“Let’s cut out the middleman”

For better or for worse? Receiving an Amazon package does not always mean getting a quality product

Is Amazon.com, Inc. still an American company? It generates itself patriotic, but regarding sellers, China is omnipresent – causing safety problems.

In a recent blogpost in the Amazon blog “dayone”, the company stated employing more than 21,000 veterans and military spouses in full- and part-time roles across the U.S. Same with Amazon in Germany: “Amazon is a good and fair employer. We are proud of our company, and our approx. 20,000 employees (in Germany) located at more than 35 German centres.” This attitude is characteristic for a reliable and good corporate citizen: think global, act local.

However, the Wall Street Journal has once again drawn attention to the fact that the products offered on Amazon originate largely from China and pose considerable safety risks. In the article “Amazon’s Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Sellers Puts Consumers at Risk”, the WSJ shows how Amazon offers banned, unsafe and mislabeled products to the USA. 

With reference to the research institute “Marketplace Pulse” the numbers of top Amazon sellers in various countries coming from China are high. In Germany, 33% of top sellers at Amazon are from China, in the U.K. it are almost 37%. In France (51.9%) and Spain (56.67%) the Chinese (top-)traders are in the majority on the Amazon platform.

This third-party content may be crucial for Amazon, reaching new maximum values in turnover and sales – nevertheless Chinese products are endangering Amazon’s business. In its recent 10-K SEC reporting, the company stated: “Under our seller programs, we may be unable to prevent sellers from collecting payments, fraudulently or otherwise, when buyers never receive the products they ordered or when the products received are materially different from the sellers’ descriptions. We also may be unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods (…).”

The WSJ cites an Amazon employee in China: “Let’s cut out the middleman. We think that will enhance margins (…)”. The medieval concept of the middleman, buying a good from a manufacturer and reselling it to the customer with a margin was seen to be outdated in a globalised e-commerce world. Maybe it sees a revival, when the added value would be trustworthiness in quality of products.