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Identifying Fake Reviews On Amazon

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@TheMarkupThe Markup

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Spotting the fakes isn’t always possible, but here are some tips

Rebecca Jones, of London, recently pulled up Amazon.co.uk to search for a phone adapter.  She was reading through the reviews for one she was considering buying, when suddenly she started noticing mentions of what a great taco holder the product was. 

“The taco holder got great reviews, but there wasn’t much for my phone adapter,” said Jones by email. “You do sometimes see reviews for slightly different items appear on a listing, but this was definitely a new one for me.”

Jones had likely stumbled across something called “review hijacking”—a way that sellers can effectively steal reviews from older products in order to catapult their listing to the top of search results. Unscrupulous sellers have found a number of ways to take existing reviews and attach them to a new, unrelated product, betting that most shoppers will just give the page a glance and not notice that the five stars and glowing text are actually for a taco holder instead of a phone adapter.

Legit review for the listing

Old review hijacked from a taco holder listing

View screenshot of full page

For Jones, the out-of-place reviews gave her pause and ended up steering her away from the purchase. 

“It made me laugh but it also made me suspicious of the seller and obviously I couldn’t trust that the product was any good,” she said.

The Markup reached out to the seller, “Wilma Marmon,” which lists its business address in Chengdu, China, for comment but did not get a response.

Trust is key for online marketplaces, but recently Amazon, which has generally enjoyed a high level of trust, suffered a number of conspicuous stumbles. There have been reports of everything from counterfeit goods to recalled products to expired food found for sale on the platform. An investigation by The Markup found nearly 100 banned items that had slipped past Amazon security, revealing flaws in how Amazon polices its platform for fraud and abuse. 

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Patrick Graham said customer trust is a top priority. 

“In 2019, we invested over $500 million and have more than 8,000 employees protecting our store from fraud and abuse. We have robust
proactive and reactive systems in place to protect our store and our customers.” Graham also noted that the company uses a combination of
machine learning tools and human investigators to analyze millions of
reviews per week, with a goal of stopping fake reviews before they are
published. 

Review hijacking is just one of many ways unscrupulous sellers get around Amazon’s safeguards in order to make their products look trustworthy. Recognizing shady product reviews isn’t always possible, but understanding how Amazon works helps—so here’s a little primer on
Amazon’s ecosystem and some tips for spotting those fakes. 

How Fake Reviews Happen 

Reviews are the oil that keeps the gears of the Amazon machine turning. A 2020 survey of 2,000 Amazon shoppers conducted by e-commerce strategy firm Tinuiti found that the number of reviews was the most important factor for shoppers, after price and shipping, when making a purchase. 

Because reviews are so important, there’s a cottage industry to quickly get those first reviews written for a new product listing. 

One common technique is for a seller to offer free or discounted products in exchange for positive reviews. This sort of undisclosed incentivized reviewing was banned from Amazon in 2016 but is still widely facilitated by groups on Facebook with names like “Amazon Review Club” and “Amazon Free Products.” 

David Gasser runs the Amazon Review Club group, which currently has 1,500 members. Gasser sees no problem in matching up sellers who need reviews with reviewers who want discounts, describing it, in an email, as a “a win-win situation.” Gasser said the only problem with what his group is facilitating is “if the reviews do not represent the true opinion of the reviewer. This should be avoided. In reality, however, it is difficult to do so.” 

One common technique is for a seller to offer free or discounted products in exchange for positive reviews.

He said Facebook had previously deleted a similar group he ran that had
almost 200,000 members at the time. The Markup reached out to the owners of Amazon Free Products but did not receive a response.

Amazon spokesperson Patrick Graham said that the company “proactively works with social media sites to report bad actors who are cultivating
abusive reviews outside our store, and we’ve sued thousands of bad actors for attempting to abuse our reviews systems.” 

