How Chinese Sellers are Manipulating Amazon in 2021

November 10, 2019 in Amazon, Blog
How Chinese Sellers are Manipulating Amazon in 2021
Fake reviews, variation hacking, competitor sabotage, & more

Chinese Sellers Manipulating Amazon

How many Chinese Sellers are there on Amazon and what tactics are they using to get ahead?

Selling on Amazon is HUGE in China. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 200,000 Chinese businesses currently selling on Amazon and this number is only expected to rise.

In this article, we’ll look at the tactics being used by Chinese Amazon sellers in 2021 to manipulate the platform. We’ll also re-explore some of the old tricks they’ve been using for some time now.

Related Podcast: Episode 178 – How Chinese Sellers Are Manipulating Amazon and Outsmarting You

Why Are There So Many Chinese Sellers?

Let’s start off with a love triangle: Amazon is in love with Chinese entrepreneurs, Chinese entrepreneurs are in love with Amazon, and the Chinese government is in love with Amazon. Let’s examine why the love affair exists and also how many Chinese sellers there are.

Why Chinese Entrepreneurs Love Amazon

There are arguably a few other countries as comfortable with ecommerce as China. The two largest sites in China, JD.com and Taobao.com have, respectively, $67 billion and $40 billion in revenue (which, when combined, is over 40% more than Amazon’s revenue). When you combine this with China’s rich manufacturing background, it’s no wonder the dream of ‘selling on Amazon’ is huge.

There is also no shortage of online marketers selling this dream. One popular Chinese e-learning website has dozens of courses covering every selling on Amazon topic imaginable at prices ranging from $5 to $100.

Related Reading: I Attended the Largest Chinese Amazon Seller Conference in the World [2019]

Why Amazon Loves Chinese Sellers

Amazon’s mission is to provide customers with the lowest priced products possible. Part of the way to achieve this is to deliver the flattest supply chain, and that means getting sellers as close to Chinese factories as possible.

The Chinese version of the Amazon Selling portal (translated into English) actively promotes how easy it is to get started selling on Amazon to hopeful Chinese sellers.

One of the ways Amazon actively recruits more sellers is by routinely holding summits in Mainland China. These conferences are now held in several cities across the country each year and attract thousands of people, both those already selling on Amazon and those looking to sell on Amazon.

Just How Much Are Your Competitors Importing from China?

It’s not just Chinese sellers—your US-based competitors are selling products from China, too.

Custom import records are public information in the United States, and there are multiple tools that allow you to simply search for a company name and see exactly how much these companies are importing from China.

Research tools which lean on public U.S. customs records can be extremely valuable for finding and verifying Suppliers.

My favorite tool for this is Jungle Scout’s Supplier Database tool which costs less than $50 a month (other more expensive options include Import Genius and Panjiva). These tools will neatly summarize all the information included on a particular company’s Bill of Lading information such as product type, quantity, and supplier name/address.

Why the Chinese Government Loves Amazon

At the same time, the Chinese government is hungry for anything cross-border ecommerce. Why? Cross-border ecommerce means exports, something the Chinese government is desperate for, especially in the midst of a trade war with the U.S.

skyline shenzhen amazon

The majority of Chinese Amazon sellers are based in China’s Silicon Valley, Shenzhen.

In Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of China, the Chinese government has helped develop numerous industrial parks such as China South City (华南城) devoted almost entirely to ecommerce sellers. Provincial governments have also gotten onboard like Zhejiang who has developed “Cross-border E-Commerce Experimental Zones” focused on promoting cross-border ecommerce to local manufacturers and sellers (Zhejiang claimed to have over roughly 80,000 cross border sellers).

How Many Chinese Amazon Sellers Are There?

Amazon announced that third-party sellers overall make up 58% of all of Amazon’s sales. It’s also estimated that there are 2,500,000 active sellers on Amazon.

Amazon has never released exact figures on just how many of these sellers are Chinese but there are a couple ways we can estimate it.

First, we can determine a seller’s origin by cross-referencing their brand registry trademark information to their registered address using a tool like Seller Motor. By looking at products with a top 5000 BSR (Best Seller Rank) we determined that over 48% were Chinese.

amazon sellers by country

In our poll of high-volume sellers, 44% of sellers estimated between 10-19.99% of their competitors were Chinese.

number of chinese sellers

These numbers are consistent with other industry estimates which have suggested the number of Chinese sellers overall ranges from 10% to 25%.

What (Malicious) Tactics are Chinese Sellers Using to Get Ahead?

There are several malicious selling strategies being used by Chinese sellers including:

  • Fake reviews
  • Counterfeit products
  • Sabotaging competitors’ product listings
  • Variation abuse
  • Stealing internal Amazon data

I’ll review how each of these tactics is employed below.

Using Fake Reviews to Mislead Buyers

It’s no secret that Amazon customer reviews are one of the most important factors affecting a customer’s purchase decision on Amazon. So it’s no surprise that it’s also one of the most frequently abused tactics by Chinese sellers. Zach Franklin of AMZKungfu is originally from Detroit but now lives in Shenzhen, China and is a popular non-Chinese Amazon consultant for Chinese sellers. He explained to me that in his experience at least 50% of Chinese sellers are using some form of review strategy against Amazon’s terms of service. As Zach described to me, “To many Chinese Amazon sellers, the question of how to succeed on Amazon has a simple answer: reviews equal sales”.

zack franklin - amazon consultant

Zack Franklin, a consultant for Chinese sellers, says that in his experience over 50% of Chinese Sellers are using some type of black-hat review strategy but also stresses that most Chinese sellers would prefer to build real defensible brands without resorting to such strategies.

A Chinese seller’s review strategy can come in one of two varieties: compensating/reimbursing real customers for leaving a positive review, or the more extreme technique of making fake orders and leaving positive reviews through zombie Amazon accounts. Both of these practices of getting reviews were frequent in 2018 and continue in 2019.

amazon fake reviews request

Fake review services, normally from China, aggressively solicit Amazon sellers, even from within Amazon’s Seller Central platform. This is a typical email that many sellers receive several times a week.

Fake review companies (almost always in China) open hundreds or thousands of fake Amazon accounts known as “zombie accounts”. They then emulate “real” customer browsing behavior so as not to arouse Amazon’s suspicions. According to one Chinese selling consultant, who wished to remain anonymous, fake reviews generally start at $3 to $5 depending on how likely or not these fake reviews are to be detected by Amazon.

