The Wall Street Journal has published a lengthy look at Amazon’s years-long effort to bring products directly from Chinese factories to me and you, the American consumer. How has this effort turned out?
Well, the title of the article is “Amazon’s Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Sellers Puts Consumers at Risk.” So … maybe good for The House That Jeff Built, but kinda bad for consumers!
This is another example of the Journal giving Amazon the business recently. Only a few weeks ago it reported that the company stubbornly lists for sale lots of clothing produced in Bangladeshi factories that even competitors like Walmart shun because of chronic violations of basic safety standards. And in August, the Journal detailed how little oversight the company has over the products sold on its platform, which results in “thousands of banned, unsafe or mislabeled products” floating around on there. The paper itself found more than 10,000 such items on the site between June and August.
And now comes today’s story. The paper reports that out of nearly 2,000 sellers of problematic items (whose addresses could be determined), more than half were based in China.
That’s the result of Amazon’s effort to “cut out the middleman” between Chinese manufacturers and America’s online shoppers.
That was the sales pitch an Amazon representative made this year at a trade event in Hong Kong … but it’s not an accurate description of what the company has been selling to the Chinese manufacturers it’s recruiting. The Journal cites another Amazonian who was much more on the nose in 2017 when she told a conference audience of Chinese business people: “We help factories directly open accounts on Amazon and sell to U.S. consumers directly. This is our value.”
These pitches appear to have been effective. Amazon doesn’t require its sellers to list where they’re located (or share that information), but the Journal cites an outside analysis of the 10,000 most-reviewed Amazon sellers that found approximately 38% of them are now located in China … a percentage that has increased steadily since Amazon began recruiting Chinese sellers in 2013.More ...