Here’s how it works: A buyer is offered a selection of products that need reviews. The seller (or review broker) offers specific instructions for how the buyer should find the product on Amazon to evade fraud detection, then the buyer purchases the product. 

Once the positive review is posted, the cost of the product is reimbursed to the buyer through a payment platform, often with a small bonus for the reviewer. When the review appears, it gets a reassuring “Verified Purchase” label.

Then there are various versions of review hijacking, like the one Jones experienced with the taco holder. This is common in cases of counterfeit goods, where an unscrupulous seller wants to sell a knock-off version of an
established, and well-reviewed, product and take advantage of the existing reviews. 

It is also possible for sellers to claim older, inactive product listings as their own, including the reviews. As a seller, you can search the Amazon catalog and create an “offer” for a product that is no longer in stock. It’s possible to then change the product name, description, and photos. The Verge reported that sellers were even using this hijacking technique on Amazon’s own brand listings. 

Sellers also can also create illegitimate “variations” on a product: In the seller tools, a variation would normally be used to create an alternate size or color of the product for sale, but they can be misused to insert an unrelated product, which would still benefit from the original item’s review and ratings history. 

Amazon’s Graham said that the company “groups variations (e.g., different colors, sizes) and merges duplicates of the same product onto one detail page so customers have an easy and intuitive shopping experience.” He added that the company takes enforcement actions against the listings and sellers when they detect “abusive grouping.”

Ratings ≠ Reviews

Reviews are one thing, but those star ratings that appear next to a product are another. In October 2019, Amazon changed the label next to the stars in product listings from “customer reviews” to “ratings.” The distinction may seem subtle, but it signified a big change in how customer feedback is recorded and measured. 

The change lets a customer give a one-tap rating to an item. While this change makes it easier for customers to quickly rate a product once purchased, it also makes it hard to know where the ratings are coming from, since there is no way to connect a star rating to a purchaser. 

This is a move away from transparency according to Tommy Noonan,
founder of ReviewMeta, a review analysis site. “They are making it more
obfuscated and hidden and harder for the average Joe.” 

For example, Noonan said he recently saw a “posture corrector” brace that showed it had earned five stars and “3,600 ratings.” But clicking through to “See all reviews from the United States” through a link at the bottom of the page, there were only 15 written reviews. After we shared this listing with Amazon, all of the reviews and ratings were removed. 

Amazon spokesperson Patrick Graham said the one-tap ratings feature captures more feedback for customers. 

“Because they are lightweight and easy to provide, many more purchasers are willing to provide their feedback. As a result our ratings reflect the experiences of more customers,” he said. He also noted that Amazon only includes one-tap ratings associated with verified purchases in the overall star rating for a product. 

And here’s a fun fact: You will never be able to read more than 10,000 customer reviews for a product—Amazon caps how many you can see.
Amazon spokesperson Graham said, “Fewer than 1% of customers read more than 150 reviews for a given product.”

Some Tips on How to Spot Fakes

Pay more attention to reviews, less to the star rating.

Remember, reviews can be linked to a profile, but star counts are not transparent. Read a sample of both positive and negative reviews. 

Sort by “most recent” reviews

Don’t depend on the default curated “top” reviews. “That top critical review can be curated by the seller,” says ReviewMeta’s Noonan. Amazon’s Graham says the company uses machine learning to detect manipulation of votes for top reviews, and that the company will “ban vendors, sellers, and reviewers who are found to be out of compliance with our policies.”

Don’t read too much into photos or videos

In an attempt to make improperly incentivized reviews appear more legitimate, Noonan says, some sellers tell paid reviewers to include photos or videos. If a product has a lot of reviews with videos and photos, that’s unusual, he says. 

Check some review sites

You can look up most items on two popular review sites, Fakespot and ReviewMeta, which make an attempt at detecting authentic reviews versus fraudulent ones. Both sites let you paste in an Amazon product listing URL and get an independent analysis of the reviews.

