With great power comes great authenticity - A look into Amazon Project Zero

It might come as no surprise that as a platform for millions of third parties to sell products on, Amazon.com has its share of accounts selling fake or counterfeit products of well-known brands. In fact, it has become a constant concern for both Amazon and its sellers, with certain brands hesitating to sell on the e-commerce site altogether – such as Swatch. Amazon obviously wants to persuade these hesitant brands to make the jump, and hope Project Zero will do so. Only applied in the US at the moment, Amazon’s Project Zero aims to remove counterfeits from the site as quickly as possible making a concern of authenticity a thing of the past for Amazon customers.

It is estimated that 13% of the products sold on Amazon are fakes

Amazon does already have an Anti-Counterfeiting Policy where any counterfeit products being sold on the site will lead to the loss of selling privileges, funds being withheld and the destruction of any of the fake products in their fulfilment centres. However, this policy relies heavily on Amazon being notified by concerned users of the site and a team having to evaluate the claim before finally removing the listing. This obviously takes a lot of time and isn’t efficient enough to keep up with the number of claims Amazon gets a day.

Amazon Project Zero aims to avoid this issue by allowing trusted brands a way to remove counterfeit listings on the marketplace themselves without waiting for Amazon’s approval. This obviously comes with several benefits including creating a bond between the brand and Amazon, a much faster anti-counterfeit campaign and will also relieve the number of claims Amazon’s infringement teams have to deal with. That isn’t to say that Amazon will leave the removal of fake products up to the brands entirely, Amazon has built algorithms that will continuously scan the site and automatically remove any suspected counterfeits. It considers brand logos, trademarks and other key data about the brand and scans over 5 billion product listing updates daily. The algorithm also learns from the listings that the brand themselves have removed, making the automated protection more efficient and reliable.

On average, Amazon Project Zero’s automated protections stop 100 times more suspected counterfeit products than reactive removal

Project Zero will also give brands an option to attach a unique serial number to products to avoid counterfeits reaching Amazon customers. Amazon originally relied on easy-to-fake serial numbers to identify products. Now brands who participate in Amazon Project Zero’s product serialization service can ultimately stop fake copies of their products from ever leaving the warehouse. If a product has an exclusive Amazon serial number, then it can be scanned and confirmed as authentic before shipping.

Currently, Amazon Project Zero is an invite-only program, but it’s allowing brands to enrol their products onto a waitlist. In order to be eligible, brands must have a government registered trademark and have their brand listed in Amazon’s Brand registry. It is free to enrol in and brands will eventually get access to automated protection, and use of the self-service counterfeit removal tool. Brands that decide to use the product serialization service must pay a cost between $0.01 and $0.05 per unit, based on volume. Although a small fee, brands that are large but relatively inexpensive might find this added cost difficult to endure and might want to ascertain if it is the correct action to take for them.

Amazon Project Zero offers registered brands the tools needed to protect their brand on Amazon. By giving authority to key brand names, Amazon will hopefully eliminate fake products they become aware of, and begin proactively removing listings before any sellers are tricked into buying anything counterfeit. With Amazon constantly expanding and broadening its third-party seller platform, such a project is inevitable. It will take some time to see if this initiative will be fully implemented in other international Amazon marketplaces such as the UK. Perhaps most importantly it will be a testament to the Amazon name if they can successfully end the marketplace’s counterfeit issues once and for all.

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