Of course, outright fake reviews aren’t the only way reviews are manipulated. While Amazon banned incentivized reviews in 2016, the practice still exists in various forms, everything from “rebate clubs” where consumers get rebates (often for a 100% rebate of the purchase price) to compensating consumers for leaving positive reviews in the form of extended warranties and future discounts.

Amazon has taken measures to fight fake reviews by blocking products from receiving any new reviews after they have received a suspicious influx of positive reviews. However, fake reviews continue to be a problem plaguing the platform.

Counterfeit Products and Listing Hijacking

The next malicious way in which Chinese sellers are getting ahead is through offering counterfeit products.

Amazon has a GIANT counterfeit product problem. In it’s earning report earlier in the year, Amazon admitted as much stating “We also may be unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods, selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner, violating the proprietary rights of others, or otherwise violating our policies….In addition…we could face civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities by our sellers.”

The problem largely circles back to the fact that Amazon is a marketplace like eBay that allows multiple sellers to sell the same item. Amazon does not actively audit items sent into its warehouses to determine if they are genuine products or not. Instead, it rests strictly on whether the item has the correct UPC barcode or not. A malicious seller can simply print a fake UPC bar code, apply it to their counterfeit item, and Amazon will deem it to be a genuine product.

This is an issue that we at EcomCrew, as sellers, have experienced firsthand. It’s also one of the problems many members of EcomCrew Premium have experienced as well. One member, Joe Cochran, posted in our private community recently “We’ve battled counterfeit sellers every year since we developed our brand and have lost tens of thousands battling them”

Project Zero Amazon

Amazon recently instituted the Project Zero program which gives sellers greater power to remove counterfeit sellers from their listings.

The issue of counterfeit products, along with fake reviews, is one of the greatest threats to Amazon and they have taken several measures to counter the prevalence of fake products. Amazon implemented the Transparency program in 2018 that gives sellers exclusive and trackable barcodes for its items. Earlier in the year they also rolled out Project Zero which gives sellers greater ability to remove counterfeit sellers from their listings.

While both the Transparency and Project Zero programs are positive steps in the right direction, it does not remove the problem of counterfeits entirely. The onus is still on sellers to monitor their listings and all of the Amazon marketplace to ensure no counterfeiters exist.

Listing Sabotage

Competitor listing sabotage is a frequent strategy used by Chinese sellers.

Because of the way Amazon’s marketplace works (it allows many sellers to use the same listing), it works under a “community contribution” principle (not dissimilar from Wikipedia) where any seller can potentially edit a listing. The premise is that the community will decide the best pictures to describe a product, the description, etc.. Community contributions work most of the time but sometimes malicious actors get out of hand, like when The North Face altered dozens of Wikipedia pages to plug its gear. The same thing happens with Amazon.

other sellers on an Amazon listing

A product on Amazon can have many sellers and each seller can (potentially) have the power to edit that listing.

For instance, during Christmas 2018, a malicious competitor altered nearly every listing of yoga balls on the first page of Amazon’s search results to show a picture of a PlayStation 4 instead of yoga balls. The consequence? Confused customers either chose not to buy the yoga balls at all or, worse, they bought what they thought were PlayStation 4s and received yoga balls instead.

Amazon has a complicated hierarchy for determining what suggested changes are implemented and which are not. Malicious sellers have figured out that Vendor Central clients, i.e. vendors who sell products to Amazon as opposed to on Amazon, have the highest priority. Subsequently, phony Vendor Central accounts are a hot commodity in the world of black market Amazon services selling.

Variation Abuse

On Amazon, a product may have several variations. For example, a shirt may come in several different colors or an Instant Pot may come in different sizes.

variations on amazon

A product on Amazon may have several different variations and often those variations are not closely related to the original listing.

Again, based on the community contribution model, any seller may potentially add a variation to an existing product. This works fine when a seller adds a variation as a customer would expect, such as a different size or color. Where clever sellers are gaming the system is to add a completely different product to ‘absorb the review juice’ from the existing listing.

For example, if I decided to start selling kitchen spatulas I could potentially add my spatula as a different variation to the Instant Pot listing above and it would appear as though my brand new kitchen spatula had 37,970 reviews as, in most cases, Amazon pools reviews across all variations.

Often though, adding a completely different product as a variation to a popular product gets noticed by Amazon and customers pretty quickly. So clever sellers are going so far as to search for discontinued products in Amazon’s catalog with lots of reviews and add their items as variations to these listings so as not to raise any suspicion.

Leaked Competitor Information from Amazon Employees

It became big news in 2018 that Amazon employees in China were selling stolen internal competitor information to other sellers.

This is how it works: mid to senior-ranking employees within Amazon China have direct access to Amazon’s internal network that allows them to access private information related to all sellers. Corrupt Amazon employees will steal a business report of any desired competitor showing information such as how many times a product was viewed over a period, how many times a product was purchased, and the total sales of those items.

stolen amazon reports

An example of a stolen “ASIN report” from Amazon showing private search statistics for a particular product.

Chinese employees will also resell Amazon customer information. This information can be used in a variety of ways –  everything from privately contacting a customer to ask them to remove a negative review in exchange for some type of payoff, all the way up to running advertising campaigns directed towards those customers.

Prices for these reports range widely (invariably the reports are cheaper from Chinese-only websites).  A stolen report can start at $20 per piece while individual customer records can go for $3. As one Chinese reseller of this information described to me (he wished to remain anonymous), the price will depend on the riskiness of that employee accessing that information (i.e. the chances of them getting fired).

leaked amazon reports

Amazon employee leaked reports are still prolific despite Amazon pledging to crack down on them.

After EcomCrew broke the news last year, several mainstream media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, picked up the story and Amazon insisted they would crack down on such leaks, “We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties”.  However, Amazon has not closed the leaks. Numerous resellers still offer this service, as seen on the screenshot above.

Secret “Stealth” Amazon Selling Accounts

Amazon is quick to suspend sellers when it detects behavior that goes against its terms of service. Not only do those sellers lose their ability to sell on Amazon, but they also lose the ability to sell potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars in inventory. Given these risks, many Chinese sellers secretly open several Amazon Seller Central accounts, called “Stealth Accounts” despite this being strictly against Amazon’s terms of service. Having multiple selling accounts gives sellers the ability to take higher risks.

