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Mirakl raises $300 million for its marketplace platform

French startup Mirakl has raised a $300 million funding round at a $1.5 billion valuation — the company is now a unicorn. Mirakl helps you launch and manage a marketplace on your e-commerce website. Many customers also rely on Mirakl-powered marketplaces for B2B transactions.

Permira Advisers is leading the round, with existing investors 83North, Bain Capital Ventures, Elaia Partners and Felix Capital also participating.

“We’ve closed this round in 43 days,” co-founder and U.S. CEO Adrien Nussenbaum told me. But the due diligence process has been intense. “[Permira Advisers] made 250 calls to clients, leads, partners and former employees.”

Many e-commerce companies rely on third-party sellers to increase their offering. Instead of having one seller selling to many customers, marketplaces let you sell products from many sellers to many customers. Mirakl has built a solution to manage the marketplace of your e-commerce platform.

300 companies have been working with Mirakl for their marketplace, such as Best Buy Canada, Carrefour, Darty and Office Depot. More recently, Mirakl has been increasingly working with B2B clients as well.

These industry-specific marketplaces can be used for procurement or bulk selling of parts. In this category, clients include Airbus Helicopters, Toyota Material Handling and Accor’s Astore. 60% of Mirakl’s marketplace are still consumer-facing marketplaces, but the company is adding as many B2B and B2C marketplaces these days.

“We’ve developed a lot of features that enable platform business models that go further than simple marketplaces,” co-founder and CEO Philippe Corrot told me. “For instance, we’ve invested in services — it lets our clients develop service platforms.”

In France, Conforama can upsell customers with different services when they buy some furniture for instance. Mirakl has also launched its own catalog manager so that you can merge listings, add information, etc.

The company is using artificial intelligence to do the heavy-lifting on this front. There are other AI-enabled features, such as fraud detection.

Given that Mirakl is a marketplace expert, it’s not surprising that the company has also created a sort of marketplace of marketplaces with Mirakl Connect.

“Mirakl Connect is a platform that is going to be the single entry point for everybody in the marketplace ecosystem, from sellers to operators and partners,” Corrot said.

For sellers, it’s quite obvious. You can create a company profile and promote products on multiple marketplaces at once. But the company is also starting to work with payment service providers, fulfillment companies, feed aggregators and other partners. The company wants to become a one-stop shop on marketplaces with those partners.

Overall, Mirakl-powered marketplaces have generated $1.2 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) during the first half of 2020. It represents a 111% year-over-year increase, despite the economic crisis.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to expand across all areas — same features, same business model, but with more resources. It plans to hire 500 engineers and scale its sales and customer success teams.

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To fight fraud, Amazon now screens third-party sellers through video calls

Amazon is piloting a new system aimed at validating the identify of third-party sellers over video conferencing, the company announced on Sunday. The technology is a part of a series of seller-verification processes that Amazon uses to combat fraud on its platform, which the company claims stopped 2.5 million suspected bad actors from publishing their products to Amazon in 2019.

Earlier this year, Amazon began testing a process where seller verifications were handled in person. But due to the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing requirements, the company says it pivoted to live video conferencing in February.

The pilot program is now running in a number of markets, including the U.S., U.K., China and Japan. To date, more than 1,000 sellers have attempted to register an account through the pilot experience, Amazon says.

To vet the sellers, Amazon’s team sets up a video call, then checks that the individual’s ID matches the person and the documents they shared with their application. The Amazon associates also lean on third-party data sources for additional verification. In addition, the call may be used to provide the seller with information about problems with their registration and how to resolve them.

“Amazon is always innovating to improve the seller experience so honest entrepreneurs can seamlessly open a selling account and start a business, while also proactively blocking bad actors,” an Amazon spokesperson said about the new initiative. “As we practice social distancing, we are testing a process that allows us to validate prospective sellers’ identification via video conferencing. This pilot allows us to connect one-on-one with prospective sellers while making it even more difficult for fraudsters to hide,” they said.

In addition to video conferencing, Amazon also uses a proprietary machine learning system to vet sellers before they’re allowed online, it says. This system analyzes hundreds of different data point to identify potential risk, including verifying whether the account is related to another account that was previously removed from the marketplace, for example. The sellers’ applications are also reviewed by trained investigators before being approved.

Seller verification is only one way Amazon has taken on fraud, however.

The issue continues to be a serious problem across online marketplaces, where sellers hawk counterfeit items and scam consumers. Some retailers, including Nike and Birkenstock, have found the hassles aren’t worth the risk of dealing with Amazon, as a result.

While the retailer has long been accused of avoiding issues around fraud, it’s more recently pledged to spend billions to address the problem and has inserted itself into legal battles with fraudulent sellers and counterfeiters in recent years.

For example, it filed three lawsuits in 2018 in partnership with fashion designer Vera Bradley and mobile accessories maker Otterbox over counterfeits. It has also sued sellers buying fake reviews and others involved in the fake review industry. 

Last year, Amazon announced an initiative called Project Zero, which introduced a range of tools for brands to use to help Amazon fight fraud. The brands can opt to provide Amazon with their logos, trademarks and other key data, allowing the retailer to scan its billions of product listings to find suspected counterfeits more proactively.

