The Current, delivered daily.
Amazon is taking legal action aimed at shutting down a pair of entities it says are spreading fake reviews of merchandise on retail channels.
The company said it filed a lawsuit against AppSally and Rebatest, which it said were two of the largest so-called fake review brokers. These entities orchestrate fake reviews on sites like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Etsy in a bid to mislead consumers.
“Fake review brokers attempt to profit by deceiving unknowing consumers and creating an unfair competitive advantage that harms our selling partners,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon VP of WW Customer Trust & Partner Support, in a statement. “We know how valuable trustworthy reviews are to our customers. That is why we are holding these review fraudsters accountable. While we prevent millions of suspicious reviews from ever appearing in our store, these lawsuits target the source.”
Retail channels such as Amazon offer product reviews to offer consumers a chance to leave notes about their experience and satisfaction with a product. Amazon retains credibility from the reviews being authentic, but the platform has discovered a wide-ranging enterprise devoted to offering fake reviews that hype up products in recent years. The fake reviews are an industry unto themselves.
The brokers in question allegedly connect third-party sellers on Amazon’s marketplace with customers who are willing to leave a positive review. It’s all incentivized with payment, or free products. In all, Amazon said it conducted an investigation that found fake review brokers have up to 900,000 members willing to write fraudulent testimonials.
Amazon describes the companies named in its lawsuit this way:
“For example, the fake review site AppSally sells fake reviews for as low as at $20 and instructs bad actors to ship empty boxes to people willing to write fake reviews, and to provide AppSally with photos to be uploaded alongside their reviews. The fraudulent scheme run by Rebatest will only pay people writing 5-star reviews after their fake reviews are approved by the bad actors attempting to sell those items.”
Amazon has been waging a multiyear battle against the fake reviews, and uses a combination of investigative talent and machine learning in a bid to root them out. The company also says it can stop fake reviews before they are seen on the platform, and stopped 200 million from going public in 2020.
It has not been a stranger to legal action to stop the companies behind fake reviews either, most recently shutting down companies in Germany and the UK last year. The fake reviews have also caught the attention of federal regulators. Platforms including Amazon were warned last year to crack down, or face fines.
Trending in Shopper Experience
Amazon partnered with Hexa to provide access to a platform that creates lifelike digital images.
Amazon sellers will be able to offer a variety of 3D visualizations on product pages through a new set of immersive tools that are debuting on Tuesday.
Through an expanded partnership with Hexa, Amazon is providing access to a workflow that allows sellers to create 3D assets and display the following:
- 3D images
- 360 viewing
- Virtual try-on
- Augmented reality content
- High-definition marketing materials, including packshots and lifestyle images through AWS Thinkbox.
Selllers don't need prior experience with 3D or virtual reality to use the system, according to Hexa. Amazon selling partners can upload their Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) into Hexa’s content management system. Then, the system will automatically convert an image into a 3D model with AR compatibility. Amazon can then animate the images with 360-degree viewing and augmented reality, which renders digital imagery over a physical space.
Hexa’s platform uses AI to create digital twins of physical objects, including consumer goods. Over the last 24 months, Hexa worked alongside the spatial computing team at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the imaging team at Amazon.com to build the infrastructure that provides 3D assets for the thousands of sellers that work with Amazon.
“Working with Amazon has opened up a whole new distribution channel for our partners,” said Gavin Goodvach, Hexa’s Vice President of Partnerships.
Hexa’s platform is designed to create lifelike renderings that can explored in 3D, or overlaid into photos of the physical world. It allows assets from any category to be created, ranging from furniture to jewelry to apparel.
A Hexa 3D rendering (Courtesy photo)
The result is a system that allows sellers to provide a new level of personalization, said Hexa CEO Yehiel Atias. Consumers will have new opportunity see a product in a space, or what it looks like on their person.
Additionally, merchants can leverage these tools to optimize the entire funnel of a purchase. Advanced imagery allows more people to view and engage with a product during the initial shopping experience. Following the purchase, consumers who have gotten a better look at a product from all angles will be more likely to have confidence that the product matches their needs. In turn, this can reduce return rates.
While Amazon has previously introduced virtual try-on and augmented reality tools, this partnership aims to expand these capabilities beyond the name brands that often have 1P relationships with Amazon. Third-party sellers are an increasingly formidable segment of Amazon’s business, as they account for 60% of sales on the marketplace. Now, these sellers are being equipped with tools that enhance the shopping experience for everyone.
A video displaying the new capabilities is below. Amazon sellers can learn more about the platform here.
Hexa & Amazon - 3D Production Powerhousewww.youtube.com