The retailer aims to fix that – in part by providing brands the capacity to flag knockoffs and fast-track their removal from its online market.
Amazon on Thursday introduced”Project Zero,” that will allow participating brands to utilize a self explanatory instrument to take down bogus listings. The initiative streamlines a process that demanded brands to make a report, then wait for Amazon to investigate and take action. The tool is now only available by invitation, but Amazon said it intends to open this up to other brands shortly.
“This provides brands an unparalleled ability to directly control and eliminate listings from our store,” the firm wrote in a press launch . “This information also feeds into our automated protections so we can better grab prospective bogus listings proactively in the long run.”
It’s an unprecedented move for Amazon, that has come under fire – particularly from major brands – for not taking a more active role in combating counterfeits. Although Amazon prohibits the selling of counterfeit products on its platform, the e-commerce giant was accused of reaping the rewards of those sales while shifting blame to the third-party retailers which sell them.
Amazon’s gigantic third-party marketplace has long been a virtual wild west, partly due to the ease of entry. Merchants can register on Amazon with contact information, a company name and fundamental financial advice such as a bank account and credit card.
Such retailers represent a huge discussion of Amazon’s business; in 2017, more than half of the products sold on the site came from such vendors according to a letter from chief executive Jeff Bezos, printed in April. (Bezos possesses The Washington Post.) As Amazon’s market was flooded with overseas retailers and retailers, it’s made it tougher to keep tabs on sellers peddling fake products.
The Counterfeit Report, advocacy group which works with companies to stop the selling of counterfeit products, says on its website that an estimated 13 percent of all products sold on Amazon are imitation. The team says e-commerce is the ideal way of distribution for counterfeit products.
The standing for halfhearted authorities has cost Amazon company, too, particularly from luxury brands. Daimler, the German automaker and parent company of Mercedes-Benz, accused Amazon of allowing the selling of fake Mercedes-Benz wheel caps at a November 2017 lawsuit.
Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group, also has slammed Amazon, stating Chinese rival Alibaba was more committed to battling fakes. Swatch had been in talks to sell some of its own high-value watches Amazon, but the deal fell apart when Amazon refused to agree to proactive measures against counterfeits and unscrupulous retailers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“They refuse to enter into discussion because they have, I think, 10,000 of lawyers that say,’Please, we in Amazon, we should not enter into anything that should force us to struggle against fakes,'” Hayek stated in an April interview with CNBC.
The Project Zero rollout is based on the heels of Amazon’s first public acknowledgement of the”risk factor” that criminal third-party merchants pose to its business. In early February, Amazon acknowledged it”may be unable” to keep sellers from making money off counterfeits, according to a SEC filing.
“To the extent that some of this occurs, it may harm our company or harm our reputation and we can face civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities by our vendors,” Amazon wrote in the filing.
As part of Project Zero, Amazon has been analyzing automated enforcement steps that use information from brands, like trademarks and logos, to search down imitation goods in its own market. The Seattle-based company asserts the automatic protections”proactively cease 100 times more suspected counterfeit products” than responding to individual reports .
The codes can then be scanned when goods make it into Amazon warehouses to ensure they haven’t been duplicated. But it’s up to manufacturers to place the codes in their merchandise during the production process, and codes price you to five cents a pop, based upon volume, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal.
“We’re excited to get this self-evident counterfeit elimination tool to the US Marketplace and take action for an insurance plan.”