Another tool, serialization, allows brands to include a unique code on their products during manufacturing, which can later be scanned to verify that a purchase is authentic. This tool, now known as Transparency, expanded to other markets last summer, including Europe, Canada and India.

But unlike these earlier efforts, seller verification aims to cut down on products being listed in the first place –not just removed once listings go live or stopping fraudulent products from being shipped to customers.

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Das merkwürdige Amazon-Geschäft mit den Nazi-Händlern

Für den Online-Händler Amazon ist das Webshop-Konzept „Marketplace“ ein Erfolgsmodell. Händler können auf der Plattform ihre Waren zum Verkauf anbieten und dann an Amazon liefern, der US-Konzern übernimmt den Rest. Doch die vermeintliche Win-win-Situation hat ihre dunklen Seiten. So findet sich auf „Marketplace“ aktuell eine ganze Reihe an Verkäufern, die über die Plattform des Konzerns eindeutig rechte Angebote machen.

Dazu gehört zum Beispiel ein schwarzes Blechschild in weißer Frakturschrift, Schriftzug „Wolfsschanze“. Amazon liefert die fragwürdige Devotionalie für 12,90 Euro per Prime-Versand. Geliefert wird innerhalb eines Tages bis an die Haustür. Was heißt, die Schilder kommen nicht aus den USA, sondern aus Deutschland. „Nur noch fünf Stück auf Lager“, teilt Amazons Shopping-System mit.

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Der chinesische Onlinehändler Alibaba hat Großes vor

Chinas Gigant Alibaba

Gleich darunter der Empfehlungs-Algorithmus der Seite, der entscheidend zum Erfolg von Amazons Webstore beiträgt – und der in diesem Fall verrät, dass hier nicht nur Hobby-Historiker unterwegs sind: „Kunden, die diesen Artikel gekauft haben, kauften auch“.

Die Empfehlungsliste ist lang: Da gibt es Propaganda-Schilder für Volkssturm und Winterhilfswerk im Angedenken des „Tags der Wehrmacht am 17. März 1940“. Oder Nachbildungen von Stielhandgranaten, mitsamt der dazugehörigen Gürtel mit Koppelschloss, die als Teil der Wehrmacht-Felduniform ab 1936 getragen wurden.

Alles, was gerade noch legal ist

Auch Flaggen mit der Aufschrift „Gott mit uns“ und Reichsadler auf Kreuz, Logo und Spruch, finden sich zuhauf. Viele dieser Waren sind auf Fotos von rechtsextremen Demonstrationen dokumentiert. Allesamt bei Amazon verfügbar und per Prime versandkostenfrei erhältlich.

Das umfangreiche Sortiment für Liebhaber brauner Dekoware verdankt Amazon einigen Dutzend Versandshops mit auffällig rechtem Angebot, die Amazons Marketplace-Angebot für sich nutzen. Wo Käufer ihre braune Ware früher in Webshops zweifelhafter Herkunft erwerben mussten, liefert Amazon heute unkompliziert.

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Kameras von Google, Amazon, Facebook: Datenschützer wittern einen Big Brother der neuesten Generation

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Verkauft wird dabei alles, was gerade noch legal ist – wo im Original Hakenkreuze prangten, steht jetzt das eiserne Kreuz, die Plakate und Blechschilder sind fein säuberlich retuschiert. Sogar die „Wolfsangel“-Rune als Schmuckstück ist per Amazon-Versand zu haben, das Symbol ist in der Dokumentation „Rechtsextremismus – Symbole und Zeichen“ des Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz als verboten gelistet, jedoch nur im Zusammenhang mit rechter Propaganda. Wer die Wolfsangel als Schmuckstück tragen möchte, weil er nordische Runen mag, kann sie legal bei Amazon kaufen.

Einige Produkte sind nicht mehr erhältlich

„Zeichen wie die ‚Schwarze Sonne‘ sind nationalsozialistische Ersatzsymbole“, sagt der Sozialwissenschaftler David Begrich von der Arbeitsstelle Rechtsextremismus des Vereins Miteinander. „Die Nachfrage nach neuen rechtsextremen Symbolen, die für Außenstehende nicht sofort eindeutig erkennbar sind, ist groß – und dem Einfallsreichtum und der Geschmacklosigkeit sind keine Grenzen gesetzt.“

Dass Amazon im Geschäft mit Nazi-Mode mitverdient, hatte vor einem halben Jahr der Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland kritisiert, damals gelobte Amazons deutsche Dependance Besserung. Jetzt reagiert deren Sprecher auf Anfrage von WELT AM SONNTAG mit einer lapidaren Antwort.

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Amazon-Verkaufspartner sind unabhängige Unternehmen und müssen sich an unsere Verkaufsbedingungen halten, wenn sie in unserem Store verkaufen.“ Erlange Amazon Kenntnis über einen Verstoß, ergreife die Firma entsprechende Maßnahmen, „die die Schließung des Kontos beinhalten können“.

Einige der fraglichen Produkte seien nicht mehr erhältlich, heißt es bei Amazon. Hunderte sind es bei Druck dieser Ausgabe aber trotzdem.

Das ganze Interview lesen Sie in der WELT AM SONNTAG. Wir liefern sie Ihnen gerne regelmäßig nach Hause.

Quelle: Welt am Sonntag

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Webwelt & Technik – WELT