Amazon is the biggest online marketplace that has given small businesses a chance to grow beyond national boundaries. However, the platform has also proved to be a great attraction for counterfeit product sellers. When counterfeiters use a platform like Amazon to sell their fake goods, it ends up hurting buyers and sellers both. For buyers, they pay for a premium product but get a subpar duplicate of it. The sellers end up taking the blame for selling low-quality products and destroying their brand reputation as a result.
Counterfeit Products Market Is Scary
Consumers might not know their favorite brands are fighting a hard battle against counterfeiters. More importantly, they are losing this battle and seem to stand no chance against fake product sellers. The recent Global Brand Counterfeiting Report 2018 shows the counterfeit market has swollen up to become a $1.2 trillion market. Additionally, statistics from 2017 reveal that the clothing industry is the one getting the most powerful hit from counterfeiters as 12% all the cases that involve counterfeits are clothing items.
While it may seem to some that counterfeiters live in the underground world, the reality is that huge websites such as Amazon have an infestation of counterfeiters too. Recently, federal investigators bought 47 different items from the biggest online retailers including Amazon and found out that 20 of them were fake.
Amazon Is Not Safe
While Amazon has its policies against counterfeiters, it seems the counterfeiters are too clever for the biggest internet retail giant to catch. Some large companies have heavily criticized Amazon in the recent years for utterly failing at catching or even preventing counterfeiters from selling on its website. One of the cases that received a lot of attention is that of Elevation Lab. The company makes a product called Anchor, a hook that you can attach to your desk and hang your headphones on, which a counterfeiter sold for a week without any confrontation. The founder of the company, Casey Hopkins, was infuriated at the incident and reprimanded the retail giant for being so neglectful.
What makes matters worse is that counterfeit manufacturers use special interest groups to leave fake reviews on various marketplace platforms like Amazon and Walmart. Various experts have analyzed reviews on Amazon and have concluded that fake reviews have increased significantly in the past couple of years. More importantly, these reviews appear within hours of the product’s appearance on Amazon.
Buyers and Sellers Are Receiving the Damage
Counterfeiting is eating away the profits of big brands and depriving buyers of their money. When it comes to the sellers, they end up losing their brand reputation when customers purchase and use fake products that are of lower quality. It is noteworthy here that the seller loses trust in the eyes of the customers as well as the companies that are authorized retailers.
In addition to the growing number of counterfeiters, it is getting more difficult for sellers to compete against the counterfeiters for their own products because the algorithms on Amazon promote and favor sellers with the lowest price, which results in a faster velocity, which then gives them an even bigger advantage because Amazon’s algorithm favors faster sales velocity; it’s a vicious cycle.
Recently in Canada officials believe that counterfeit consumer good sellers are doing a business of around $30 billion. In a nutshell, today’s sellers are fighting not only for brand exposure but brand protection as well.
As for buyers, they hear about a product, and based on its popularity. They go the Amazon, search for the products, and end up ordering the one that’s priced the lowest to grab the best deal. As a result, they end up buying a rip-off of the original product.
The counterfeit market has a bigger impact beyond monetary loss to brands and consumers and is affecting society in more ways than they can realize. For instance, in Europe, it is costing the continent nearly 363,000 direct jobs. Moreover, the fear of buying fake products is so high in Chinese shoppers that 96% of them don’t think they are buying real products from online websites.
Amazon Is Trying
It is not to say that Amazon has not done anything to fight the counterfeit sellers. A couple of years ago, Amazon introduced a feature for sellers called Brand Registry. Amazon polished this feature a year later to help real businesses separate themselves from fakes. In an official statement from Amazon, the retail giant claimed to take measures against 95% of the counterfeit notices in less than 10 hours. The company also claimed that its Brand Registry feature helped reduce counterfeit reports from its sellers by 99%.
But in reality, Brand Registry does not stop counterfeiters from actually selling fake goods as third-party sellers at a cheaper price. Furthermore, Brand Registry doesn’t work because it only registers the real owners of the brand, and thus still fails to notify the users of the authenticity of the products from third-party sellers.
Bonafi Has Found a Solution
Bonafi’s ingenious way of putting an end to the counterfeiting market seems the most promising solution today. The solution is in the form of an NFC Crypto-Tag™ that is issued to the real owners and manufacturers of the IP, patents, and trademarks of the product and that it attaches to the product to be scanned by a phone App to show its authenticity. The best thing about this solution is that it won’t require customers to remember a dozen different signs to tell a fake product from the real one. The brands will be able to regain and reclaim their territory, and the profits they have lost to the counterfeiting market for several years.