Abstracting Amazon? Fakespot Layers AI-Based Trust Over Digital Commerce
It’s almost poetic justice.
Amazon is more than a store. There are so many products, so many brands, and so many stores-within-the-store that it’s essentially an abstraction layer over commerce. With 75 million products on the digital shelves, virtually anything you want, from almost any brand, is available on Amazon. And that has enabled Amazon to take a massive $367 billion slice of digital commerce in the United States: bigger than the next nine players combined, according to eMarketer. That’s literally 50% of the market accumulating to one company.
Now there’s a layer on top of Amazon.
And it’s one that will eventually rest on Walmart, eBay, Best Buy, Sephora, and probably other stores as well. Fakespot is launching “the world’s first secure shopping browser” in a new app, Fakespot Secure Shopping.
Secure, safe, trustworthy shopping, according to Fakespot.
“Fakespot Secure Shopping completely replicates the mobile Amazon shopping experience, with a catch …. they use AI to weed out the thousands and thousands of fake products and products littered with fake reviews that shoppers don’t even know exist,” a Fakespot representative told me via email. “A recent data leak exposed Amazon’s massive issue a few weeks ago when more than 200,000 accounts were tied to fake review scams. Fakespot has been tracking this issue for years and puts fake reviews on the platform in the neighborhood of 40%.”
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We’ve all seen it, and most of us have probably been victimized by it, knowingly or not.
A no-name product from some company you don’t recognize that has a great price and stellar reviews … even if they do all sound somewhat canned. UK-based Which found that Amazon’s first page of tech product results were often unknown brands with five-star reviews that are 90% unverified. And just two weeks ago a cybersecurity researcher uncovered details of that massive scheme the Fakespot representative referenced: 75,000 Amazon vendors trading good reviews for free merchandise to 200,000 unscrupulous people.
Using Fakespot is like essentially like using Amazon through a filter.
Fakespot’s AI weeds out fake reviews as well as fake or replica products. It cuts out counterfeiting and pure drop-shippers, Fakespot says, and helps you avoid high-risk sellers. Vendors with poor history show up with a red warning icon; known good vendors have a green icon. And, when you find products from a bad source, Fakespot will suggest similar products or identical products from a known-good source. The app also grades reviews from A to F, where A is all reliable, trustworthy reviews.
And Fakespot then shows an adjusted product rating, which can take a 5-star Amazon review down to 4.5 stars or less. In addition, the app shows highlights, sharing scores on quality, competitiveness, pricing, shipping, and packaging in one simple review.
It’s a great idea, and frankly a bad look for Amazon and other retailers that such a product needs to be built.
If successful, it could make an interesting case to be the first screen of shopping, kind of how Google is the first screen of search or Facebook is the first screen of social. An abstraction layer over Amazon and other digital retailers, in other words.
That’s a long ways off, of course, right now.
Now it’s simply an intermediated experience of the Amazon app or website which substitutes what Fakespot says is better consumer information from the user-generated reviews Amazon is famous for. Plus Walmart, Best Buy, and the other retailers Fakespot has onboarded so far.
If it works well — and doesn’t get sued out of existence by retailers who don’t like what Fakespot is doing — that’s a major bonus for shoppers, especially those who have their credit card and shipping information with Amazon or other stores, and like their deliver policies.
I’ve downloaded the app and browsed Amazon, but I haven’t actually purchased anything on Amazon using the Fakespot app, so it’s hard to say whether the experience is better.
One question, of course: how does Fakespot making money?
The representative I emailed said that Fakespot sells ads. But you’d have to wonder if it’s also monetizing the data about what people are searching for and buying. According to it’s App privacy declaration in the iOS App Store, Fakespot is collecting data on purchases, search history, and more, but it is not linking that data to individual people.
The app is available now, though the official announcement is coming tomorrow.