Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Amazon.com is a hustling marketplace, consisting of millions of third-party sellers, forcefully driving the corporation towards its $1 trillion dollar valuation (as of July 11th). Among the broad quantity of buyers on Amazon, a prominent community of grocery shoppers has emerged, especially after Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.
However, a substantial amount of consumers have discovered that, just as the Amazon faces a problem with unsafe and counterfeit products, the grocery section embodies similar complications in the form of expired foods.
As reported by Amazon customers, a wide assortment of stale food items, including baby formula, coffee creamer, beef jerky and granola bars, have been arriving spoiled and well past their sell-by date. Interviews with popular brands, third-party sellers, as well as consumers and consultants all point towards loopholes in Amazon’s logistics system, allowing expired items to escalate with little accountability.
Advocates of consumer safety worry that the complication will only get worse. Food sellers retain more than 2.5 million businesses using Amazon for distribution purposes, a group that now represents 58% of the corporation’s total sold merchandise.
According to CNBC, when scrolling upon Amazon’s Grocery & Gourmet category, numerous customers claim to experience buying expired products, some with a “rancid smell.”
A third-party listing for the Doritos Hot & Spicy product, a featured product and a best-seller in Amazon’s Chips category, has multiple claims from different individuals stating that they received “stale” chips which, in some cases, was set to expire within a few days. Another featured product by Amazon, this time for Fiji water, had reviews where users claimed to be receiving recycled Fiji bottles which were filled up with tap water.
Amazon claims to feed data from temporarily-ceased accounts and listings into its AI systems in order to advance detection and block suspicious activity. Specifically in the food category, Amazon uses a selective database called “Heartbeat” which regulates customer comments through reviews, phone calls, emails and seller feedback for safety issues.
Despite all these tools, many consultants state that Amazon needs to rely on something more than just customer issues to catch expired foods. Such individuals argue that Amazon should create strategies to retain a greater control within the marketplace and enhance the detection of questionable products, strictly enforcing its policies when third-party sellers break the rules.
What do you think? Should Amazon limit these sellers based on product age? Should a better algorithm be put into circulation regarding sales of expired products?