Amazon eyes stricter product registration to fight fakes

E-commerce giant Amazon is pledging to make 2017 the year of banishing fakes from its platforms under a new initiative, according to reports.

The effort, first reported by Bloomberg, involves the development of teams in the US and Europe that will work with brands to make a stricter registration process for placing products online, making this a top priority for 2017.

Currently, that process is rather flexible where the onus is on brands to inform the online marketplace of the presence of fake goods before Amazon can remove them. Yet despite being booted off, the counterfeiters can easily jump back on under new accounts with slightly different details.

Amazon's new plans seek to make this registration process stricter by having sellers register with Amazon and prove they have the brand's permission to sell the brand-name goods online.

"Sellers who list products from select brands must pay up to a [one-time, non-refundable] $1,500 fee" and "must provide three purchase invoices from the manufacturer or distributor and a letter from the manufacturer authorising the retailer to sell its products", according to

Even merchants who currently don't sell on Amazon will be included in the brand registry initiative, which aims to cover thousands of companies by 2017.

A pilot of the system is being trialled with Nike and a few other brands.

While counterfeit criticisms have been plaguing Amazon for some time now, reports suggest that the new initiative was born out of actions by the National Football League and Major League Baseball, where they imposed bans on selling goods via third-party marketplaces amid concerns Amazon was being lacklustre in its approach to fakes.

"It is our responsibility to provide our fans with reliable and secure marketplaces to purchase officially licensed merchandise. Given the rampant growth of online-only retailers supplying counterfeit merchandise, our policies must hold every distribution partner to that same level of commitment," The MLB said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The NFL and NBA moves followed counterfeit concerns by shoe maker Birkenstock, which pulled its products from Amazon in January. Meanwhile tech giant Apple and music industry group the American Association of Independent Music have both recently claimed there were serious counterfeiting operations on the e-commerce site.

Amazon has been slowly ramping up efforts to tackle fakes on its platforms. In the summer it introduced listing fees and other administrative measures and earlier this month it filed two lawsuits against two vendors allegedly selling fake goods.

According to a recent report by CNET, the e-commerce site was also working on a new suite of digital tools to help protect smaller sellers.

"Amazon has zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeit items on our siteā€¦ we are aggressively pursuing bad actors," Amazon said in a statement.

Amazon has more than two million independent sellers, and goods sold by third-party merchants account for almost 40 per cent of all products sold on the site. Figures on the proportion of counterfeiters masquerading as genuine sellers is unknown.

Image courtesy of Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock

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