade Amazon’s detection, but shipping counterfeit designer items to customers who bought them.

Their social media posts instructed followers that by placing an order for a generic item they would actually receive a counterfeit designer product. It’s a little confusing, but the whole scheme was helpfully illustrated:

Fake bag

As part of the settlement, Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci have to:

  • Make settlement payments to Amazon, which will be donated to charities.
  • Cooperate with Amazon’s investigation of other defendants and suppliers.
  • Permanently avoid selling, marketing, promoting or even linking to any products on Amazon.

One of the charities Amazon will donate its settlement money to is the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Unreal Campaign, an initiative that helps educate 14 to 23 year olds about intellectual property rights.

Read more at CNBC.

Etsy partners with Airbnb and launches virtual house

Etsy has been busy with two new marketing initiatives, both of which are focused on interior decor.

Hosting Essentials is a collection of Etsy products picked to add to the appeal of Airbnb rental accommodation. Etsy sellers have until October 4th to apply to be featured.

The Etsy House is a virtual reality experience that allows shoppers to walk around a digital environment filled with products available on Etsy. You can select items and click through to buy them on the site.

Read more at Etsy for Airbnb and virtual house.

Also in the news

  • FBA deadlines announced for holiday sales. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums.
  • Amazon shipping settings tool now predicts delivery times. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums.
  • eBay Managed Payments now available worldwide. Read more at eBay.
  • DJ Skee partners with eBay on special edition trading cards. Read more at Den of Geek.
  • USPS suspends services to New Zealand. Read more at eBay.
  • eBay launches a new loyalty program for sneaker collectors. Find out more at YouTube.
  • Mercari adds a buy-now-pay-later checkout option. Read more at Mercari.
  • TikTok announces new ecommerce features. Read more at TikTok.

Webinars in the week ahead

For everyone

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program rolls on with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, reporting, optimization and tips (Amazon).

For US sellers

Various dates: Amazon Small Business Academy Pathways series (Amazon).

For UK sellers

October 5: Pan-European FBA (Amazon).

October 5: Grow your sales in the Middle East with (DIT).

October 6: Are you ready to protect your brand during Peak Season? (Amazon).

October 7: Becoming a featured offer for Fulfilled by Merchant (Amazon).

And finally…

Amazon’s home robot is NOT the size of “two small cats”

Back in March, news was leaked that Amazon was working on a domestic robot called “Vesta”. The droid was said to have a screen, microphone, cameras, a small cargo compartment, and a “waist-high retractable pole with a camera”. It was also described as being the size of two small cats.

It turns out that the robot is called Astro, and it has a screen, microphone, cameras, a small cargo compartment, and – yes – even a waist-high retractable pole with a camera.

But disappointingly, it really can’t be described as being the size of two small cats. This is a robot that is no bigger than one-and-a-half small cats, absolute max.

Read more at The Verge.


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