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Amazon Brings Counterfeit-Fighting Tool To New Markets

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Amazon is expanding its anti-counterfeiting program, called Transparency, to Europe, India and Canada, according to a report by TechCrunch.

The program works by adding a T-shaped QR-like code to items to serialize them and help to identify when the item is fake, both on Amazon’s side and the buyer side.

“Counterfeiting is an industry-wide concern — both online and offline. We find the most effective solutions to prevent counterfeit are based on partnerships that combine Amazon’s technology innovation with the sophisticated knowledge and capabilities of brands,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vice president, Amazon Customer Trust and Partner Support. “We created Transparency  to provide brands with a simple, scalable solution that empowers brands and Amazon to authenticate products within the supply chain, stopping counterfeit before it reaches a customer.”

The program is about two years old and hasn’t grown rapidly, as this is the first time it’s being offered outside the United States. It started with Amazon’s own products and then expanded to third-party items. While it’s going to be available in more markets, the app for users to scan their own items will remain only available in the U.S.

Participation in the program has been good but not all-encompassing. Amazon claims that about 4,000 brands have enrolled in the service, which means that there are about 300 million codes out there. Amazon said this has led to stopping around 250,000 counterfeit sales of items.

Amazon doesn’t disclose the number of brands on its platform, and the company has about 450 of its own. The counterfeiting problem is a serious one: In June, a New York Times article illustrated how a medical publisher figured out that one of its books used to help doctors prescribe medicine to patients was being rampantly counterfeited. 

“Amazon’s proactive approach and investment in tools like Transparency have allowed us to grow consumer confidence in our products and prevent inauthentic product from ending up in the hands of our customers,” said Matt Petersen, chief executive officer at Neato Robotics, a maker of smart robotic vacuum cleaners.

Bill Mei, CEO of Cowin, a company that makes noise-canceling audio devices, said the program worked well.

“Blocking counterfeits from the source has always been a tough task for us — it’s something all brand owners face through nearly all channels around the world,” said Mei. “After we joined Transparency, our counterfeit problem just disappeared for products protected by the program.”

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