Credits

Originally published as “Is This Amazon ReviewBullshit?” with the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.

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AR/VR

Augmented Reality Transforming E-commerce

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Linda Malecaj

Nowadays a technology that is undergoing very fast development and application in most industries is Augmented Reality (AR). This technology expands our physical world by adding layers of digital information to it. Although people’s scepticism about the reliability of the benefits that this technology brings, at the same time, its adoption by many businesses is moving at a giant pace. One of the adopters of AR is also e-commerce. Taking into account the situations that the world has faced in recent years, this technology is really providing real benefits for the significant improvement of the services that e-commerce offers.

Given that e-commerce is a large and important part of the economy at the same time it is also the key point for businesses that sell their products or services online. E-commerce gives businesses the ability to reach more customers than they do with traditional retail methods. The increase in the number of people making their purchases online makes this retail market the fastest growing. E-commerce is an ideal way to develop brands from a traditional store in a given location to a brand easily accessible from different countries around the globe. Despite the fact that e-commerce brings development and character to brands, it also has its challenges.

In this article, we will look in detail at how AR technology is being used by e-commerce businesses to expand their businesses, increase sales, and increase customer satisfaction.

1. How VR could bring transhumanism to the masses

2. How Augmented Reality (AR) is Reshaping the Food Service Industry

3. ExpiCulture — Developing an Original World-Traveling VR Experience

4. Enterprise AR: 7 real-world use cases for 2021

Every business is developing experiential marketing strategies which means the interaction between their brand and customers is giving great importance to the successful performance of sales. AR technology develops a closer relationship between the brand and customers thanks to the opportunity for practical product testing. This way customers have the opportunity to try out a product before making the decision to buy it. All of this helps to significantly increase customer engagement because potential customers spend more time on the site. This close relationship that is created in the customer connection between the brand increases the chances that this user will reach faster to the decision of making purchases.

Increase Brand Awareness

Given that businesses operating in e-commerce are numerous, this means that the competition is quite high. Generating high traffic to sites is one of the most important goals that translate into improved SEO. Thanks to the unique experience that AR integrated into the site offers makes it attract new users and bring back old users. In cases, where the user returns, means that the goal to offer something valuable and innovative has been achieved. Herein lies the role of AR that makes the user experience more interesting. At the same time for new users, it becomes possible to achieve the conviction they need to buy a product thanks to its exploration through AR tools.

Provide Unique Shopping Experience

AR technology in e-commerce enhances the shopping experience by making it more unique and interactive. Thanks to this technology, customers have complete control over the products. In this way, customers having control over the products feel closer and more connected to the product making them loyal to the brand. Thanks to AR tools they are also able to personalize their products and this makes it possible to successfully meet their requirements. At the same time, through the introduction of AR in e-commerce, the return of products due to customer dissatisfaction has decreased significantly. This saves companies costs for transportation, refilling, repackaging and ensures a high level of customer satisfaction.

Eliminate Hygiene Issues

Maintaining hygiene in business premises is always a worrying problem, especially during gatherings in showrooms. Nowadays this problem coupled with the pandemic all over the world has brought this problem to another level as an obligation even in the form of maintaining social distance. To avoid all these also from the various restrictions on closing stores have made online sales increase significantly. AR is a perfect solution to improve the online shopping experience which eliminates the need to explore the desired products for purchase in showrooms or stores, thus preserving social distance and eliminating the need for unnecessary visits.

As mentioned above, nowadays when social distance has already become an important part of everyday reality, AR comes to the aid of businesses as a powerful tool to significantly improve e-commerce. The integration of this technology in e-commerce stores provides the most innovative, friendly and enjoyable shopping experiences. AR technology has the potential to ensure a breakthrough in the e-commerce industry by providing rapid growth for businesses thanks to high sales. The ability of this technology to change and improve the way businesses in this industry operate is also an impetus for the leaders of many companies to adopt this technology today.

