New Amazon sellers now have to verify their identities over video chat

New merchants who want to sell their wares on Amazon will be subject to a video call to verify their identity, the company said Sunday.

The plan — meant to counter fraud while in-person meetings are impossible during the coronavirus pandemic — is Amazon’s latest effort to police conterfeits and allegedly unsafe products on its platform. The e-commerce juggernaut’s digital shelves are rife with fakes that have frustrated brands like Apple and Nike, and discouraged some from selling via Amazon altogether.

The new verification process began earlier this year, according to Amazon, and initially included in-person meetings with wannabe sellers. But the program shifted to be exclusively digital after the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe in recent months.

The interview vetting, on top of other risk-screening performed by Amazon, has been piloted with more than 1,000 merchant applicants based in China, the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, Amazon said.

The extra scrutiny by Amazon could make it harder for some China-based sellers, who have registered multiple accounts using private internet networks or fake utility bills. China-based merchants accounted for 40 percent of the top 10,000 Amazon sellers in Europe, according to 2019 research from firm Marketplace Pulse.

The changes to the verification process come as Amazon has lifted a ban on third-party sellers shipping non-essential items to Amazon’s warehouses, and as the company sees sky-high demand for goods while customers around the world are locked indoors.

Shares of Amazon were flat Monday morning, and are up more than 25 percent in the past month, trading at $2,411.64.

With Post wires

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