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Transparency Barcodes: What They Are And How To Use Them To Protect Your Brand

What is the Amazon Transparency Program?

Amazon selling is often touted as one of the biggest opportunities of the century, pulling in 98 million monthly mobile users and $1.29 billion in sales daily.

But not even Amazon is perfect. In 2020 alone, Amazon “seized and destroyed” over 2 million counterfeit items sent to its FBA warehouses.

Despite Amazon’s best efforts, counterfeiting still threatens Amazon sellers and the platform. In a bid to eradicate fake goods on the platform, Amazon launched the Transparency Program. One of its most notable features is the Transparency Barcode.

Like many, you may be wondering what it is and how the barcodes work. And, more importantly, where can you get your hands on some?

These are just a few of the questions we’ll answer in this post. If you want the full scoop on Transparency barcodes, stick around.

What is the Amazon Transparency Program?

The Transparency Program is a product sterilization service launched by Amazon.

What started out as a bid to curb fake goods infiltrating their ecosystem in 2017, has now transformed into a full-scale security initiative.

The Transparency Program now also has platform procedures to stop harmful actions by criminals, like blocking and removing hijackers, and solutions to drive customer engagement and supply chain optimization while keeping goods safe.

Transparency is currently available in India, the UK, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Australia, but Amazon aims to expand this list in the future.

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What are Transparency Barcodes?

In the Amazon Brand Protection Report, Amazon shared more details on one of its most recent security measures on the platform; Transparency Barcodes.

Transparency Barcodes are 2D QR codes designed to help authenticate a product before shipping to customers.

How do Transparency Barcodes work?

Once enrolled in the Amazon Transparency program, the product protection measures begin. Here are some typical steps you’ll encounter:

  • Amazon provides you with T-shaped 2D QR code stickers which go on Transparency enabled products.
  • FBA and FBM sellers can take advantage of Transparency barcodes, the difference being that the latter will need to provide a unique Transparency code for each of their Transparency-enabled listings.
  • This code will be provided to you by Amazon beforehand, acting as an additional verification to ensure the goods are real.
  • Whether you’re an FBM or FBA seller, each barcode you get is unique to the SKU.
  • You (or your fulfillment provider or Amazon’s prep service) will attach the barcode to your product packaging.
  • For FBA orders, Amazon’s operatives use a purpose-built app to scan an item to check its authenticity before shipping it.
  • Amazon scans the barcode to verify the product’s authenticity before fulfillment.
  • If the goods register as authentic, Amazon preps them for shipping. If they don’t register as authentic or don’t have a barcode, they are earmarked for further investigation and set aside as a potential counterfeit item.
  • Amazon has also empowered shoppers with a mobile app that shoppers can use to scan items to check if the product is the real deal. The app will show a green tick for authentic goods and a red cross for fakes.

How much do Transparency Barcodes cost, and what’s the catch?

Amazon hasn’t given any hard figures on the cost of Transparency barcodes. However, word on Amazon selling streets suggests you could pay $0.01-$0.05 per label.

While there’s no “catch” with Transparency Barcodes, there are some strict rules to follow. For example:

You can:   

  • Use the Transparency barcodes on all the SKUs with active listings on Amazon.
  • Print the barcodes at home, with a supplier or manufacturer, in-house, via Amazon prep services, or via your 3PL.

You can’t:

  • Sell or give your Transparency barcodes to another brand.
  • Get Transparency barcodes from anywhere other than Amazon.

Qualify for Transparency Barcodes: The enrolment requirements

It’s simple to process to get on to the Transparency Program and gain access to the Transparency Barcodes. Here’s what you need to get the green light:

  • Possess a registered trademark.
  • Have a valid Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), e.g., EAN, UPC, or ISBN.
  • Have the capacity to attach Transparency Barcodes to every product you manufacture, whether it’s sold or not.

You can apply via Amazon online application portal.