Amazon is very good at detecting multiple selling accounts from a single seller and sellers subsequently go to great lengths to hide the identity of these accounts – many Chinese sellers require their staff to open accounts under their names but under control of their company. These accounts are often even used with separate internet service providers to avoid Amazon detecting any IP sharing.

An associate of mine who previously worked for a large Chinese Amazon seller in the pet industry described it to me this way, “In our company, we literally needed a diagram detailing all of our selling accounts so our staff could keep track of these accounts”.

Sales Tax Evasion & Product Safety

There’s one final area where foreign sellers, including Chinese sellers, were able to gain an upper-hand in 2018: sales tax and product safety.

In June 2018 the Supreme Court ruled, more or less, that sellers could be held liable for collecting sales tax. The ruling seemed to give the green light for Chinese sellers to gain a competitive advantage over their American competitors, by having a lot more flexibility in NOT collecting sales tax (the premise being that enforcing tax collection on Chinese and other international sellers is infinitely more difficult than on American sellers). However, as of this writing, over twenty states have now enacted marketplace facilitator laws putting the burden of collecting sales tax on marketplaces like Amazon. The result is that American sellers are now, more or less, put on a level playing field.

sales tax collection

With most states in 2019 planning to have some type of marketplace facilitator laws, the playing field for American sellers in terms of sales tax has been somewhat leveled.

In terms of product liability, Amazon puts the onus on sellers. Courts have frequently upheld the opinion that Amazon bears no liability in defective items). While Amazon has a requirement for sellers to hold at least $1million in product liability insurance, it’s no secret that Amazon does not enforce this requirement. And once again, it does not take a law degree to realize that an American business with domestic assets is going to be a lot more susceptible to product liability lawsuits than a foreign business, especially a Chinese one.

Amazon has been making some headway in regards to product liability as well. They have now restricted certain categories, most significantly any pesticide-related category, to American sellers only. However, the vast majority of product categories still have no product safety requirements from Amazon.

What Can Amazon Do?

Amazon is largely a victim of its own success. It has provided a platform for tens of thousands of entrepreneurs to make a lot of money off of. And with that surge of cash and opportunity comes the inevitable wave of ill-willed actors.

There are several actionable things that, in my opinion, Amazon could do to help eradicate many of the problems addressed in this article:

  • Institute Project Zero for all Brand Registered sellers
  • Allow more frequent brand-gating for Brand Registered sellers who experience high rates of counterfeit sellers
  • Give sellers more insight into search history and product performance to eliminate the black market for stolen reports
  • Do not allow listing contributions from anyone but the Brand Registered owners of products
  • Remove the expensive Trademark requirement for Brand Registry to allow smaller brands to more affordably protect their brand

These are five steps that can be implemented relatively easily, which would not only give non-Chinese sellers a more level playing field but also improve the customer experience.


It’s important at this juncture to point out that gaming Amazon is not a tactic exclusive to Chinese sellers. Anyone who has sold on Amazon long enough knows that sellers employing questionable selling tactics bear all types of passports. I’ve personally met many of them from nearly every continent in the world. As Zach Franklin emphasized, “Most [Chinese] sellers I know just want to build a real, defensible brand. They’re hiring better designers and copywriters, building a real presence off of Amazon, trying out influencer marketing, Adwords, and Facebook. They want to do things in the right way and they’re working from 9 am – 9 pm, 6 days a week to do it”. 

Amazon seemingly allows nearly any selling strategy to slide until a wave of negative press arrives that threatens its revenues. As one Chinese service provider described to me, “Amazon turns a blind eye to the leaking of competitor data from employees. It doesn’t hurt them”. Amazon bills itself as “Earth’s Most Customer- centric Company” which often comes at the expense of sellers. However, seller interests and customers are also frequently aligned. Unscrupulous sellers employing fake reviews and selling counterfeit products help neither customers or well-behaved sellers. 

If you’re a seller, have you been a victim of any of the strategies discussed here? If you’re an Amazon customer, have you ever experienced fake reviews or counterfeit products?

  • About The Author: Dave Bryant

    Dave Bryant has been importing from China for over 10 years and has started numerous product brands. He sold his multi-million dollar ecommerce business in 2016 and create another 7-figure business within 18 months. He's also a former Amazon warehouse employee of one week.

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  • anon
    August 28, 2018 Reply

    It’s really easy for the Chinese to make new accounts. This company has over 50 accounts.

    • Dave Bryant
      August 28, 2018 Reply

      Yep - that's part of the problem. It's incredibly hard for American sellers to have multiple accounts and incredibly easy for Chinese.

      • Jackery
        November 22, 2018 Reply

        I am an American and it is not hard at all to do what they do, It's incredibly easy, people are stupid and that will always make money lots of money. If any of you were suspended and need an account to buy to start selling again hit me up. I can make you high limit accounts on any selling platform.

  • Brad Bernhart
    August 30, 2018 Reply

    Great Article David. Hopefully this is the start of some viral negative press on this subject and Amazon will end up doing something about it.

    • Dave Bryant
      August 30, 2018 Reply


  • Andy
    August 30, 2018 Reply

    Go and look at Bark Collars Over 40 sellers using fake reviews on more than 100 listings they are reported to Amazon EVERYDAY, and have been for over 6 months. AMAZONS RESPONSE... NOTHING...
    It is FRAUD on s Massive Scale... And Amazon are Knowingly Aiding and Abeiting in it...

    • Dave Bryant
      August 30, 2018 Reply

      That's crazy - some categories are definitely hit harder than others with the fake reviews problem.

  • cory
    August 30, 2018 Reply

    How do I buy one of these ASIN reports for my own product??

    • Dave Bryant
      August 30, 2018 Reply

      Hi Cory - I'll email you privately through Premium.

      • Andres
        August 30, 2018 Reply

        Hi Dave, I'm also interested in buying a report. Can you send me the info? Thanks

        • Dave Bryant
          August 30, 2018 Reply

          Hi Andres - if you're a Premium member you can email us to the members email.

      • Jen
        January 13, 2020 Reply

        Wow, extremely thorough article--answered every question I had and gave me a lot more great information besides. Thanks!

