Amazon is cracking down on sellers and third-party developers who engage in practices that it says violates its Seller Code of Conduct, including practices with strange names such as two-step urls, funnels, and treasure hunts.
"We have recently received several seller inquiries regarding Amazon's policy on incentives that drive customer discovery and conversion," it wrote in an announcement on Seller Central, "particularly through rebates, coupons, and other marketing incentives - and are offered outside Amazon as a way of driving a purchase in our store."
It might not be clear from reading the announcement exactly what kind of practices it is refering to, but a seller linked to some threads where they had discussed Facebook posts that they found troubling.
For example, in March, a seller posted on Amazon a thread reading, "I wish Amazon would monitor Facebook for seller review manipulation" and showing a screenshot of an alleged Facebook post by a supplements brand that read, "BUY 1 GET 2 FREE ON AMAZON," promising it would send people who proved they made a purchase of the featured supplement on Amazon a free bottle directly.
The Amazon seller posted another screenshot of an alleged Facebook message from the same brand of supplements promising a customer a free bottle of supplements if they purchased it on Amazon, and another free bottle 15 days later "after you agree to provide us your written testimony."
Amazon said it considered it a violation of its Seller Code of Conduct if sellers offer rebates, discounts, and other schemes off-Amazon that are designed to drive customers to products that are listed and sold without those incentives on Amazon.
"These practices are potentially abusive to customers and other sellers, as they may inflate search ranking, incentivize product reviews, and generate artificial traffic and conversion behaviors," Amazon wrote.
It cited numerous schemes sellers engaged in to manipulate the search rankings of their products, including "two-step urls," "super urls," "funnels," "treasure hunts," "search-find-buy," and "any other form of false or misleading behavior."
"A service by any name that's intended to artificially boost search ranking or portray a discounted sale as full-price, is a violation," Amazon stated.
Amazon also said it was auditing developers in its Seller Central Partner Network to ensure they were not offering abusive services and said it was removing any applications it found to be violating the terms.
You can find Amazon's warning post on Seller Central
. Let us know if you've seen promotions from sellers directing people to buy on Amazon and whether they seem sketchy or legit.