Amazon, arguably one of the world’s more technologically advanced customer-facing companies, is deploying a tool that dates to the 1860s to verify the addresses of some U.S. suppliers.
The Seattle-based company is sending postcards to third-party businesses to verify name and address, CNBC reported.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the first postcard was printed in Austria in 1869.
An Amazon email describing the postcard program states, according to CNBC: “As part of our commitment to provide a safe and trustworthy shopping experience for our customers and selling partners, we need to verify the business address displayed on your Amazon.com seller profile page.”
CNBC quoted an Amazon spokesman as having said in a prepared statement: “We leverage a combination of advanced machine learning capabilities, robust vetting, and expert human investigators to protect our customers and selling partners from bad actors and bad products. Once a seller is allowed to sell in our store, we continue to monitor their account and its behaviors for new risks.”
Amazon’s statement continued: “We are constantly innovating in this space to stay ahead of bad actors and their attempts to circumvent our controls.”
CNBC described a multi-step process Amazon reportedly uses to verify information about third-party sellers that use its platform. First, Amazon directs a seller to an internal portal called Seller Central where Amazon verifies the address of the seller’s business. Then Amazon sends postcards containing verification codes to those addresses.
Sellers then, according to CNBC, have 60 days to use the mailed codes to verify their information.
The postcard system is part of a larger push by Amazon to verify information about U.S. sellers, CNBC reported, adding that local laws already forced the company provide such information to shoppers in Europe, Japan and Mexico.
One benefit of verifying physical addresses, CNBC reported, is that companies banished by Amazon from its platform won’t be able to return under new names.
Juozas Kaziukenas, chief executive of Marketplace Pulse, reportedly told CNBC the postcard system “is perhaps the only way to answer the question: ‘Is the address you told us an address you have access to.’ Otherwise a seller can enter any address, and there isn’t a way to answer the same question, especially for international sellers.”