In a bid to make its online marketplace more ethical for sellers, Amazon India has reportedly halted the use of the ‘search-seeding’ tool. Notably, the algorithm-based tool improved the chances of a product to appear on the first page of results after a consumer search for a certain product on the online platform.
According to an ET report, the search-seeding tool has been disabled on Amazon India’s online marketplace over the past few months.
Amazon’s decision comes at a time when ecommerce marketplaces in the country have been alleged of favouring few merchants over others. Moreover, they have even attracted surveillance from the government over this unethical practice.
While Amazon India has reportedly said that it does not provide any tool to sellers that can manipulate the ranking of shopping results, an unnamed merchant, who has been selling his products on Amazon, reportedly said that he has used seeding to improve search results.
The merchant further highlighted that last month an Amazon executive has told its sellers that search-seeding has been disabled since it was being abused by various traders. “We were provided with search word-based analytics on the platform about twice a month, which helps sellers, using those keywords, to appear on top results,” he was quoted as saying.
Why Search-Seeding Is Important For Sellers
Since Amazon India has over five lakh sellers on its platform, appearing on the first couple of pages of search results is of utmost importance because of the high competition. “Keywords used to list that particular product, based on the segment, are a critical part of search-seeding. That listing would get pushed up in the marketplace by design,” the merchant added.
The merchant further added that search-seeding helps merchants to appear on the first couple of pages once someone is looking for a certain product. “Without it, my products hardly appeared on the top results and one has to opt for other tools like sponsored advertisements,” he added.
Moreover, other factors such as reviews, ranking, price and relevance also determine the rankings of products on the search results page. However, sellers have almost zero control over these factors and thus cannot manipulate them to impact the search result.
Amazon To Accelerate Traders Biz
Besides dropping the search-seeding tool, Amazon is also planning to make its marketplace more transparent in India by introducing ‘Vine’ under its merchant promoting programme, Amazon Accelerator.
Interestingly, Vine is a network of top reviewers, who post opinions about products, even before their launch. This helps their fellow customers make decisions and purchase the best available product. A higher number of positive reviews helps in improving the visibility of products over the online marketplace.
The media report added that Amazon is planning to launch Vine in 2020 in India. The Amazon Accelerator programme provides suggestions to small manufacturers on how they can compete with other brands on its platform.
Under the programme, Amazon will provide data about products, combinations such as size and colour, among others to help manufacturers increase their sales using the right algorithms. “For customers, this program adds products to our assortment and allows us to offer an even wider selection of high-quality products at a great value,” an Amazon spokesperson told ET.
Amazon’s announcement of the launch of Amazon’s Accelerator programme for promoting small merchants in the country comes at a time when trader bodies such as the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has been accusing ecommerce companies of indulging in unethical practices, like deep discounting and predatory pricing, which, in turn, is allegedly destabilising the retail trade of India.
While previously announcing a nationwide agitation against Amazon and Flipkart, CAIT has also been writing letters to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, commerce minister Piyush Goyal, and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting their intervention in the matter.