How to Spot Counterfeit Products on Amazon

Adriana Hernandez

Amazon has become the one-stop, destination superstore of the millennial, baby boomer and all other generations. As Amazon continues to grow and evolve, it will certainly experience growing pains, one of which is controlling the sale of counterfeit items on Amazon. Although Amazon has implemented recent measures to prevent or significantly reduce the number of counterfeits sold, there are still many consumers that will fall victim to purchasing counterfeit items.

What’s At the Source of the Counterfeit Problem?

Amazon’s third-party marketplace allows for merchants to set up accounts and sell items with very little to no regulation. What this leads to is a mix of re-sellers that have not been verified to have permission to re-sell brand name products. Why not put more proactive regulations on what merchants can and can’t sell on the e-commerce site? Financially, it is much more beneficial to Amazon since technically, they’re just supplying the platform from which vendors sell products; they are not the ones supplying the products in most cases thus removing all liability regarding the authenticity of a product. This is an argument that Amazon and e-commerce retailers like eBay have had to argue and defend in court. In 2017 Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz filed litigation against Amazon in October for being the seller of what they alleged to be counterfeit wheel caps. Daimler also alleged that Amazon hasn’t shown or made any good faith efforts to regulate or implement a proactive approach in managing counterfeits.

The Counterfeit Report (TCR), an advocacy group that works with brands to detect fake goods, has found around 58,000 counterfeit products on Amazon since May 2016.

Given the current situation of the Amazon marketplace there are still several factors you can take into account before purchasing a product that will help spare you from the fate of falling victim to purchasing counterfeit items.

The Price is Lower Than Expected (Too Good to be True)

Taking a minute to do a price comparison from several different retailers is one way to identify if a product may be “too good to be true.” The likelihood that a major brand such as Nike or Adidas would offer any of their shoes at a significantly reduced price than what is listed on their own website, is unlikely unless there is a a good reason. For example, you may find older version of a shoe being sold at a discounted price by an eBay seller which may make sense in this case because the demand is likely much higher for the current version of the shoe.

The Customer Product Reviews Seem Inauthentic

Most major e-commerce retailers have now implemented a strict policy against soliciting consumers for reviews, however, there are still some that will continue to work around this policy. If you notice a product only has positive reviews or if the wording sounds unnatural, the product has a higher potential for being counterfeit. The ‘verified purchase’ label which identifies that a review is from someone who actually purchased the item on Amazon is a great way to weed out potential fake or skewed reviews.

 

Does the Seller You’re Purchasing From Seem Legit?

Yet another way to spot potentially suspicious sellers is simply by taking a deeper dive into their online presence. One thing you can quickly look up is their selling history on Amazon. To do this all you need to do is click on the hyperlinked name typically identified with the phrase ‘sold by’ preceding the name of the seller.

 

 

 

This will allow you to quickly see other items the seller may have for sale and read reviews from other buyers. If the seller has all but a handful of products for sale that don’t seem to correlate or fall within the same category, take precaution. Another way to find out the reputation of the seller is simply by doing a quick Google search and noting their online presence or lack thereof.

What is Amazon Doing to Resolve the Counterfeit Problem?

Amazon has stated that one of its main goals for last year in its fight to prevent counterfeits is to create a registry with brands that would require any vendors to prove they’re authorized to sell that product. In 2016, Amazon rolled out a program that required third-party sellers on the site to pay a fee of $1000 up to $1500 and provide proof of purchase to list items from certain brands such as Adidas, Nike, and Samsung to name a few. While the implementation of the Brand Registry program leaves much to be desired, it is at least a small step in the right direction. Controlling who sells your brand and whether or not they “have a right” to sell it is still very difficult, if not impossible for most brands. Again, this can be considered a positive, albeit reactive, step for Amazon, but there is still work to do in creating a proactive approach that will benefit both brands and consumers in the battle against counterfeits.

Other online retailers such as eBay have implemented programs to prevent counterfeits such as VeRo which allow intellectual property owners and their authorized sellers to report eBay listings that may be fake. Another e-commerce site, Alibaba created the Big Data Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance which includes 20 international brands. The goal of this alliance, according to Alibaba, is to use technology as a proactive approach to identify and remove counterfeits rather than simply react. As a result of the launch of the alliance by Alibaba, there have been seizures valued at upwards of $207 million worth of fake goods.

In conclusion, removing counterfeits from Amazon will be an enormous task, requiring a multifaceted approach, and one for which there is no easy solution. For consumers, awareness of the issue paired with a general knowledge of what to look for can help to reduce counterfeit goods sold. If your business on Amazon is suffering due to counterfeit goods, or you feel your business could benefit from a trusted Amazon partner, contact Zanoma here today to learn more about how we can help you succeed.

Sources: Forbes.com , https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/04/amazon-may-have-a-counterfeit-problem/558482/ , https://www.engadget.com/2018/05/31/fulfilled-by-amazon-counterfeit-fake/