Amazon Basics promotes cheap knockoffs and hurts small business
Amazon, the biggest online retailer platform in the world, is in hot water for its unethical conduct. Initially an online marketplace for selling books, today Amazon is known for providing e-commerce, cloud computing, and digital streaming services. Over 1.6 million packages are shipped a day, a testimony to its great power in the online shopping space.
Many small businesses rely on Amazon for a majority of their sales. Pack Design, a camera bag and accessories brand, has been selling on Amazon for some time. Recently, CEO Peter Dering accused Amazon Basics of making knockoffs of their top-selling product, the Everyday Sling Bag. “They copied the general shape, they copied the access points, they copied the charcoal color, and they copied the trapezoidal logo badge,” Dering told CNBC.
Amazon even went as far as naming its knockoff the Everyday Sling Bag. This was very upsetting to Dering, who takes pride in creating one-of-a-kind and quality products. Not only did Amazon Basics replicate the design and name of the bag, but they also sold it for two-thirds of the price. Despite the similarities the bags had, there were two major differences: the quality and ethical manufacturing standards.
Dering’s team responded to Amazon in a comical and enlightening 90-second YouTube video. In the video, Dering’s team mocked the thought process that went into creating the knockoff bag. “You don’t have to pay for all those needless bells and whistles, like years of research and development, recycled bluesign-approved materials, a lifetime warranty, fairly paid factory workers and total carbon neutrality,” a Pack Design employee says in the video. “Instead, you just get a bag designed by the crack team at the Amazon Basics Department.”
The video went viral, getting 4.6 million views. Fans and viewers were enraged after watching and left an abundance of negative reviews for Amazon Basics Everyday Sling Bag. In response, Amazon stopped selling the bag. Amazon has not responded or made a statement in response to the video.
Amazon Basic’s practice of intellectual theft is no longer a secret and the general public is now aware of this situation. By ripping off a small business's work, Amazon has created distrust between themselves and their customers. This is much different than what other retailers have been doing (developing brand products similar to other’s best sellers) because Amazon owns lots of personal data. What Amazon is doing is an unfair business practice.
Recently, Amazon has even been promoting dupes for small-brand workout companies. One example I’ve seen a lot is dupes for Alphalete activewear. The Amazon dupes copy everything from the color to the cut of their highest-selling product, the Amplify shorts. YouTubers are now posting about these dupes and encouraging others to buy from them as well. This dupe review was just posted a day ago and takes business away from the original creator.
The least Amazon could have done was apologize, but even that was too much for them. Although copying another creator's design (without their logo) is not illegal, it is unethical. It dismisses all of the hard work that goes into creating an original product. I believe in supporting companies and brands that value the well-being of their workers, customers, and the environment. Now that I know that Amazon is okay with ripping off other creators, I will take my business elsewhere.
By Victoria Finn
Victoria Finn is a senior at San Diego State University studying public relations. She was born and raised in Carlsbad, CA. Victoria is a digital marketing intern at Comrad.