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How to Protect Your Amazon Brand From Counterfeits

eCommerce has empowered millions of small and medium-sized enterprises to reach a global audience. Amazon, especially, has become synonymous with online retail, providing a digital marketplace for sellers to target a vast spectrum of industries and niches. Unfortunately, it’s also given rise to a destructive force: counterfeits.

These imposters do more than simply copy legitimate brands and offer substandard products — they tarnish business reputations, compromise the integrity of the marketplace, and damage the overall buyer experience.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates 3.3% of world trade is in counterfeit and pirated goods, producing billions of dollars in lost sales. Amazon isn’t immune to this trend and so has been proactive in countering counterfeits.

Keep reading to learn more about Amazon’s measures to combat fakes and how you can protect your brand against imposters.

Countering counterfeits on Amazon

Since the company’s inception, Amazon has been at the forefront in the fight against counterfeit products. Recognizing the immense harm they cause to the eCommerce ecosystem, Amazon has initiated numerous programs to mitigate these imposters as much as possible, including:

  • Brand Registry program: Allows brands to register their logos and intellectual property with Amazon, making it easier for the platform to remove counterfeit listings
  • Transparency: Product serialization service that prevents counterfeits from reaching customers
  • Project Zero: Uses machine learning to scan listings and remove suspected counterfeits automatically, putting more power in the hands of the brands
  • Amazon report infringement form: Designed to provide a channel for owners of intellectual property rights and their representatives to alert Amazon about potential violations

What is the INFORM Act?

A new U.S. law designed to protect consumers and small businesses went into effect in June 2023. The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act, also known as the INFORM Consumers Act, mandates online retailers to collect, verify, and disclose information about high-volume third-party sellers.

Amazon supported this bill before its approval, advocating for a nationally consistent standard to prevent small businesses from grappling with a hodgepodge of state-level regulations.

MyFBAPrep’s co-founder, Tom Wicky, sees the legislation as a positive step forward: “I do find the legislation to be a step in a positive direction, as it will hold sellers accountable for the quality of their product — which ultimately benefits the consumer. It also will help listing quality and benefit brand owners.”

11 Ways to protect your brand from counterfeiters

We’ve compiled a list of practical strategies to help you navigate the challenge of protecting your brand from counterfeits. These are aimed at preventing fakes, preserving your brand’s reputation, and maintaining consumer trust.

1. Implement unique branding elements

More than an aesthetically pleasing logo or a catchy slogan, branding serves as a unique identifier that sets your products apart from others.

Implementing unique branding elements on your products and packaging can significantly deter counterfeiters. Consider adopting distinctive markers such as:

  • Holograms and watermarks: A hologram or a watermark that’s difficult to replicate is a strong deterrent for counterfeiters. Make sure your customers know to look for these when verifying the authenticity of your products.
  • Serial numbers or barcodes: Assigning unique serial numbers or barcodes to each product makes counterfeiting challenging. You can also use these codes to track and authenticate products, which adds another layer of protection for your brand.
  • Product or packaging design: Counterfeiters struggle to mimic intricate product or packaging designs. Opt for one that’s difficult to replicate but is easily recognizable for your customers.
  • Quality materials: Imposters often use low-quality materials to copy products. Using high-quality materials sets a standard that counterfeiters find hard to match.

2. Use QR codes

QR codes are a powerful weapon in the fight against counterfeiting. They can store a significant amount of data, are easy to use, and add an extra layer of security for your brand. For example, when a shopper scans the code with their smartphone, it can lead them to your official website or a dedicated page that confirms the product’s legitimacy.

The success of QR codes largely depends on educating your customers about their purpose and how to use them. Include instructions on your packaging and website to guide buyers. This not only safeguards your brand against counterfeiters but also provides a better customer experience.

3. Build close relationships with your customers

Engage and foster connections with your shoppers through email marketing, social media engagement, and communities. When customers feel a personal connection to your brand, they’re more likely to make repeat purchases from you rather than risk buying counterfeits. They’ll trust your products and appreciate the quality you deliver.

Plus, engaged customers are more inclined to notify you if they come across counterfeit versions of your products. They might spot these fakes on other platforms or in physical stores and alert you, allowing you to take action. Cultivating strong relationships with your customers helps detect counterfeits early so you can promptly investigate and address the issue.

4. Take advantage of Amazon’s brand protection programs

As previously discussed, Amazon developed a series of anti-counterfeit initiatives, so you should harness their power to your benefit.

Register your brand, take part in the Transparency program for product serialization, and employ Project Zero’s AI-powered tools to monitor and manage potential counterfeit listings.

5. Keep a vigilant eye on the market

Monitor your brand name and best-selling products on Amazon as well as other platforms consistently. Early detection of counterfeits can save your brand reputation and prevent revenue loss.

You can be proactive in several ways:

  • Regularly review your listings: Check your Amazon listings regularly for any unauthorized changes; counterfeiters sometimes try to hijack listings to sell their fake goods. If you notice anything suspicious, report it to Amazon immediately.
  • Track your best-selling products: Closely watch your best-selling products, as these are often the prime targets for scammers. Look for unexpected changes in sales patterns, such as sudden drops in sales, which could indicate that counterfeit versions of your product are being sold.
  • Monitor online channels: Keep an eye on your other online sales channels, such as eBay, social media, and other eCommerce sites. Counterfeiters often sell their fake products on multiple platforms.
  • Use monitoring services: Consider investing in professional monitoring services. These companies apply advanced algorithms and tools to scour the internet and identify counterfeits. They can provide real-time alerts when they detect potential infringements.

