Amazon is piloting a program to remotely validate potential sellers' identification through video conferencing, according to a company statement sent to Retail Dive.
Amazon will use a proprietary machine learning system to review hundreds of unique data points to spot potential risks, such as whether the account is associated with another previously shuttered account. The company will set up a video call with prospective sellers, verify that their identification matches the documents submitted in their application and use trained investigators to review applications before approving third-party sellers.
The company launched in-person seller verifications earlier this year, but pivoted to video conferencing in February due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
It appears that Amazon is taking another step toward tamping down on fraud with this initiative, which is being piloted in various countries, including the U.S., U.K., China and Japan. Amazon stated that, in 2019, its protective measures stopped 2.5 million accounts globally before they could list any products for sale on the platform.
"This pilot allows us to connect one-on-one with prospective sellers while making it even more difficult for fraudsters to hide," an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to Retail Dive.
Amazon has been criticized in the past for some of its third-party selling practices. Last October, the American Apparel and Footwear Association recommended that the U.S. trade office denote some of the online retail giant's sites as "notorious markets," due to the proliferation of counterfeit goods. At that time, the company responded to the AAFA's statement by stating that the company goes "well beyond our legal obligations and invest[s] heavily in proactive efforts to prevent counterfeits from ever reaching our stores."
Complications with third-party sellers and a need to have deeper brand control has resulted in some larger retailers pulling back from the platform. Last November, Nike announced that it would pull its products from Amazon and Birkenstock said it would no longer sell its products on Amazon in 2016.
In the past few years, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have been working to reduce the fake goods sold through their platforms, but there are various reasons why consumers turn to knockoffs in the first place.
Amazon's most recent announcement about verifying seller identities to combat fraud comes as The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. trade representative's office listed Amazon's domains in France, Germany, India, Canada and the U.K. on its "notorious markets" list.