Amazon is the world’s largest online marketplace where people from all around the world shop for apparel, footwear, sports, electronics, electric, and a whole assortment of other items. However, the thought of being in the middle of fake product maker shenanigans when you land on the website can be scary.
You take brand name and low price as two crucial factors at the time of buying, but you have to agree that customer reviews are the last signal that convinces you to buy something. There’s nothing more trustable for a consumer than the words coming from another consumer. But what if you find out that the reviews you are reading are not real?
The Issue of Fake Reviews on Amazon
First thing to get out of the way is that this is no fake news— fake reviews do exist. A Buzzfeed story covers how there is an industry of fake reviewers who get paid for writing things they shouldn’t write. It is important to know here that there are two faces of this problem.
One, legitimate companies are paying people to review their products and since they incentivize the effort, a user naturally writes a positive review even if he has never tried the product. Two, rip-off companies make fake products, buy fake reviews, get ranked high on Amazon and outsell the original product makers. It is clear here that the second one is a much deeper and more serious problem.
It Is Difficult but Possible to Spot Fake Reviews
One way to spot fake reviews is by looking at “patterns”. Fake reviews follow nearly the same pattern and they seem to appear on websites on regular intervals e.g. one each day of the week. The wording in them is quite similar and more importantly, they are admiring the same feature of the product. Take a look at these three reviews which seem to be fake.
In fact, Amazon even filed a lawsuit against this entity and used these reviews as a proof.
The Damage to Sellers, Buyers and Competitors
Here is how the fake reviews are hurting buyers, sellers and the competitors of the sellers.
These days, buyers rely heavily on customer reviews before they buy something. In fact, consumers have always relied on the words from other consumers to make buying decisions. It is just that this practice has moved online with the coming of the internet. Data shows that 88% of buyers give importance to online reviews when shopping for something.
So, the buyers look at these fake reviews that are admiring the brand and end up buying the fake product. And if the product is selling under the name of a recognized brand, customers call the brand out for making subpar products because the fake ones are always of low quality.
Sellers lose their profits because there is some other brand selling a rip-off of their products. For consumers, it’s the reviews that matter the most and the counterfeit brands have the reviews on their side. How they get these reviews in their favor is they simply buy them.
At one point, Amazon filed lawsuits against two companies named Cyande Group and Arobo Trade INC/AUMAX Direct for having 54% and 52% fake reviews on their products respectively. Imagine how much effect these “good reviews” would have had on the overall rating and reputation of the brand. In a nutshell, other brands selling similar products did not stand a chance.
This is the lowest that counterfeiters can go in their attempts to sell their products and outplay their competitors. Not only do they buy fake reviews that thoroughly admire their products but they also ask fake reviewers to malign their competitors. So, the reviewer will admire the fake brand in the review while saying something along the lines of, “I had bought the same (item name) from (brand name) but I was disappointed with what I received. . . “