In its most recent move to address counterfeiting issues, Amazon announced on Wednesday that it will soon require US sellers to display their business name and address. This change is intended to help consumers and brands fight fraud and take action against offending sellers.
While this requirement may be new to the US, it’s already in practice in Europe, Japan, and Mexico. So why is this happening now in the US?
A little background
Amazon has been under increased pressure to crack down on counterfeit and fraudulent products being sold through its marketplace by third-party sellers. That pressure culminated in April when the White House decided to list several of Amazon’s international websites on its “notorious markets” list. Since then, Amazon has been putting a lot more initiative into its fight against counterfeit and fraudulent sellers.
But there are other reasons Amazon is stepping up its counterfeit defense. The US government isn’t the only party putting pressure on the online retailer for this issue. Partly because of the counterfeit issue, several brands — including Nike, Birkenstock, and others — have removed their official presence from Amazon altogether.
What does this latest development accomplish?
By asking sellers to list their business name and address, Amazon is putting more accountability on the sellers themselves. Brands and consumers will soon be able to take direct legal action against sellers over harmful transactions and the sale of counterfeit goods.
Amazon sellers will be required to post their business name and address by September 1.
What else is being done?
Requiring US sellers to list their name and address is the latest in a series of moves Amazon has made against counterfeiting. In early 2019, Amazon launched Project Zero, a self-service program that provided brands with the ability to remove counterfeit items. That was a great start, but it still required the brands themselves to take action on what was predominantly an Amazon issue.
In April of this year, Amazon announced that they would be piloting a new vetting program that would require sellers to validate their identity over video. The hope is that this program will make the sign-up process better for legitimate sellers while also making it more difficult for fraudsters to get approved. Still, Amazon is estimated to add about 1 million sellers to its marketplace every year, so it still seems likely that some fraudsters are bound to slip through the cracks.
Enter Amazon’s new shining Counterfeit Crimes Unit. In June, the company announced that it was launching its very own team of counterfeit investigators. Members of the unit — which were said to be former federal prosecutors, investigators, and data analysts — will be dedicated to probing the marketplace to locate fraudulent sellers.
Will all of these latest efforts be enough to make a serious dent in Amazon’s counterfeit problem? Amazon is dedicated to change, but for now, it isn’t just on them to tackle this problem.
Brands need to be active on the marketplace to ensure their products are being represented accurately and responsibly. “Breaking up” with Amazon doesn’t work — it does nothing to remove counterfeits, and it does nothing to protect brand equity.
Instead of avoiding Amazon, brands need to engage directly with a Brand Protection strategy. By having the right teams in place to actively monitor listings, identify bad actors, and manage Amazon Brand Registry, brands can proactively reduce the number of counterfeits that damage their business on the marketplace.
Learn more about how our team approaches Amazon Brand Protection.