The Web Retailer News Digest for October 29th, 2021

Around June this year, Amazon started banning hundreds of Chinese merchants including best-selling brands such as Mpow, Aukey and Ravpower. Then last month, Amazon finally confirmed what everybody had assumed all along – that these companies were banned for product review manipulation.

This week, we learned that Walmart has added 5,000 sellers from China, since opening up the marketplace to foreign sellers in March this year. Before then, only US companies could sell on

Who are these new Chinese sellers on Walmart? Well, some of them are exactly the same brands banned from Amazon just a few months ago. They say that as one door closes, another one opens. 

That seems to hold true even if you are willing to mislead customers by cheating on product reviews.

Here’s where the banned Chinese sellers went

The research by Marketplace Pulse found that 20% of new sellers joining Walmart this month are based in China. In fact, the only foreign sellers that have joined the site since it opened to international businesses are from China.

Are Walmart concerned about the history of review manipulation that some of these companies bring with them? Or are they more than happy to take Amazon’s cast-offs, because it will push down prices and generate sales? Will these companies use the same tactics to manipulate reviews on Walmart?

Of course you can’t expect Amazon’s competitors to reject sellers just because Amazon did. But Walmart vets and approves every seller before they can come onboard. It’s quite normal for this type of “gated” marketplace to consider the reputation of sellers on other platforms as part of the process. Apparently being banned for cheating on reviews is not a big red flag.

This follows the news earlier this month of eBay’s own “Star Plan” to help Chinese sellers trade on their marketplace as well.

Read more at Marketplace Pulse.

eBay is making more money on fewer sales

Speaking of eBay, the company’s third-quarter financial results came out this week with some interesting figures:

  • Revenue up 11%
  • Marketplace sales (GMV) down 10%
  • Active buyers down 5%

This doesn’t bode well for sellers. eBay is making more money for itself on lower sales and lower user numbers. In other words, the pie is shrinking but eBay’s slice is getting bigger. That’s just greedy.

If you want to know more, check out Value Added Resource for an extensive commentary on eBay CEO Jamie Iannone’s earnings call.

Read more at ZDNet.

Amazon’s biggest warehouse has 10,000 robots

Amazon has all the big numbers again this week, with the opening of its biggest fulfillment center yet, in Stanton, Delaware.

The cavernous building, adapted from a former General Motors factory, covers 3.7 million square feet, cost $250 million dollars, and is staffed by 10,000 robots and 1,000 human workers.

The robots shift eight-foot high stacks of products around the warehouse in a display of precision choreography, but they can’t beat humans when it comes to manual dexterity.

The facility is still being fitted out, and may eventually employ as many as 5,000 workers.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Also in the news

  • New tools to help US Amazon sellers trade internationally. Amazon Press Center.
  • Sellers who self-fulfill can now offer free returns. Amazon Seller Forums 
  • Eight new measurement solutions shown at Amazon Ads conference. Amazon Ads.
  • Christmas shipping deadlines and surcharges. Etsy and eBay.

Webinars in the week ahead

For everyone

November 3-4: Amazon ads online summit. Amazon.

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

November 4: Using Amazon Data for Last-Minute Holiday Optimizations. Tinuiti (registration closed).

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

For UK sellers

November 4:  Must-Know Retail Media and Social Commerce Trends. ChannelAdvisor.

And finally…

Scalping bots want to ruin your Christmas

As long as there have been hot-selling products, there have been people who will go to great lengths to buy them, either for themselves or to flip for a quick profit.

Specialized shopping software such as Cybersole is now being used by scalpers to buy hundreds of collectible sneakers that are supposed to be limited to one per customer. They can flip them for double the price in a single day.

But it isn’t just sneakers that are being targeted. Scalping bots are used to target all kinds of high-demand products such as PlayStation 5’s and other games consoles. The result is a cat-and-mouse game between retailers and bot makers as each one tries to get ahead of the other.

With global supply chain problems on one side, and scalpers working hard to take advantage of high demand on the other, we all need to think about getting our Christmas shopping done earlier than ever.

Read more at Bloomberg.


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