November 2021 | latest update: June 2023| by Lili
Whether authorized and/or third party, not all sellers are created equal. Or rather, there can be a huge difference between seller and seller. But how do marketplaces separate the wheat from the chaff and decide which sellers are legit? Well, there’s a process for that called seller verification.
Seller verification is the procedure prospective sellers on an online marketplace have to go through to verify their identity. This procedure is aimed at protecting consumers from sellers acting in bad faith, ensuring that competition between sellers is fair, and reducing the amount of counterfeit products on the platform.
Each online marketplace has its own procedure (if any) for seller verification. Some only allow sellers to start selling once they verified themselves, while others give unverified sellers limited access to the platform’s features. Others even offer some kind of incentive for sellers to verify themselves.
Let’s take a look at the verification processes sellers have to complete on some of the most popular online marketplaces.
What these IDs can be depend on the country or region of the seller in question, but in general, a passport, a national ID card or a driver’s licence would be best. Also, sellers’ documents should be in one of Amazon’s supported languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese or Portuguese). If that’s not the case, applicants should provide a notarized translation as well.
Amazon boxes waiting to be shipped
Depending on the location, additional documents may be required, including a business license, a utility bill or a credit card statement.
Once all required documents are uploaded, Amazon asks applicants to wait a few days until it reviews the information and may request further clarifications. If a seller doesn’t respond to these requests or is unable to provide all the necessary documents, their application will be deleted.
Due to the nature of this marketplace, eBay has different rules for professional and individual sellers. For the latter category, applicants need to provide their name, address, date of birth and their Social Security Number (or equivalent in the country of their origin).
For professional sellers, the rules are slightly stricter. They have to apply with their legal business name, address, employer ID number and phone number. If these aren’t sufficient, eBay may ask applicants to scan a photo ID, like their driver’s license or national ID card.
All sellers must link and verify their bank account to their eBay profile in order to receive payments.
The international B2C platform of the Alibaba Group, AliExpress is a massive and increasingly popular online marketplace. Besides Chinese vendors, AliExpress allows international third-party sellers to register and sell on the marketplace as well.
There are less details available about the seller verification process than in the case of Amazon or eBay. Prospective sellers must first register an account on AliExpress by providing information such as their business name and register number, tax certificate, and the ID of the legal representative.
AliExpress promises to review the information given within 2-3 business days, which is necessary for sellers to start selling.
Not exactly known for its rigorous processes and high quality products, Wish still has a seller validation requirement in place. According to this, prospective sellers need to provide their business address, phone number, a government ID for individuals and a business license and/or tax documents.
In some cases unvalidated sellers may still be able to access the platform, but they can only sell a limited amount of products.
Lazada has different requirements for individual and corporate sellers. Sole proprietors need to upload their business contact, banking information and a government ID. The marketplace runs a compulsory training for individual sellers, which they have to participate in before they can proceed. Finally, they have to pay the membership fee and capital requirements before their store can be opened.
Corporate sellers have a slightly different set of rules. They also have to provide their contact and banking information, including government IDs.
However, they’re required to upload their business registration as well, which proves the business is registered with the government. In exchange, they can skip the training.
Shopee also allows individual and business sellers to offer their products on the platform. Individuals only have to provide an ID and a mobile phone number, while businesses have to submit their business information (including tax number and business license number), business license documents, as well as their Singpass (a digital ID issued by the Singapore government).
This American marketplace, well-known for its giant physical stores, requires its sellers to provide their business and contact information, along with their inventory, shipping, return and tax procedures. Once the information is uploaded, Walmart reviews all the documents to verify if the seller is eligible for selling on their marketplace. The contents of the verification process itself is not published, but it’s supposed to take around 2 business days.
OLX also verifies its sellers, however, the process doesn’t seem to be very rigorous. In fact, all OLX requires from its sellers is a government ID along with a selfie. (Yes, it says selfie on OLX’s official site)
Screenshot of help.olx.in displaying information about the verification process
Prospective sellers (both individual and professional) on Mercado Libre need to provide their contact information, including email and phone number. These are validated by the marketplace. Then the next step is uploading business information, including business name, contacts and tax number.
People who have already shopped on Mercado Libre can convert their user account into a seller account by following a link on their profile and adding the above information.
As you see, the level of requirements for seller verification varies greatly from marketplace to marketplace. But even the strictest validation requirements are not enough to fully eliminate fraudsters from a platform.
A good example of this is Amazon. Of the four marketplaces covered, Amazon has by far the strictest seller verification requirements. And yet, the marketplace keeps making an appearance on the annual review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy issued by the US Trade Representative.
How is that possible?
Well, as big as it is, Amazon (and any other online marketplace) is not a government entity and doesn’t have access to tools and databases that allow government agencies to discover if an ID is fake.
A person holding a passport and two microchip-cards
This means that fraudsters with a decent fake (or stolen!) ID have a fair chance of getting through a marketplace review, even the strictest one. And besides, sellers who refrain from illegal activities and “only” sell grey marketed or bad quality items may even use their own IDs.
All in all, while seller verification is a necessary and good tool for filtering out some harmful sellers, it’s nowhere near enough to ensure your brand’s protection from counterfeiting and other IP infringements on online marketplaces.
If you don’t want to give counterfeiters, grey marketers and any other harmful sellers a chance, allow globaleyez to set up a comprehensive online brand protection program for your brand, including our highly efficient marketplace monitoring service.
Our dedicated brand protection experts, armed with specialized software tools, can monitor over a hundred online marketplaces worldwide. We discover IP-infringing listings quickly and efficiently, providing you with comprehensive reports and actionable advice on potential next steps, including removal of the offending listings.
If you’re worried about inefficient seller verification or any other problem that could harm your brand’s IP rights, contact globaleyez and tell us about your issues.