Amazon isn’t any stranger to the nefarious forces of e-commerce: faux opinions, counterfeit items and scams have all reared their heads on its market in a single place or one other, with some even accusing it of turning a blind eye to them since, technically, Amazon income from any transactions, not simply the legit ones. The firm has been working to combat that picture, although, and at present it introduced its newest growth in that mission: it introduced that Transparency — a program to serialize merchandise offered on its platform with a T-shaped QR-style code to determine when an merchandise is counterfeit — is increasing to Europe, India and Canada. (More element on the way it truly works under.)
“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,” mentioned Dharmesh Mehta, vp, Amazon Customer Trust and Partner Support, in an announcement. “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 progress of Transparency has been fairly gradual up to now: it has taken greater than two years for Amazon to supply the service exterior of the US market, the place it launched first with Amazon’s personal merchandise in March 2017 after which expanded to third-party gadgets. Even at present, whereas Transparency is launching to sellers in additional markets, the app for customers to scan the gadgets themselves continues to be solely obtainable within the US, in line with Amazon’s FAQ.
In that point, take-up has been okay however not huge. Amazon says that some 4,000 manufacturers have enrolled in this system, overlaying 300 million distinctive codes, resulting in Amazon halting greater than 250,000 counterfeit gross sales (these would have been faux variations of legit gadgets and types enrolled within the Transparency program).
There is a few proof that each one this works. Amazon says that 2019, for merchandise totally on-boarded into the Transparency service, there have been zero studies of counterfeit from manufacturers or prospects who bought these merchandise on Amazon.
But how large ranging that’s, although, in comparison with the larger drawback, will not be fairly clear. While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparability — Amazon doesn’t disclose collectively what number of manufacturers are offered on its platform, though Amazon itself accounts for 450 manufacturers itself — there are some 2.5 million sellers on its platform globally, and my guess is that 4,000 is only a small fraction of Amazon’s branded universe.
Recent developments have put an elevated concentrate on what function Amazon has been taking part in to maintain in examine rampant exercise round counterfeiting and different criminality.
The NYT printed a damning expose in June that highlighted how one medical writer discovered rampant counterfeiting of one in all its books, a information for medical doctors prescribing drugs to assist them decide dosages of medicine, an alarming state of affairs contemplating the subject material. Regulators just like the FCC have additionally taken motion to ask Amazon (amongst others like eBay) to make a greater effort to take away the sale of merchandise in particular classes, resembling faux pay-TV containers.
Coupled with other forms of dodgy exercise on the platform like faux opinions, Amazon has been making extra strikes of late to get a grip and create extra channels for manufacturers and sellers to assist themselves, from product launches and expansions, to taking authorized measures to go after dangerous actors.
Transparency is a part of former class, and it sits alongside one of many firm’s different current, massive initiatives known as Project Zero, an AI-based steady monitoring of merchandise and actions launched 4 months in the past to proactively determine counterfeit sellers and gadgets on the platform.
Transparency works by means of a singular code — which seems to be a bit like a “T” — printed on every manufactured unit. When a buyer orders the product, Amazon scans the code to confirm that the product it’s transport is legit. Customers can even scan the code after receiving the merchandise to confirm authenticity. Other particulars which are encoded within the T are manufacturing date, manufacturing place, and different product data like elements.
This system additionally throws some mild on a number of the unusual workings of e-commerce, provide chains, and the way marketplaces function.
On Amazon, an merchandise you purchase that is likely to be branded — say, a North Face jacket — might not truly be offered by North Face itself, however a reseller. And these resellers may as possible by no means even contact the merchandise: they’re working off inventory that’s distributed from one other place altogether, or maybe manufactured and despatched in bulk to Amazon or one other fulfilment supplier that sends the merchandise when the order is made. All of those tradeoffs inside the provide chain create an setting the place counterfeit items may creep in.
Amazon’s system, by working immediately with manufacturers and never sellers, is attempting to supply an over-arching stage of monitoring and management into the combo, and it notes in its announcement that its Transparency codes are trackable “regardless of where customers purchased their units.”
Ironically for a service known as “Transparency”, Amazon doesn’t appear to checklist the value for sellers to make use of this service, however 4 months in the past, when Amazon launched Project Zero, we reported that the serialization service are charged between $0.01 and $0.05 per unit, based mostly on quantity. It’s a worth that particularly smaller manufacturers, that are even much less resistant to copycats than well-capitalized massive manufacturers, are keen to pay:
“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,” mentioned Matt Petersen, Chief Executive Officer at Neato Robotics, a maker of good robotic vacuum cleaners, in an announcement.
“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,” mentioned Bill Mei, Chief Executive Officer at Cowin, a producer of noise cancelling audio units, in his personal assertion. “After we joined Transparency, our counterfeit problem just disappeared for products protected by the program.”

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