Detect and address counterfeiting activities early to minimize their impact on your brand and your customers.

6. Register intellectual property rights

Register your trademarks, patents, and copyrights when applicable. This asserts your legal ownership over your products and your brand. Should counterfeiting issues arise, having your intellectual property rights in order will provide a solid legal footing for you to take action against thieves.

7. Apply for Amazon’s A+ Content

Amazon’s A+ Content (previously known as Enhanced Brand Content) effectively makes your listings stand out from potential counterfeiters.

With A+ Content, you can provide richer product descriptions using high-quality images, text placements, and a unique brand story. Here’s how to leverage it for maximum protection:

  • Distinct product descriptions: A+ Content allows you to break away from traditional product descriptions with a unique blend of media. You can craft richer, more informative descriptions, making them harder for counterfeiters to replicate.
  • Visual elements: Including high-resolution images, 360-degree views, and videos offer a detailed view of your products, which both improves the customer’s shopping experience and serves as another obstacle for counterfeiters to duplicate.
  • Brand storytelling: Utilize the Amazon platform to share your brand story and build a deeper connection with your customers (which also fosters loyalty). A genuine brand story can’t be copied and can help differentiate you from counterfeiters.
  • Detailed product information: Leverage the additional content spaces to feature detailed product information, usage guides, comparison charts, etc. The more detailed your information, the harder it is for counterfeiters to copy it accurately.

To access Amazon’s A+ Content, you must be part of Amazon’s Brand Registry. Once you’re in the program, capitalizing on A+ Content can significantly strengthen your defense against counterfeiters and ensure a superior shopping experience for your customers.

Looking for more ways to upgrade your product listings? Check out MyFBAPrep’s strategies for show-stopping product listings.

8. Regularly test buy

Test buying is a practice where a brand owner or representative purchases their products from other sellers who also list those items. The action aims to verify the authenticity of the products being sold under the brand’s name.

When the item arrives, you examine it as well as its packaging to determine whether it’s a genuine or counterfeit product. This helps identify unauthorized sellers or counterfeiters selling fake products under your brand’s name.

If you discover a counterfeit item through a test buy, you can use that evidence to report the issue to Amazon and take legal action against the counterfeit seller, if necessary. It’s an important tool in maintaining brand integrity and customer trust.

9. Litigation

Consider taking legal action against counterfeiters when you find them. This is an aggressive approach, but it may be necessary to defend your brand in some cases. Consult with a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property rights to explore your options.

10. Educate your customers

Regularly remind your customers about how to identify genuine products. Encourage them to purchase only from your official Amazon store or authorized resellers.

It might be beneficial to show the difference between a counterfeit item and a genuine product if you can obtain a counterfeit safely. Highlighting the discrepancies in quality, design, or performance can be a powerful deterrent against counterfeit goods.

Educated customers can play a significant role in identifying and reporting counterfeit products, so invest in and leverage your consumer base for greater policing.

11. Partner with reliable fulfillment providers

The delivery leg of the shopping experience is a subtle yet powerful method of shielding your brand. Working with professional fulfillment partners like MyFBAPrep guarantees your customers a consistent and memorable unboxing experience that’s distinctly yours (and difficult to fake).

When you partner with a trustworthy fulfillment provider, your brand gains access to:

  • Uniform branding: An experienced logistics service ensures consistent branding across all your products. Elements such as branded packaging materials and even how the items are packed make your brand synonymous with a uniform unboxing experience, which counterfeiters can’t replicate easily.
  • Quality control: Reputable fulfillment providers have stringent quality control processes in place. They ensure your products are stored, handled, and packaged correctly, which reduces the chances of mix-ups or damage that could tarnish your brand image.
  • Inventory management: A reliable fulfillment provider keeps track of your inventory in detail. This prevents unauthorized sellers from introducing counterfeit products into your inventory (a practice known as commingling).
  • Smoother customer experience: Fast, reliable shipping and handling builds customer trust in your brand. In turn, they’re more likely to buy through you or your authorized sellers again rather than fall for (or seek out) counterfeit offerings.
  • Reports on suspicious activities: Fulfillment providers often notice and report if something’s amiss, such as sudden spikes in product demand or returns, which could signal counterfeit activity. Their vigilance provides an extra layer of defense for your brand.

Wrapping up — Protect your Amazon brand from counterfeits

The Amazon marketplace has established itself as the land of opportunity for entrepreneurs both new and old. “When you’re talking about third-party sellers on any marketplace in the U.S., you’re talking about a true American Dream story,” says Tom Wicky. “Many of these sellers are mom-and-pop shops that were selling their goods and services with just a local reach before making it onto a marketplace. Now, having access to millions of customers on a global scale, they’ve been given the opportunity to truly thrive.”

However, that reach comes at a price, in the form of counterfeiters and unauthorized sellers looking to capitalize on your hard work. Protecting your Amazon brand from these scammers is an ongoing battle, but you can equip yourself to fight it. With the right blend of proactive vigilance, strategic measures, and partnerships, you can significantly diminish the impact of counterfeit activity on your brand.

Every stage of your business’s shopping experience reveals opportunities to safeguard your name, from unique branding elements to educational initiatives. As you erect these durable barriers against counterfeiters, you simultaneously elevate your brand’s reputation, boost customer trust, and strengthen the overall shopping experience.