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Report: Amazon’s AI is Writing Misleading Product Reviews

Hey, fellow Amazon Sellers!

Welcome to the first newsletter of the year from Amazon Seller School. Let’s kick off 2024 with a bang, diving into some thrilling updates in the world of Amazon selling:

1. Report: Amazon’s AI is Writing Misleading Product Reviews

Amazon’s AI-based tool, designed to summarize product reviews into concise descriptions, is facing criticism for exaggerating negative feedback. This tool, which generates short summaries by identifying common themes in existing reviews, has reportedly created inaccurate or overly negative descriptions in some cases. This has led to concerns among sellers about potential sales impact, fearing that minor negative feedback is being misrepresented as a consistent issue. While Amazon claims the feature has increased sales and aided customer product discovery, the company acknowledges the need for ongoing refinement of the technology to improve accuracy.

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2. Logistics Showdown: UPS and Amazon Battle for Supremacy

The logistics industry is witnessing fierce competition between UPS and Amazon, with Amazon recently surpassing both UPS and FedEx in parcel volume for 2022. Amazon’s rapid rise in the logistics sector is remarkable, having no stake in the US parcel delivery market as recently as 2014. The company’s strategic investments in its logistics infrastructure have enabled it to reduce reliance on other carriers like FedEx and UPS. Despite UPS’s efforts to counter Amazon’s dominance, including acquiring Happy Returns for a broader returns network and offering significant pay increases to its drivers, Amazon’s end-to-end control and efficient delivery system have solidified its position as a leading delivery service in the United States. However, Amazon still lacks the global coverage and complementary operations of UPS and FedEx.

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3. Easily Check Subscribe & Save Eligibility for Your FBA Products

Amazon has introduced a new feature for sellers that simplifies the process of checking if their Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) products are eligible for the Subscribe & Save program. This self-service tool, accessible via Seller Central, offers instant eligibility checks without the need to contact support. It is available 24/7, allowing sellers to conveniently verify their products’ eligibility at any time. To use this feature, sellers need to sign in to Amazon Subscribe & Save, navigate to the eligibility check page, enter their product details, and receive their eligibility status within seconds.

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4. Long-Time Sellers Drive Half of Amazon’s 3P GMV

More than half of Amazon’s U.S. marketplace sales come from sellers who have been active for over five years, demonstrating the platform’s ability to retain long-standing sellers despite ongoing changes and increased selling costs. This enduring participation exists alongside the steady addition of new sellers, who join at a rate of thousands per day and contribute to incremental growth in the marketplace. Interestingly, new sellers are still finding success and growing, even in areas dominated by established sellers, thanks to the expanding overall marketplace Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV). The sales mix reflects a balance of sustainability and competition, with no indication of marketplace health issues or saturation. The data shows that sellers who joined Amazon over ten years ago contributed about 5% of the volume, similar to those who joined in the last year, highlighting a healthy equilibrium between long-time and new sellers.

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5. Ocean Cargo Rates Climb After New Red Sea Ship Attacks

Ocean freight rates have surged following recent attacks on cargo vessels in the Red Sea by Yemen-based Houthi militants. The attacks, including a missile strike and an attempted hijacking of a Maersk ship, have led carriers to halt transits through the Red Sea, impacting the vital Suez Canal trade route. This disruption has forced ships to take longer routes around Africa’s southern Cape of Good Hope, significantly increasing travel times and costs. As a result, freight rates for Asia-to-North Europe and Asia-to-Mediterranean routes have more than doubled, with some carriers announcing rates above $6,000 per 40-foot container for Mediterranean shipments. Despite these increases, the current rates are still below the pandemic peak levels of 2021.

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6. Amazon Sellers Lack Control over Buyer-Facing AI Features

Amazon is increasingly integrating AI into its marketplace, using it for functions like answering product-related questions on the iPhone/Android app. This AI tool automatically generates responses based on existing reviews and customer queries. However, sellers have no direct control over these AI-driven buyer-facing features, such as review summaries and the Q&A section. Incorrect information generated by AI could impact sales or lead to an increase in returns. Amazon has been using machine learning and AI for various purposes and is now testing new features to enhance customer shopping experiences. This includes AI-generated product review snippets and AI-assisted listing tools for sellers. However, there have been instances of errors in AI-generated content, leading to nonsensical product titles on Amazon, which the company has addressed by removing problematic listings and enhancing systems. eBay also utilizes AI features, and there’s a growing need for robust reporting mechanisms for sellers to address issues caused by AI tools.

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7. Attention Amazon Sellers: Important Shipping Update

Amazon sellers in the US must now adhere to a new mandatory shipping requirement for boxes over 15 kg (33lb). Each heavyweight box must have a “Team Lift”/”Heavy Package” safety label displayed on the top and sides, totaling 5 labels per box. While this requirement is already familiar to UK/EU sellers, it’s a significant update for the US market. Non-compliance can lead to high costs, as labels must be added in the US if they are not already on the boxes shipped from China.

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8. A Complete Guide to Amazon Premium A+ Content

Amazon Premium A+ Content, also known as A++ Content, allows brands to create visually stunning, engaging, and interactive product pages. This advanced content management tool surpasses basic product descriptions, offering features like videos, full-width imagery, and interactive modules. Initially exclusive to brands on Vendor Central with a high cost, it became available on Seller Central for free during a promotional period in August 2022. The implementation of Premium A+ Content can lead to increased traffic, higher conversions, and a potential 20% boost in sales. However, brands need to consider the cost of producing high-quality visual assets and the requirement of a published Brand Story for all ASINs in their catalog. This tool helps in visual storytelling, increases credibility, and may improve search ranking on Amazon.

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9. Amazon is battling a wave of bizarre AI-generated product listings – all with the title: ‘I cannot fulfil this request it goes against OpenAI use policy’

Amazon is facing an unusual challenge with a series of peculiar product listings generated by artificial intelligence. These listings, often with titles like ‘I’m sorry but I cannot fulfill this request it goes against OpenAI use policy,’ are believed to be the result of sellers using OpenAI’s ChatGPT to create product descriptions without proper review. The situation highlights a trend where sellers hope AI-generated content will optimize their listings for better visibility in search results. Amazon has started removing these listings and enhancing its systems to prevent similar occurrences in the future. The issue also raises questions about Amazon’s oversight of products listed on its marketplace.

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10. FedEx announces its own commerce platform for merchants

FedEx has introduced its new commerce platform, FDX, aimed at competing with Amazon by offering a range of merchant services, including demand generation, fulfillment, tracking, and managing post-purchase experiences like returns. Currently in private preview, with plans for a wider launch in fall 2024, the platform integrates FedEx services like ShopRunner to enhance customer experience, from showing delivery times to handling returns. While the announcement is rich in marketing terms but light on specifics, FedEx emphasizes its focus on helping businesses improve customer experience rather than entering the marketplace sector, differentiating itself from Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service.

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11. Amazon Sellers May Need to Change Product Manual Settings

Starting January 29, 2024, Amazon sellers are required to adjust their product documentation practices, as the platform will no longer support certain document types, including 2D CAD, 3D CAD, Application Guide, Brochure, and others. This move aims to standardize product listings and enhance customer access to information. Sellers must either transfer data from unsupported documents to the product description or re-upload content to a supported document type by February 26, 2024, as unsupported document types will be removed from product detail pages and Seller Central.

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That wraps up this month’s highlights! Stay tuned for more updates and insights as we continue to navigate the dynamic landscape of Amazon selling.

Happy selling!

Todd Welch
Amazon Seller School