  • Troy Hibberd
    September 5, 2018 Reply

    Great article Dave. A real eye opener. Makes it very hard for honest sellers to compete I think.

    • Dave Bryant
      September 5, 2018 Reply

      Thanks Troy - hopefully Amazon levels the playing field and does something about this type of stuff.

  • Nick Plagman
    September 14, 2018 Reply

    I was glad to come across this post, but this is just the tip of the iceberg; the Chinese have destroyed Amazon, just like they did to eBay. I was a Top 1000 Amazon reviewer (I've dropped to 1,200 since giving up on Amazon), and for 2 years I've been bombarded daily with requests from the Chinese to "honest review" their crap.

    You've missed some important points, though. Not only are they guilty of everything you've mentioned, but they also violate every term of service Amazon has that was supposed to make Amazon the most customer-friendly platform. The Chinese solicit fake reviews, make some sales, then when the real/negative reviews pile up and sales slow, they just duplicate the listing and start over. They have countless listings of the same crap with countless accounts.

    And in October 2016, to combat the incentivized reviews, Amazon came up with the verified purchase tag. So whereas before, at least people could identify the BS reviews by the disclaimer, now every fake review has the verified purchase label because they have their fake reviewers buy the item legitimately, then reimburse them through paypal.

    And perhaps worst of all is that ALL of these products that come straight from China (ie with no American brand as the middleman) are garbage. I've received 100s of them - all pure garbage. I assume they're able to make a profit because not enough people are returning their crap. I do, but I make so many returns that now I have to be worried my account will be closed because of it. I take video of every piece of crap I return as evidence that it's garbage, but if my account is auto-banned, you think Amazon is going to take the time to hear me out? Of course not. They don't care.

    Another point - the Chinese sellers with their countless accounts promise 12, 18, 24 month guaranteed warranties, but when the item sells out, they abandon it. They're not going to ship more of it to an Amazon warehouse to be sold under a listing that's been poisoned by honest, negative reviews, they'll start over under another "brand." So good luck getting a replacement or refund 8 months after your purchase.

    This disgusts me to no end because Amazon was my go to, and now I can't buy anything from it. It takes too long to sift through the 45 listings of the same product to figure out which one's legit (if any). I hadn't been to a retail store in like 5 years, but the "world's most customer-centric" ecommerce giant has become such a scam that they've driven me to brick and mortar stores. Walmart.com is just as compromised. Monoprice was safe, but now they're putting their name on Chinese crap.

    Contact me if you'd like any info or evidence of anything I've mentioned.

    • Dave Bryant
      September 15, 2018 Reply

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for the detailed comment. Unfortunately I echo a lot of the sentiment you mentioned here that Amazon is slowly losing control of the platform. This isn't strictly a Chinese problem - as long as such heavy values are placed on reviews there are going to be people from EVERYWHERE looking to manipulate this weakness.

    • Jan
      September 14, 2019 Reply

      My thoughts extractly, I have given up on buying crap from Chinese sellers on Amazon and Walmart, as I write I'm going to my neighborhood MALL SHOP to buy shoes and drapes. Amazon will loose customers one at time just like the gambling Casinos eventually no one will be buying crap from Amazon you'll see.

    • OS
      October 3, 2019 Reply

      Thank you. I appreciate the article, and Nick's comment, because I feel exactly the same. I've given up on Amazon for anything other than e-books. I can't stand wading through this swamp of ill-designed and poorly made garbage that just appears over and over and over again under different sellers' names. It's just the Wild West now, and there's a snake-oil salesman on every corner in town. Amazon has lost two more customers (my wife and I) until it pulls its act back together again. I've bought too many pieces of useless junk, even after carefully reading reviews and descriptions and hunting through the fifty different variations of the same product.

      And there is a lot of emphasis, as the author has said, placed on reviews. But the problem is that buyers are aware that they can't trust the product description or even the photos. (Honestly, the photos! Just a short time ago I was laughing at a listing for a "garden lantern" that looked about four inches tall in one photo, where it had been photoshopped hanging from a tiny tree branch; and then looked four feet high, where it had been photoshopped onto a street next to a public rubbish bin. The actual product is just under a foot tall according to the details.) For a while, it seemed as though reviews were a better way to understand what you were really getting. Unfortunately, with all of the false reviews, it's just a mug's game now. You have to shop with a constant air of suspicion and inspect every single detail of a product. And even then there's no guarantee that you'll get what you hoped you would. Who has time for that?

      And no, it isn't ONLY China manipulating it, but Chinese manufacturing has a lot to do with it. Most of the goods we buy these days — many of which are perfectly legitimate! — are being manufactured in China. The manufacturing output there is enormous, and low-cost. But once you remove the need for a commercial buyer to inspect the product and decide if it is worthy of being sold by their retailer (never mind a designer who actually cares about the quality of their design!) you lose the gatekeepers. These sellers don't care if it's garbage or not. As long as it sells. As has been pointed out, there are few consequences for breaking the TOS, and what consequences there are are merely looked on as obstacles to overcome. And there are no legal consequences whatsoever for many foreign sellers. So yes, the seller could be from anywhere, but the flood of poorly made plastic rubbish that fuels this opportunism is mainly coming from China.

      There are plenty of great things being manufactured in China, and other low-cost sectors like Vietnam and Malaysia. The computer I'm typing on right now for example. The chair I'm sitting in. And I can appreciate the fact that the only reason most of us can afford to buy things like Apple products is due to inexpensive Chinese labour. But there needs to be oversight for quality (not to mention fair practice in sales). Amazon has become the seedy Dollar Store of online retailers, and I'm done with it.

    • Vince
      April 10, 2020 Reply

      Thank you for your well-written addition to this great article.

  • Jon Payne
    September 17, 2018 Reply

    Hi Guys. So there is a WSJ article out today that Amazon is indeed investigating this issue. I'll include a link here to another source as well as the WSJ article is behind a pay wall: https://www.engadget.com/2018/09/16/amazon-looks-into-reports-of-staff-leaking-data-to-merchants/

    Not sure if this will totally resolve the issue or not (likely not) but it should at least curb it and make it more difficult/expensive for these sellers to acquire that information.

    • Dave Bryant
      September 18, 2018 Reply

      Thanks Jon - I spoke to Jon Enmont from the WSJ at length before he published. Somehow I suspect Amazon is mostly turning lipservice to the issue right now.

