Given its admitted counterfeit problems, Amazon has launched Project Zero - a new program they claim "leverages the combined strengths of Amazon and brands to drive counterfeits to zero." The program utilizes three tools in an attempt to stop counterfeits:
Automated protections Amazon’s automated protections continuously scan stores and proactively remove suspected counterfeits. Brands provide their logos, trademarks, and other key data about their brand, and Amazon scours through 5 billion product listing updates every day, searching for suspected counterfeits.
Self-service counterfeit removal tool Whereas previously brands had to file a report to Amazon and wait for an investigation before action was taken, now they are given the ability to directly remove listings they suspect are counterfeit without reporting it first.
Product serialization Brands put unique codes on every unit as part of their manufacturing process and every time a product is ordered, Amazon scans and verifies its authenticity.
While the problem of counterfeits is real and taking action to stop them is great, the program has one possible flaw: the self-service counterfeit removal tool. While it alleviates a brand from having to file a report and wait for Amazon to complete an investigation before taking action, it also allows a brand to flag anyone and everyone as counterfeit. So while the aim is to remove the fakes, it can also disrupt legitimate sellers. Amazon claims that they review removals after the fact for legitimacy, and if they find the system is being abused, those sellers will be removed from the program. They also require training and ongoing monitoring as part of enrollment in order to prevent misuse. But unfortunately, legitimate sellers have already lost revenue and valuable time while they figure it out.
Of course, the hope is that this tool won't be abused. After all, it will negatively impact a brand's revenue, too, if they're flagging their own partners from selling their product. But we already know of legitimate sellers that are experiencing the growing headache of proving to Amazon that they're not selling counterfeits after being randomly flagged. And every seller knows the joys of dealing with Amazon support - pulling out your own fingernails can be less painful.
Enrolling in Project Zero
Enrollment in Project Zero is currently invite-only, but brands can join the waitlist. It's free to enroll and includes the self-service counterfeit removal tool and automated protections. Product serialization is not required, but brands that serialize their products are seeing the best results. Product serialization service incurs a cost between $0.01 and $0.05 per unit, based on volume. Brands must have a government-registered trademark and be enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry in order to be eligible for the program. Project Zero is only available in the U.S.
Helpful or hurtful?
What do you think of Project Zero? Will it help reduce Amazon's counterfeit problem? Will the self-service removal tool become a huge nuisance for honest sellers? Are you currently enrolled in Project Zero? If so, what have the results been? We'd love to hear from you! Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call: (303) 536-5505.