Amazon Project Zero: “Progress, But A Long Way To Go” | Total Business

Amazon recently announced ‘Project Zero’ – a new initiative that it hopes will help counteract one of its biggest criticisms: the sale of counterfeit goods on its marketplace. Here Simon Baggs, CEO at Incopro, comments on this news.

The announcement comes just weeks after the company warned investors for the first time in its annual report about the risk of fake goods to its profits, platform and reputation.

The problem for Amazon lies in its system for cataloguing listings on the platform (known as the ASIN). Many people don’t realise that any seller of a product can offer goods under the official seller’s listing. So, when a consumer searches for a product on Amazon, he/she is offered the real product from the official seller and products from other sellers that may or may not be fake. Sometimes these other sellers offer lower priced items. Are they fake or are they genuine?

Previous attempts by Amazon to help brand owners stop fake goods available on its ecommerce marketplace, such as the ‘Brand Registry‘ programme, have focused on offering faster removal when fakes are spotted by the brand owner. So why is Project Zero any different?

With this initiative, removal is still left to the brand owner, but Amazon is offering tools to help the brand identify fake goods and remove them directly from the platform. It is also offering a scheme to check serialisation codes on packaging if the brand owner introduces these.

The initiative is welcome, but constraints remain:

  • Enrolment is invitation-only to brands currently signed-up to Amazon’s Brand Registry.
  • Brands that do not own trademarks and instead rely on design rights or patents when enforcing their rights are shut out.
    Broader brand misuse is not tackled – for example the sale of products that a brand owner does not even itself make but that are promoted using the brand.
  • The brand owner has no means of prioritising the bigger sellers and the repeat sellers – if a seller is repeatedly counterfeiting the brand, this needs to be tracked and prioritised.
  • Without prioritisation, the enforcement process can be time consuming and ineffective in delivering real change.

Automated, AI-based brand protection technology ensures that brands can prioritise the top offenders. By automating the enforcement process, brand owners can save time and achieve impact on the problem. Using Amazon’s tools in combination with smart automation is the best way to make a real difference.

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Simon Baggs noted that all online marketplaces have an issue with counterfeits.

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Online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, are fertile ground for fraudsters selling fake goods at knockdown prices to eager shoppers