  • Mark
    October 2, 2018 Reply

    Excellent article Dave. It seems to me for now the best we can do is also access those reports. How do I get a lead to the vendors of those reports?

    • Dave Bryant
      October 6, 2018 Reply

      There's links in the article.

  • Garry
    October 8, 2018 Reply

    Hi, I want to ask if I don't live in US, and don't selling on amazon. Do I still get value by joining Ecomcrew premium? Thankyou :)

    • Dave Bryant
      October 10, 2018 Reply

      Hi Garry - yes of course. About half of our members are not from America (including me :))

  • James
    October 10, 2018 Reply

    No matter what i buy, if i have a choice, i NEVER buy Chinese products!!!

    • Dave Bryant
      October 11, 2018 Reply

      There's lots of good Chinese products, and lots of crappy ones. Same as other countries. Their sample size is just bigger :)

      • Malaki
        August 11, 2019 Reply

        No there are no good quality Chinese goods, they just are unable to do anything of quality, no matter how much they copy, they just are not able to do so.

        • Dave Bryant
          August 18, 2019 Reply


          • jtsavage
            February 4, 2021

            Apple contracts the labor to the Chinese. They follow specs. That doesn’t make the Iphone Chinese. They aren’t the engineers and they aren’t Apple. The reputation of Chinese dollar store quality has degraded so much, they now resort to using Japanese names to falsely pass their stuff off as Japanese. Just like all the sushi places are run by Chinese who pass themselves off as Japanese sushi chefs.

  • Hamza B.
    October 15, 2018 Reply

    As a Senior Amazon Account Manager in one the biggest cross border e-commerce companies in China, I couldn't agree more with your posts.

    There is, in fact, a lot of grey areas that Chinese Amazon Sellers take advantage of to develop their sales, and part of it is related in your posts. Chinese e-commerce companies approaches E-commerce from a Mechanic standpoint, in which "the game" is conceived trough numbers and processes rather than brand and value.

    But e-commerce, as most technology businesses, is a winner takes all game. I believe that sellers who stick to providing value to their customers in an ethical way will eventually breakthrough and establish their brand as references in this new digital era. On the other hand, Chinese companies are exhausting their model. They already suffer from serious limitations in developing brand-oriented companies.

    • Dave Bryant
      October 19, 2018 Reply

      Thank you Hamza for the great insight from someone who obviously has a lot of experience!

  • JB
    November 22, 2018 Reply

    I think maybe there is a new scam. I bought an umbrella that was supposed to be great. Fell apart after a few month. So, went back & left a negative review. Was contacted by the company and asked how they could make it up to me. They could issue a full refund or send me a new umbrella. I opted for the new umbrella. They asked if I wouldn’t mind amending or deleting my review once I got the new one, which I said was fine. I’m thinking this is good customer service, offering to send a new one. But, that was only last week and I am out of town for Thanksgiving so haven’t received it yet as I’m not home. Received an email from the same “customer service rep” saying that she noticed I haven’t changed the review. She is telling me her boss is going to fire her and her husband died, she has two kids. I asked for her boss’s email because I’d like to have a word with him as it isn’t her fault that he is selling a damaged item. She said he is away on business. I said , well, then I will contact Amazon because I’m sure they don’t want to be represented by a business whose owner threatens an employee for something that they didn’t do. She now just got back to me and ask me not to because her boss really is a good person. What do I do?? Be a sucker or be a hard ass and then the story ends up being true and I get a woman w/2 kids fired??

    • Dave Bryant
      November 29, 2018 Reply

      I suspect she's not in any jeopardy of being fired so you don't need to be too kind :-)

    • Nick
      December 5, 2018 Reply

      They're all liars, JB. I've heard the "going to be fired" line a million times. Couple days ago I got an email wanting "honest" reviews (ie 5 stars) to help her small business as she's a single mother with 6 kids. Mmhmm. They'll do and say anything to make a sale. Once one of them figured out a QC sticker makes us think there's quality control, they all started sticking them on there. Keywords like "guaranteed"; like that other guy said, it's all a numbers game. They make two new brands every time one gets shut down. Or more likely, gets flooded with negative reviews so they start over with a new "brand" name (on Amazon).

      • Dave Bryant
        December 5, 2018 Reply

        lying or not, the QC sticker thing is pretty clever!

        • Flor
          April 3, 2020 Reply

          The majority of these people are BIG LIARS. They use disgusting tactics such as: "I will lose my job, I have kids, I am a single mother with 8 kids and others " so you feel sorry for them, and do not take any actions against them, so in the end, they get what they want. These people are users. And these tactics should not be considered by any means as clever, they are UNETHICAL, REPUGNANT and very SAD. They are also killing the others seller on Amazon and other platforms by placing their prices way lower than their competitors. I don't even know how they make a profit. I guess that they are only looking to make a couple of dollars. The truth is that They are destroying the hard work that other sellers are putting on their products and listing. Amazon has to do something about it.

  • Jeremiah
    January 24, 2019 Reply

    Thank you for posting the article.
    I just saw this article , but I think I need to tell you that China South City (华南城), 华南城 is not a company, that is the location of those big cross border ecommerce business located, yes, in SHENZHEN, that is where I live and also doing business, kind of thrilled to know that people have eventually noticed that, can I have your email , please?

    • Dave Bryant
      February 1, 2019 Reply

      Hi Jeremiah, Thanks for the heads up. You can contact us at [email protected]

  • Dale
    April 3, 2019 Reply

    If the item I want is going to take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive, I don't buy it. Nothing and I mean nothing can be shipped from China and delivered to Anywhere, USA within 2-3 days unless you are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for special shipping. I say all this because I see some Chinese sellers attempting to conceal they are Chinese and based in China. This is probably due to some buyers will not buy Chinese products no matter what, so they disguise their store name(s) and in some cases give little to no information in order to make sales to these buyers. However, when it takes an entire month to arrive, there is a 99.99% chance your item is coming from China.

    • Dave Bryant
      April 5, 2019 Reply

      Yes, agreed, there is no cost-effective way to ship quickly from China.