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Source: https://arvrjourney.com/augmented-reality-transforming-e-commerce-cae0105b8b00?source=rss—-d01820283d6d—4

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Josh Payne, CEO of StackCommerce, Named Finalist for EY 2021…

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EY has announced Josh Payne, founder and CEO of leading commerce and content platform StackCommerce, as a finalist for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2021 Greater Los Angeles award for the third time, also making this his 4th year named as a semifinalist.

This esteemed awards program, now in its 35th year, identifies unstoppable entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of innovation, to honor them for their tenacity, ambition, and courage in the face of constant barriers.

Since the start of the pandemic, Josh has been a guiding light for the company. After shifting operations fully online, he led the way in providing necessary support to allow the team to thrive professionally and personally with virtual events, extreme flex time, company-wide executive coaching, and being open about his own struggles during this period. In the midst of it all, he navigated StackCommerce through a majority-stake acquisition by TPG’s Integrated Media, further ensuring the company’s bright future.

“This feels particularly meaningful after such an unexpected and successful year for StackCommerce,” said Josh. “I’m humbled to be in such impressive company, both among these incredible entrepreneurs and as part of a team who came together to support Stack and each other in so many ways.”

Award winners will be announced during a virtual celebration on Thursday, July 29, and will become lifetime members of a prestigious, global network of Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni. Regional award winners are also eligible for consideration for the National Awards.

Through an independent panel of judges, the program has celebrated the leadership of professionals such as Mindy Grossman of HSN, Gail Becker of Caulipower, John Mackey of Whole Foods Market, Katerina Schneider of Ritual, Joey Gonzalez of Barry’s, Nick Green of Thrive Market, and Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon Limited.

Stay up-to-date on Josh’s journey on Twitter by following @StackCommerce and @jnpayne.

About Josh Payne:

Josh Payne is an entrepreneur, investor, and startup advisor. He is currently the Founder & CEO of StackCommerce, the leading content + commerce platform. Prior to founding StackCommerce, Josh spent the previous decade working and investing in the technology sector. Josh earned his MBA from Duke University and his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Indiana University.

Josh is a startup mentor for venture firms Amplify.LA & 500 Startups and a featured speaker at conferences worldwide, including Affiliate Summit, Content & Commerce Summit, and The Next Web Conference. Josh also serves on the board of Trubrain.com, a venture-backed biohacking startup. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) Bel-Air Chapter, a three-time Finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Greater Los Angeles, and a recipient of the “Best CEO in Los Angeles” awarded by Comparably.com. He is a husband, father of three, triathlete, and avid explorer having traveled to over 40 countries worldwide.

About StackCommerce:

StackCommerce is the leading commerce + content platform. For consumers, we help them discover and purchase products directly on the news and content sites they visit daily. For merchants, we provide unmatched exposure through shoppable articles and product features on the world’s largest media outlets. For publishers, we power white-labeled e-commerce shops with on-site checkout for over 1,000 publishers including Yahoo!, CNN, Hearst, Mashable, NY Post, TMZ, MarketWatch, and many more. TPG’s Integrated Media acquired a majority stake in the company in December 2020.

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Over $20,000,000 in Surplus PPE Inventory to be Sold at Auction in…

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Auction of $20M in PPE: Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Masks, More

Auction of $20M in PPE: Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Masks, More

Even though the current state of Covid-19 has reduced the demand for these items in the US, if you look at the data from around the world, the demand for these products is actually on the rise again

AuctionAdvisors has been retained to conduct an online auction for over $20,000,000 in excess PPE. This sale, among the largest of its kind, includes Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Lotions, Disinfectant Wipes, Masks and Component Inventory. The auction will take place online beginning on June 28th and ending at 3PM on June 30th. Pickup or shipping is available. A full catalog is currently accessible through the AuctionAdvisors website.