3 Solid reasons why using Transparency Barcodes is a must

Like most growing brands, you’ve probably got a lengthy list of projects you’d like to invest in. But there aren’t enough resources to go around, so you must choose wisely. With this, you may question whether investing in Transparency Barcodes is worth it. In short, yes, it is! Here are a few reasons why:

1. Protect your brand reputation

A lot of time, money, and effort goes into establishing a brand and building rankings on Amazon’s SERPs. So, it’s essential you’re proactive in safeguarding your assets which includes your goods, sales, and reputation. Transparency Barcodes are a great starting point and can kickstart your journey to more sophisticated security for your Amazon business.

2. Deter counterfeiters to boost revenue

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” While there’s no way for you to stop criminals, the rationale behind Transparency Barcodes is if you make it hard for counterfeiters to ambush your goods, they will move on. This approach prevents losing sales to bad actors, increasing your revenue by default.

3. Instill confidence in customers

The sinking feeling you get upon opening a package and realizing you’ve bought knock-off items is unforgettable. It creates a poor customer experience and can make shoppers reluctant to buy from your brand again. By adding an extra layer of protection through Transparency Barcodes, you can reassure buyers that their money and time are safe with you. This is especially important if you sell high-ticket items or goods known for being targets for fake goods.

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How to stay safe when selling on Amazon

One thing is for sure, Amazon’s security initiatives work. So much so that just 0.01% of goods sold on Amazon are flagged by customers as fakes. But while the protections Amazon Transparency barcodes offer are game-changing, keeping your goods safe from counterfeiting takes a concerted effort. With this said, Transparency Barcodes should form part of your security measures on Amazon, not all. Let’s break down some steps you can take:

Set up alerts for problematic actions on the platform

To keep your brand, listings, and products safe, you’ll need to battle counterfeiting 24/7. As a growing brand, it can be unrealistic to monitor your eCommerce ecosystem around the clock. So lean tech tools from brands like Helium 10 or Sellersapp to spot cloned listings, hijacking, and intellectual property infringements.

Also, make it a habit to report suspicious activity via Amazon’s “Report A Violation” tool you get access to with Brand Registry. This approach will help you eliminate issues sooner to limit the damage.

Get trustworthy prep, pack, and fulfillment

Believe it or not, your fulfillment process can make your goods vulnerable to counterfeiting. All it takes is a shady fulfillment company to swap out your authentic goods for cheaper items and send them to your customers. Then rub salt into the wound by selling your proper goods on the black market. But with some due diligence, it doesn’t have to be this way.

To point you in the right direction, here are some traits to look for in your 3PL:

  • Be strategic when labeling goods, especially if you have a large product portfolio. For example, they start with products that have been targeted in the past or are in a category that is regularly targeted by criminals.
  • Have internal security measures in place to shield the goods they store for you from tampering and theft.
  • Have experience in adding security seals to a range of product types.

Top tip: Remember to price the cost of Transparency Barcodes and the labeling service into your products to keep the operation profitable.

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Stay updated on the latest security measures and anti-counterfeiting news

There are always innovative security moves being made in the Amazon and in the anti-counterfeiting worlds, and it’s vital to stay updated on them to inform your strategy.

Read blogs about online selling security, watch webinars, and attend seminars to sharpen your knowledge and refine processes to catch and block current counterfeiting tricks.

Also, if you sell goods that are commonly targeted, invest in expert help to create solutions to protect your goods even further.

The secret to safe selling on Amazon

Amazon’s Transparency program offers a great starting point to uplevel your product authentication and brand security.

When used in tandem with other security-boosting measures, Transparency Barcodes can help you stay steps ahead of the criminals to keep your brand, sales, and customers safe.

But your work doesn’t stop at implementing Transparency Barcodes. As your sales and product portfolio grows, you’ll need to implement the initiative on and off the Amazon platform.

So use tech tools solutions to monitor product, listing, and IP infractions on your behalf. Study security measures for eCommerce businesses and continuously improve your approach.

There will always be more you can do in the fight against counterfeits, so develop an enduring spirit, get started on your security optimizations today, and so you can rest easy as your eCommerce business scales unhindered.

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