    • Greg
      November 21, 2019 Reply

      Hi, You have a very good point about a common problem from China Sellers. It would be great, If under the title of a listing or somewhere on the top of the page, It had the sellers origin. It literally states the seller is from China, America or where ever. I personally would buy from an American seller over a china seller, period!

      • Dave Bryant
        November 24, 2019 Reply

        They could make it easier to view a seller's profile. Don't think I'd do it on a listing page though.

  • Jamie
    June 17, 2019 Reply

    I think it was Kevin King that mentioned, no listing above 10000 BSR is at risk of being hijacked or screwed with, but I wonder whether that's going to change.
    I also wonder whether the enforcement of product liability insurances for all pro accounts would effectively sort the men out from the boys as the saying goes. The only issue here, is it's a dragnet that would catch thousands of sellers completely by surprise & revenue ( commissions) would plummet. ha!

    • Dave Bryant
      June 20, 2019 Reply

      Yes, that's the problem with product liability insurance. It would effectively reduce the competition on Amazon by a huge amount. I don't think there is a hard number for level of BSR not being affected by ill actors, but I agree the most popular products Amazon is more active with on preventing these things.

  • Michael Brennan
    July 18, 2019 Reply

    Let's face it, Amazon, like you say, don't give a f*** as long as the money still goes ker-chink in the Bezos Piggy Bank. I am sick and tired of seeing crap or fake Chinese products at the top of every electrical product I search for. I have now decided not to buy any third party product from Amazon as I feel neither they nor the seller can be trusted. most Chinese Tat can be detected at the ebginning. They always use the same typeset in product description, their reviews are all 5 stars but written in poor English and they all mentioned ease of use, good quality, simple instructions etc. Often when you filter out the unverified reviews, 99% of the 5 star reviews disappear. I sued to point this out to amazon but never received a response and when I mentioned the problem in reviews on products they refused to post them.

  • Argnit Vranovci
    July 24, 2019 Reply

    Nice article

    • Dave Bryant
      July 24, 2019 Reply


  • Richard
    July 29, 2019 Reply

    I have had my best selling items on Amazon hijacked by Chinese sellers and I reported it several months ago and nothing has happened. I’ve got 5 star review items changed to something completely different with negative reviews now rolling in. For some reason Amazon can not comprehend what’s going on. I no longer shop on Amazon.

    • Dave Bryant
      July 31, 2019 Reply

      Review credibility is a big threat to Amazon.

  • Peter
    August 8, 2019 Reply

    Do you have any contacts of Amazon insiders who will delete bad reviews for payment?

    • Dave Bryant
      August 15, 2019 Reply

      Nope, but there's services out there who offer it. Last time I seen prices, the prices were close to $1000 each though.

  • Michael Miller
    October 16, 2019 Reply

    Though it was only a small order, it highlights the way Chinese sellers circumvent rules and how Amazon does little or nothing to change them.
    I'm a UK buyer and I purchased an HDMI extender. The delivery date was for three days. On the third day, it didn't arrive so I went into Amazon to find out why and to cancel my order as I needed it.
    As soon as I did this, a minute or two later the seller wrote to say it has just been dispatched (very convenient- for them).
    I complained.
    Amazon did nothing.
    I have ot wait until it arrives in a month for a refund- and they may not acknowledge it has been returned so I won't get my money.

    • Dave Bryant
      October 17, 2019 Reply

      Sorry to hear!

  • don allen
    November 27, 2019 Reply

    Just reading through this, I've realized I'm like a freaking heroin addict with the "just one more" (order) from amazon for my business. Their employees are treated like crap. The entire marketplace is overrun with foreign sellers that violate IP, copyright, and wallets of sheep that think they're buying from "amazon" for a 3 year warranty on some POS with fabricated RoHS, FFC, UL and of course QC labels.

    In addition to the QC, don't forget the "FDA Approved", "As Seen on Shark Tank", "3rd Party Lab validated" and any other lies that 95% of the "Americans" swallow--backed with a $150 a year products liability policy that wouldn't cover bumper stickers and t-shirts.

    The latest is to find successful businesses that want nothing to do with big river and replicate their products, IP, trademarks, etc. and then let the Jeffy B machine take over adwords-- jacking up CPC's on trademarked keywords 1000% (not only bidding on them...but using them like their the company in their amazon ads) with 10/10 relevancy hijacked campaigns--lure in to "out of stock" branded products that don't even exist on Amazon,...only to Recommend the Amazon alternative. Reviews go in the tank and then spin up the next brand that even sounds sketchy af.

    The only ones winning are the foreigners and big river. shop touts being an anti river alternative, but their platform is getting overtaken by the same idiots, playing the same b.s. games, plus the unethical group of app developers that just want access to customer and sales data that they can sell to the idiots.

    The whole things going to eventually blow up, just a matter of time. If people only knew the amount of stuff being sold by foreign sellers that are avoiding taxes, paying $.50 cents to ship something from Shenzhen China to New York (lmao), while "guaranteeing" 3 day shipping. The .50 cent e packet fisting will eventually end, but really....making a huge "to-do" about signing out of the international postal unions foreign gravy train and then quietly announcing it will go into effect 15 months from now? lmao. Meanwhile cuppertino not feeling the tariffs and half of walton dot com is shenzhen sellers. You can't even find products available in store, without spending 15 minutes filtering out the pseudo- craigslist garage-sale.
    And on a final note... who doesn't love the big river holiday "feel good" commercials. lmao. Brings a twinkle to my eye knowing that some poor soul will have back spasms for the rest of their life from fulfilling 1m orders in 24 hours, While the box on the tv is smiling and grandma is opening up the knockoffs. Just look out your window and if timing is right, you'll see the dodge sprinter going by with a massive vape cloud billowing out the window like cheech and chong, except going 60mph in a 15.

    • JM
      March 1, 2020 Reply

      Hi Don,
      Laughing so hard reading your comment because everything you've said is so true mixed with your humor has made my day. And then there is the other side of the coin that this whole think sickens me to see how so many American businesses and consumers are suffering in multiple ways as a result.

      I do believe that people will eventually get to the point I have of avoiding Amazon and Walmart online purchases as much as possible. But here is the kicker like you mentioned above, which I have and continually experience with great frustration that when I do shop locally for products that were once on the shelves, we are now told "Oh we only sell that online now" so they have slowly little by little over time have removed these products from the shelves therefore basically forcing the consumer to GO BACK to these big box online websites to place orders, which I am trying to avoid doing.

