Purchasing on eCommerce market places is now common in our digital first era. However, a recent report by The Sunday Times uncovered that several of these marketplaces such as Lazada and Amazon are now seeing merchants sell illegal goods on their platforms.
For example, electronic vaporisers have been marketed as incense burners on the platform. Meanwhile, a tool used to smoke cannabis was labelled as a “hydroponic plant vase”, found a search by The Sunday Times. This comes despite a blanket ban on such products.
According to a spokesperson from Lazada, the platform has a zero-tolerance policy for prohibited items in Singapore. “We work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure illicit items are not sold on the platform, and continually update our algorithms to weed out and disable listings that are against our marketplace policy for sellers,” the spokesperson said.
He added that once the platform was notified of the items being sold that could be misused for illicit purposes but marketed as innocuous products, Lazada “promptly disabled them to ensure that Lazada remains a safe place to shop.
“We strongly encourage shoppers to notify us if they discover such products and help keep the marketplace safe for everyone,” he added.
Meanwhile, Amazon prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes and drug paraphernalia. A spokesperson explained that third-party sellers are independent businesses, but are required to follow all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies when listings items for sale in our store.
“We have proactive measures in place to prevent prohibited products from being listed and we continuously monitor our store. Those who violate our policies are subject to action including potential removal of their account. The items in question have been removed and we’ve taken action on the bad actors,” the spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
While Shopee Singapore was not pointed out as a platform with illegal goods on the Sunday Times report, the platform overall has faced its own share of problematic posts. For example, in Malaysia Shopee was put in the spotlight after a tweet went viral for an inappropriate listing on its platform where male children were listed with the words "Good stuff for sale".
In the pictures taken by the netizen, a young boy was listed for RM6,942 under Shopee's health and beauty category and listed under personal pleasure. The seller who posted the listing up provided descriptions for the "product" in Malay, which translates to "masturbation material to be sold", "limited edition vintage item", "used", and "can pm to negotiate the price". After the incident, Shopee Malaysia thanked the netizen for highlighting the issue and said it has taken action, and urged consumers report to the platform if they find similar listings. Users are also encouraged to report suspicious listings to Shopee by tapping on the three dots in the top right corner of the listing’s page.
Meanwhile, Shopee has also amped up its screening processes where it employs a range of automated and manual screening processes to identify and prevent the listing of items that do not meet its platform’s guidelines and criteria. A spokesperson said, “We take a strict zero-tolerance approach to the sale of prohibited items on our platform, and are committed to providing all our users with a safe, reliable and enjoyable shopping experience.”
“In isolated cases where determined bad actors may intentionally mislabel products to evade these screening processes, we take swift action to remove the listings, suspend the seller’s account, and immediately notify the relevant authorities,” she added.
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