Last year, on May 21, Amazon allowed the option of opening seller accounts in Pakistan so that Pakistani sellers can sell their products without having to contact their foreign relatives to open an account for them. But this opportunity was taken advantage of by many Pakistanis and Amazon vigorously started suspending any Pakistani account involved in any type of fraud.
Over the past few years, the Amazon retail industry has been a buzzword for the majority of Pakistani youth. Saqib Azher, Sunny Ali and Rehan Allahwalla are the Pakistani teachers and Amazon experts who have guided the nation to the path of Amazon success. And thousands of Pakistani Amazon sellers learned from them and made hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Everything was fine as long as everyone who joined the Amazon seller program had to go through these institutes if they were to create accounts on Amazon. There was also a decent fee charged for anyone to open a seller account in Pakistan. Only serious sellers with dedicated training and focus open Amazon seller accounts.
But things started to get messy when Amazon announced that now anyone in Pakistan can open a seller account after standard verification and formalities. It only made sense for Amazon as there were many Amazon sellers in Pakistan operating under foreign accounts. They wanted to increase their “ease of doing business in Pakistan so that more sellers would join them and ultimately Amazon could benefit.”
At first, all seemed well as Pakistani small businesses started exporting some products to international markets and selling them through Amazon. But to Amazon’s surprise, many Pakistanis who were untrained in the legal complications and scarcity of their official accounts began to find backdoors to catalyze their income on Amazon.
There were several tricks used by many people in Pakistan to earn extra money. Amazon said the Mian Chanuu and Sahiwal areas have a specifically higher number of defaulters and are considered red areas. Amazon banned Mian Chanuu’s IP addresses from opening or exploiting their accounts and claimed that these scammers are now operating from certain accounts in Dubai or other locations. The tricks used by these scammers are;
Fake sellers claim to buyers that the order should reach them within 15-20 days. Amazon usually pays sellers in 14 days, so these scammers set up fake order tracking and the buyer has no reason to doubt and report nothing. After 14 days, Amazon pays the seller and continues to wait for the order, which they never receive. Amazon in this case does nothing because they have already paid the sellers.
This trick is to buy fake cards for around $100 with full dark web details. Then they buy gifts from these cards and resell them to customers, this way the scammers are harder to catch and since the buyers get what they ordered, no one can report them.
Padding is a trick that seems legal but is illegal. What fillers do is place products on Amazon and when they receive an order from the customer, they buy the same product from other suppliers, like Sam’s Club or Walmart, and ship it to the address of the buyer.
What will be the future of Amazon in Pakistan?
Interestingly, Pakistanis have registered 80,000 Amazon seller accounts, which is only less than China and it has only been possible for a little over a year. And only a few of them benefit Amazon and most of them do nothing or try to scam in some way. Sellers who opened an account from foreign cooperation registration or through foreign relatives bring some value to Amazon. Amazon’s effort to manage sellers from Pakistan is more than the profit it makes from it. So it is quite possible that Amazon will revert to disabling seller account option in Pakistan. Which is good for the Pakistani seller even if it sounds bad.
If Amazon revives its old status, only genuine trained sellers who have something at stake will try their luck on Amazon and this way sellers would be more focused and also avoid the extra checks that Amazon had to induce due to defaulters .
Amazon has already hinted at this by prohibiting anyone from Mian Chanuu and Sahiwal from opening an account and this may be happening all over Pakistan. But sincere sellers are unlikely to be prevented from investing money and opening their accounts. One thing is for sure, Amazon e-commerce is not going to disappear from Pakistan and only more success stories are going to appear from the people who have worked hard on it.