Amazon Moves to End the Scourge of Fake Goods on Its Platform

The retailer aims to correct that – in part by providing brands the power to flag knockoffs and fast-track their elimination from its online marketplace.

Amazon on Thursday introduced”Project Zero,” that will allow participating brands to utilize a self explanatory tool to take down counterfeit listings. The initiative streamlines a process that required brands to make a report, then wait for Amazon to research and take action. The tool is currently only available by invite, but Amazon said it intends to open it up to other brands soon.

“This provides brands an unprecedented capability to control and eliminate listings from our shop,” the firm wrote in a press release. “This information also feeds into our automated protections so we could better catch potential counterfeit listings proactively in the long run.”

It’s an unprecedented movement for Amazon, that has come under fire – especially from leading brands – for not taking a more active part in combating counterfeits. Although Amazon prohibits the sale of counterfeit goods on its platform, the e-commerce giant has been accused of reaping the benefits of those sales while shifting blame to the third-party retailers which sell them.

Amazon’s massive third-party market has long been a virtual wild west, partially due to the ease of entry. Merchants can register on Amazon with contact information, a business name and basic financial information like a bank account and credit card.

Such merchants represent a massive share of Amazon’s business; at 2017, more than half of the products sold on the site came from such sellers in accordance with a letter from chief executive Jeff Bezos, printed in April. (Bezos possesses The Washington Post.) As Amazon’s market has been flooded with overseas retailers and retailers, it has made it tougher to keep tabs sellers peddling fake goods.

The Counterfeit Report, advocacy group which works with companies to stop the sale of counterfeit products, states on its site that an estimated 13 percent of all products sold on Amazon are imitation. The team says e-commerce is the ideal means of supply for fake products.

The reputation for halfhearted enforcement has price Amazon company, too, especially from luxury brands. Birkenstock yanked its footwear from Amazon in 2016, whining the glut of lower-priced knockoffs on the stage was damaging its brand. Daimler, the German automaker and parent firm of Mercedes-Benz, accused Amazon of allowing the sale of fake Mercedes-Benz wheel caps at a November 2017 lawsuit.

Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group, also has slammed Amazon, stating Chinese rival Alibaba was committed to battling fakes.

“They refuse to enter into conversation because they have, I believe, 10,000 of attorneys that say,’Pleasewe in Amazon, we should not enter into anything that should force us to fight against fakes,'” Hayek stated in an April interview with CNBC.

The Project Zero rollout is based on the heels of Amazon’s first public acknowledgement of this”risk factor” that criminal third party merchants pose to its business.

“To the extent that some of the occurs, it may damage our company or damage our reputation and we could face criminal or civil liability for unlawful actions by our vendors,” Amazon composed in the filing.

As part of Project Zero, Amazon was analyzing automated enforcement steps that use information from brands, like trademarks and logos, to search down fake goods in its own marketplace. The Seattle-based company asserts the automatic protections”proactively stop 100 times more suspected counterfeit products” than responding to individual reports .

The codes can then be scanned when products make it into Amazon warehouses to guarantee they have not been duplicated. Nonetheless, it’s up to manufacturers to place the codes in their merchandise during the manufacturing process, and codes price one to five cents a pop, based upon quantity, according to coverage from the Wall Street Journal.

“We are excited to have this self-service counterfeit elimination instrument to the US Marketplace and consider this for an insurance policy.”

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