      And to make this worse when I then go to other local stores I'm told the same thing, Target, Walmart etc...so this is where we are at and what we're left with. Like I told a coworker recently regarding this topic we are slowly being molded the consumers into the unfortunate characters in the movie Wall-e. Over weight, gliding, staring at their screens and sipping their drinks not really interacting with each other. Love the Cheech & Chong comment...


      • Vince
        April 10, 2020 Reply

        Very unfortunate to hear. I am here right now because I am shopping for a product and I'm trying to find a product listing that has an item with good quality and honest reviews. Not happening on amazon. I am beginning to Google my search now, and will eventually find one, but I miss the days of when Amazon was the go to place for great reviews and great products. Now the only products listed are Chinese, and while I have no issues with China in general, and while they definitely are capable of making great products, I also like being able to choose from a variety of sellers with real reviews.

    • Vince
      April 10, 2020 Reply

      Well said, thank you for adding many great points to this already great article.

      Well nothing to do with you at all, but I think I just accidentally spammed this comment section with so many replies. Was not my intention. Sorry about that Dave!

      • Dave Bryant
        April 25, 2020 Reply

        You're welcome!

  • Una O Sullivan
    December 16, 2019 Reply

    I thought I wanted to open up on Amazon but after reading this I'm not sure any more

    • Dave Bryant
      December 30, 2019 Reply

      It's still worth it despite all this :)

  • Ryan
    January 18, 2020 Reply

    Chinese sellers have figured out a way not to pay the 25% tariffs on most products. And now all the money is going from the US economy to China by letting Chinese sellers sell directly in the US market.

  • Curtis Boyd
    January 24, 2020 Reply

    Really great article. Our company (review fraud software) was just hired as an expert witness to appear in court - to show evidence of review fraud by the chinese firm on Amazon. It's a huge issue and only getting worse.

    • Dave Bryant
      February 14, 2020 Reply

      It definitely is!

  • Barry Hobbs
    April 4, 2020 Reply

    Chinese absolutely crap products and that is all it is, does not last 5 minutes before it breaks, so therefor it´s no longer cheap.
    We as a nation should start producing our own again.
    I always remember when items had the made in Gr Britain on.
    To prove the point, I have power tools that were made in the 70s and are still going now and have been used on a daily basis.

  • Vince
    April 10, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for publishing this well-written, informative, and thoroughly organized article. From a layperson's perspective on the outside, nothing has changed in 2020. It continues to get worse, and it's challenging trying to buy any product lately. The saying says all good things come to an end. I think amazon is pretty much ruined! This has been going on for years, so they aren't going to do anything significant about it. Disappointing, but life goes on. Shopping is a little more complicated now.

    • Dave Bryant
      April 25, 2020 Reply

      Time will tell!

  • CK
    June 14, 2020 Reply

    Very good article. Why can't Amazon (and Ebay) require that Country Of Origin be part of all listings? It's legally required on packaging. I've already returned things when it arrives "Made In China". Somebody may WANT to only buy from china. I can't imagine who that would be. I won't by china now but Amazon (and Ebay) make it impossible to learn the sources. That's why I return them as they arrive.
    2. Why do we, as a country, continue to subsidize China Post? They can only ship cheap junk if we pay THEM to ship it here.
    In re reviews, I've found Amazon products for which all the 5 star reviews were for a completely different product. Obviously china has found a way to forge reviews.
    Finally Change.org has a petition started to require Country of Origin in listings titled:
    "Amazon: Allow Users to Filter by Made in USA, and Require Country of Origin"

    • Dave Bryant
      July 3, 2020 Reply

      Just assume it's made in China :P

    • Carmen Leung
      December 6, 2020 Reply

      Depending what you're buying really. And who made it 1st. Porcelain is a Chinese product and has been counterfeited by Western Europe in the past. Counterfeiting products go both ways. Its just that when China finally got into the game, everyone else cried foul. Counterfeit Chinese furniture. Western made but made to look like it came from China. Of course this was ages ago before the advent of technology and the internet. Ahem make that centuries ago during Yuen dynasty.

      When buying china, I buy made in China because I can get quality at cost since the reality is that it is mostly all made in China and heavily marked up.
      As for paper, I choose either made in Canada or China. India sucks at it.

  • Chris
    November 12, 2020 Reply

    I reported to Amazon a listing that was changing the product on the same ASIN (listing ID) so that it had over 2000 reviews raving about how good it tasted (it is plastic) or how good the condoms were etc etc. I think there around 10 products being reviewed.

    I have so far reported it 8 times and each time Amazon takes he reviews down only for them to appear a day later.

    What a joke.

    • Dave Bryant
      December 10, 2020 Reply

      Sorry to hear!

  • John
    January 11, 2021 Reply

    Amazon has allowed Chinese sellers to take over my product listings completely and Amazon won't help. I am at a total loss. Built my art business over 3 years on Amazon, have over 400 positive reviews and took great care of my customers providing them great product made in America. All of a sudden our listing as a seller was replaced by a Chinese seller. Our name as a seller has been deleted. We tried reporting it to Amazon and nothing is working. Amazon literally does not care! Currently, I have been REMOVED as a seller on my listings and these fraud sellers have taken 100% control in selling the merchandise with shipping times of 4-8 weeks. They even removed my signature from the images of the artwork. Amazon is telling us we need to pay them $3000 to have their attorneys approve trademark of my product which I own, created and produce in the USA. $3,000 to these Amazon corporate corrupt attorneys who are likely going to take the money and run. I'm at a loss. No idea what to do.

    • Dave Bryant
      February 2, 2021 Reply

      Sounds like this a combination of listing hijackings and potentially some other confusion (Amazon wouldn't request $3000 from you).

  • Cheung
    March 31, 2021 Reply

    Hello Dave

    When I see your article, I think I should participate in comments.

    I have a question, I think there are good people and bad people around the world, do you agree with this view?

    Suppose there is a team of 10 people, there are 1 people who crimes, and everyone thinks that the 10 people in this team are all guilty. Is this not a prejudice?

    I am also a Chinese seller, but I must explain that, like most Chinese sellers, we attach great importance to business reputation, we hate those bad sellers more than anyone.

    However, we must face this phenomenon. In fact, such despicable sellers are not completely from China, they are from any country.

