We generally view trash as the discarded facet of a person’s life. But did you know that one person’s trash can be another person’s Amazon purchase? Yes, you can buy anything on the giant eCommerce website now- even literal trash.
Have you ever received products from Amazon that are grazed or have an expired date on them? Or, have you ever stumbled upon products on the website that are of dubious origin and condition? Turns out, there is a reason behind all this.
The sprawling online e-market has been trading anything and everything with minimal quality control for quite some time now.
How Does This Happen?
A very important feature of Amazon’s business model is its “third-party sellers”. Amazon has millions of these independent sellers who offer products on the company’s straggling virtual marketplace.
This comes from the platform’s quest of delivering its mission of vast product selection and customer obsession.
The third-party seller aspect of Amazon is also a crucial part of the company’s long-term growth strategy.
“Amazon marketplace is much more profitable than Amazon retail business, and thus it makes so much more sense for Amazon to grow it as opposed to its own retail operations”, said Juozas Kaziukenas, an eCommerce analyst, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
This is why Amazon fashions such an identical experience for customers that it becomes difficult to even figure out who is really doing the selling.
The inevitable meteoric growth of third-party sellers has instigated a competitive war among them on the platform. This compels these sellers to provide competitive low pricing in order to win sales over other sellers offering the same products.
From Searching For Trash In The Dumpsters To Making Them Look New: A Seller’s Story
According to the report by WSJ, sellers were not only putting up products obtained from the trash on the website, but they had also created their own Amazon stores with trash they found in the dumpster.
In their interview with the Journal, sellers admitted to offering products on Amazon after finding them from dumpsters, giving them a cleanse, and sometimes even shrink-wrapping the items for them to appear unused.
One of the sellers said, “I have sold humidifiers and keyboards that were salvaged from dumpsters for over a year through Amazon Prime.”
The WSJ reporters went trash hunting themselves and found dozens of items to sell including “a stencil set, scrapbook paper, and a sealed jar of Trader Joe’s lemon curd.”
“Setting up a storefront and listing the items for sale was easy”, the reporters said.
As a reply to WSJ’s scathing report, Amazon overhauled its policy to explicitly prohibit sellers from posting items that came from the garbage.
The company claimed that it “has always been inconsistent with Amazon’s high expectations of its sellers and prohibited by the Seller Code of Conduct on Amazon, which requires that sellers act fairly and honestly to ensure a safe buying and selling experience.”
“Sellers are responsible for meeting Amazon’s high bar for product quality,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an interview with Business Insider.
Is The Bar Really That High?
Sellers trash-hunting for products to sell on the website is not a new phenomenon. In fact, Amazon customers have had to increasingly shop at their own risk. Listings for fake, damaged, and unsafe items are proliferating on the platform.
As per the WSJ analysis, there were “8,400 comments on 4,300 food, makeup, and over-the-counter drug items making reference to “unsealed, expired, moldy, unnaturally sticky, or problematic” goods.” Out of these 4,300 products, 544 had “Amazon’s Choice” flags endorsing them to customers in search results.
This is not to deny that Amazon does sell products of good quality too. But, it might soon trade even that for the sake of growth or profit.
The dream company that once started as an online bookstore has sky-rocketed its humble- and even humanitarian- goals into something dangerous for its customers.
Hopefully, this will stop before it’s too late for even the billion-dollar tech giant to handle.
Image Sources: Google Images, Amazon
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