The auction has a tremendous amount of merchandise and consists of almost 1,000 pallets of high end and brand name inventory. “Whether you are in the hospitality or transportation business, a hospital system, or any type of retail facing business, this is the sale for you” said Taurat Hossain, Director at AuctionAdvisors. All Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Lotions and Disinfectant Wipes are made in the USA. Additionally, all these products have the appropriate Safety Data Sheets – all detailed in the online catalog. The KN-95 face masks, which total to 1.5M pieces, have the appropriate Lab Testing Report and EU Certification also detailed in the catalog. Also included in this auction sale are thousands of components including pumps, bottles and caps that can be used for a variety of purposes.

“This is an excellent opportunity for resellers as well. Even though the current state of Covid-19 has reduced the demand for these items in the US, if you look at the data from around the world, the demand for these products is actually on the rise again” according to Joshua Olshin, Managing Partner of AuctionAdvisors. Buying items such as these during the height of the pandemic was nearly impossible and there is certainly a glut of inventory now, but the overall demand is still very elevated and will stay that way for a while. People habits have just changed and many will be slow to change back. In addition, some are even preparing for another potential wave as we are seeing occur in other parts of the world or other variant will be well positioned.

For more information, please contact Taurat Hossain via email at thossain@auctionadvisors.com or by phone at 888-243-3431 ext. 710.

AuctionAdvisors, based in the New York metropolitan area, is a full-service auction company. For a complete list of auctions and sales or to learn more about AuctionAdvisors visit http://www.AuctionAdvisors.com.

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Source: https://www.prweb.com/releases/over_20_000_000_in_surplus_ppe_inventory_to_be_sold_at_auction_in_june/prweb18001050.htm

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Ecommerce

Over $20,000,000 in Surplus PPE Inventory to be Sold at Auction in…

Published

on

Auction of $20M in PPE: Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Masks, More

Auction of $20M in PPE: Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Masks, More

Even though the current state of Covid-19 has reduced the demand for these items in the US, if you look at the data from around the world, the demand for these products is actually on the rise again

AuctionAdvisors has been retained to conduct an online auction for over $20,000,000 in excess PPE. This sale, among the largest of its kind, includes Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Lotions, Disinfectant Wipes, Masks and Component Inventory. The auction will take place online beginning on June 28th and ending at 3PM on June 30th. Pickup or shipping is available. A full catalog is currently accessible through the AuctionAdvisors website.

The auction has a tremendous amount of merchandise and consists of almost 1,000 pallets of high end and brand name inventory. “Whether you are in the hospitality or transportation business, a hospital system, or any type of retail facing business, this is the sale for you” said Taurat Hossain, Director at AuctionAdvisors. All Soap, Hand Sanitizer, Lotions and Disinfectant Wipes are made in the USA. Additionally, all these products have the appropriate Safety Data Sheets – all detailed in the online catalog. The KN-95 face masks, which total to 1.5M pieces, have the appropriate Lab Testing Report and EU Certification also detailed in the catalog. Also included in this auction sale are thousands of components including pumps, bottles and caps that can be used for a variety of purposes.

“This is an excellent opportunity for resellers as well. Even though the current state of Covid-19 has reduced the demand for these items in the US, if you look at the data from around the world, the demand for these products is actually on the rise again” according to Joshua Olshin, Managing Partner of AuctionAdvisors. Buying items such as these during the height of the pandemic was nearly impossible and there is certainly a glut of inventory now, but the overall demand is still very elevated and will stay that way for a while. People habits have just changed and many will be slow to change back. In addition, some are even preparing for another potential wave as we are seeing occur in other parts of the world or other variant will be well positioned.

For more information, please contact Taurat Hossain via email at thossain@auctionadvisors.com or by phone at 888-243-3431 ext. 710.

AuctionAdvisors, based in the New York metropolitan area, is a full-service auction company. For a complete list of auctions and sales or to learn more about AuctionAdvisors visit http://www.AuctionAdvisors.com.

Share article on social media or email:

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