    I am very disgusted these people's way of business, but I am not a judge, I don't have the right to punish them. However, I believe that they will eventually pay for this.

    I want to make some suggestions and examples:

    1、The quality of the goods and the price of goods is relatively, the manufacture of goods, store operating costs, logistics and transportation costs determine the price of goods. Don't expect inexpensive prices to buy absolute quality products, we should maintain a normal heart to the goods. I think that attempts to buy goods worth 50 US dollars with $ 1, this is absolutely impossible.

    2、China has created a lot of high-quality products, as long as you know how to choose, these products are still a good choice in life. If someone insists that the use of China's products is a bad behavior, I think this is discrimination against Chinese products, this idea has surpassed the simple view of the product, even rising to a more complex cognitive level.

    I have to say some facts that you have never been understood, and the sellers in any country exist, seeking the Chinese factory to customize the product of the products, and then sell the product to people. No one can accuse these sellers wrong, they just trade for their own livelihoods and benefits. Trade is a benign of mutual benefit.

    Of course, Chinese sellers also often seek factory custom products in other countries. We must respect a fact that the product is just a very pure item, no one should use it as a satirical excuse.

    Most buyers are just civilians, choose the right product is the most wise choice in life. We are not a millionaire, we can only purchase products according to their own economic conditions, rather than choose the product according to the country.

    3、the original price of the product is not high, Chinese sellers use the economy logistics to serve the product, we all know that the economy's logistics speed is slow, but do you know why we still choose economic logistics as a way of transportation?

    Because we know that the increase in transportation will lead to price increase in product sales.

    If the product price increase, this will damage the interests of the buyer. However, buyers don't understand the seller's kindness, will only blame the seller to use ordinary logistics.

    Do you need a quick way to transport? DHL, FedEx will be the best choice. But do you know that they charge a quote? If you insist on choosing this fast transportation, you must pay these fees to DHL or FedEx, because this is the costs they charge.

    Why push these questions to China sellers? They are not God, they have no way to control the price of DHL, they can't pay these high shipping costs for buyers.

    If you are a seller, assume that the buyer has purchased a 10 dollar product, but they asked you to give a $ 200 DHL fast transport, do you think so reasonable?

    Any mistakes cannot be unilaterally caused, and the problems in Amazon are absolutely not just the reasons for the seller.

    Not all Chinese sellers are liar, not all Chinese products are not good. Chinese sellers also hate the liar, disrupt the "scum" of the market business order, no matter which country he comes from, we should boycott.

    If there is a chance, I am looking forward to one day, everyone can personally see the real situation in China.

    • Dave Bryant
      April 7, 2021 Reply

      Very well said. Manipulating Amazon, selling inferior quality products, etc. is by no means a Chinese problem. For better or worse though, selling in a country such as China where international agreements/politics make it very hard o prosecute any individual here affords a Chinese seller many more protections than someone, for instance, in the U.S. or even Canada where there are more bilateral agreements making prosecution easier.

  • Ken
    April 12, 2021 Reply

    I just want to say that I found this article as a consumer; I'm so frustrated with the lack of quality on Amazon, how they prey on the American consumer. I honestly see no value in Amazon as a business anymore, and I've had an account since 2006.

  • Mauricio
    April 13, 2021 Reply

    I think that with this Chinese invasion this time on the Amazon, American and non-Chinese consumers should stop buying, in a big boycott. That way, Amazon and the Chinese could better enjoy their love relationship. I know this is difficult, but it would be interesting to see what Amazon would do with this scenario. As far as I know only chinese citizens can sell on their platforms, like Aliexpress and Tao Bao, but all chinese citizens can sell on non-china platforms, this has to change.

    • Dave Bryant
      May 5, 2021 Reply

      Agreed - there's no open access to Chinese markets but there is to American markets. This is one of the reasons why there's a trade war right now.

  • Joanna
    May 29, 2021 Reply

    This is a great article, thank you!

    One other thing I have noticed is that Chinese companies are using American addresses to look like domestic companies, but these addresses are really just apartments or totally unrelated businesses. I hate Amazon now, I used to love it. It's so inconvenient to find other sources for products, but I'm really making an effort not to buy from them at all.

    • Dave Bryant
      July 6, 2021 Reply

      Yup - many have U.S. addresses and sometimes even LLCs

  • Adam
    June 15, 2021 Reply

    Great article... add to this Chinese suppliers on Alibaba are now the Amazon sellers themselves... they raise their prices, so you have no profit when you sell as the same prices on Amazon... and of course, if you raise your price on Amazon, you’ll lose to your Chinese competitors who sell the exact same products! Just today one of these suppliers told me that I can’t sell their product on Amazon because another seller has exclusive rights!!!!
    And about the delay in delivering goods, they now use FBA, so no problem at all!

    I wonder what can we do as third party sellers? Are we starting the death of private labeling?!

    • Dave Bryant
      July 6, 2021 Reply

      Yup - definitely many sellers with Alibaba shops also sell on Amazon. IP is becoming more and more important.

  • Alicia
    June 16, 2021 Reply

    Hi, this is a very interesting article, thank you! Do you have any thoughts on Chinese companies selling products manufactured with the use of forced labour? As a consumer, I have no way of knowing what I'm buying. Is there a push for any screening to be done by Amazon?

    • Dave Bryant
      July 6, 2021 Reply

      There's already restrictions on by many countries on products coming out of Xinjiang.

  • Ken Jones
    August 3, 2021 Reply

    Yes, we are getting killed by a Chinese competitor right now. It's extremely frustrating to say the least. Our main product line is baby bibs. A competitor copied our product design (even stole and manipulated our logo mark), then proceeded to gather over 700 reviews in a few months... yeah, that doesn't happen. Sorry, nobody is that excited about baby bibs! They then made around 2 dozen listings of the same item (moving around the color variations to make it look like a new product listing). They have essentially taken over Page 1 search results for many of our top keywords... even pushing our product on to Page 2 in some instances. To put things in perspective, we've been selling for several years and our top selling baby bib set has a little over 500 reviews. All we can do is continue to improve our product line and hope Amazon cracks down on the cheaters at some point in the near future. It's ruining Amazon for everyone.

    • Dave Bryant
      August 17, 2021 Reply

      Sorry to hear!

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