Frozen, a magical Disney animated film was released in 2013. It was a huge hit and little girls everywhere wanted to have an “Elsa” doll. Debbie’s daughter, Kate, wanted one and so she ordered one on Amazon.
Debbie was excited to be one of the first people to buy the doll online. But, she was stunned when she opened the box. The doll looks nothing like the Elsa doll she saw in the picture. It was obviously a fake. She swore not to order anything on Amazon again.
Amazon’s counterfeit problem does not only affect buyers. It also affects merchants like you. Counterfeit products can destroy your brand’s reputation and significantly reduce your revenue and profit. In fact, industries and businesses lose around 200 billion in revenues every year due to counterfeits. This massive revenue loss can heavily affect the economy and can increase the unemployment rate.
Amazon Zero: The Anti-Counterfeit Amazon Brand Management Tool
For years, knock offs do well on Amazon. Many sellers feel that Amazon has been sweeping its counterfeit problem under the rug. However, after facing multiple counterfeit-related lawsuits, the eCommerce giant finally decided to face the problem head on.
On February 2019, the eCommerce giant introduced Project Zero, a self-service brand protection tool that you can use to remove counterfeit items.
Project Zero was created to empower businesses to protect their brands and drive counterfeit to zero.
Amazon Brand Protection at Its Finest: What Makes Project Zero Amazing?
Counterfeit products can undermine your branding and marketing efforts. They can destroy your reputation and can significantly decrease your sales and revenues. According to a research, around 22% of shoppers decided to stop spending money on the brand after they received a counterfeit item.
Moreover, around 88% of shoppers who purchased counterfeit products believe that the brands should make an effort to protect customers from counterfeiters.
Project Zero has three powerful tools, namely:
1. Automated Protections
Powered by Amazon’s advanced and innovative technology, this tool regularly scans product pages and proactively removes suspected counterfeit items.
This tool was designed to help Amazon drive counterfeits to zero. Businesses provide their logos, trademarks, and other IP (intellectual property) - related data through the Amazon brand registry or ABR.
The eCommerce giant scans over three billion daily listing updates to identify potential counterfeits. This tool has been around for a while, long before Project Zero was created. It’s part of the Amazon Brand Registry program.
As the name suggests, this tool is automated. This means that you don’t have to do anything on your part. You can avail of this service as long as you are registered in ABR.
2. Self-service Counterfeit Removal
In the past, brands have to report counterfeit products to Amazon manually. This process can be long, tedious, and can take a lot of your time.
Project Zero’s self-service counterfeit removal tool empowers brands to remove counterfeit products themselves. Amazing, right?
Here’s how it works. Let’s say that you’re selling patented musical tumblers. You scan through Amazon stores and found a merchant that sells fakes. You don’t have to report the seller to Amazon. You can simply remove the fakes from the market using Zero.
3. Product Serialization
This tool allows you to place unique codes to all your products. Once you’re done, Amazon will have to scan and confirm the authenticity of every unit purchased through the eCommerce platform.
The product serialization tool allows Amazon to easily scan the item and stop counterfeit items from reaching the customer.
The “automated protections” tool uses the product serialization data to weed out fake products and ban counterfeiters.
Amazon Zero is still in its early stage. It’s not perfect yet, but it works. For now, this tool is available by invitation-only. This tool was only available to big brands like Chom Chom Roller, Vera Bradley, and Thunderworks during its first few months.
This tool is free and it’s available to registered brands. But, take note that product serialization is not free. Serialization costs about $0.01 to $0.05 per unit. This means that you might have to pay an extra $5 for every one hundred units sold on Amazon.
How Can Amazon Zero Benefit You?
Amazon Zero does not only preserve your brand image and reputation. It also helps you stop the revenue leaks that counterfeiters are creating.
This tool can increase your revenue and profits. It can also improve your client satisfaction. It is a weapon that you can use against counterfeiters. It helps you preserves the integrity of your brand, so it can potentially help you increase your market share in the long run.
Things You Need To Do Before You Join the Project Zero Waitlist
Project Zero is not yet refined. It doesn’t have a comprehensive and easy-to-use registration system. As previously mentioned, it’s invite-only as of the moment. It may take a while before this service is available to smaller brand. But, Amazon also set up a system for those who want to join the waitlist.
But, before you even join the waitlist, here are a few things that you should do:
1. Get a registered trademark for your brand.
Before you can join the Amazon Brand Registry , you have to register a trademark for your brand.
Registering a trademark can help you protect your brand from unscrupulous and shady entrepreneurs. It gives you exclusive rights to the brand name. You don’t want someone to take advantage of all the work you did for your brand.
Let’s take Apple as an example. As you know, Apple is one of the biggest and wealthiest companies in the world.
With its battalion of lawyers, you’d think that Apple has a foolproof intellectual property protection process in place. And it does. But, apparently, Apple’s IP team made one mistake – they failed to file a trademark for the name “Steve Jobs”.
As you know, the name Steve Jobs has almost become synonymous with “Apple”. The Mac, iPhone, and iPad became popular not only because of their awesome features, but also because of Jobs’ brilliant branding efforts.
In 2012, brothers Giacomo and Vincenzo founded an Italian clothing brand called “Steve Jobs”. Apple’s lawyers did everything they can to close down the company. But, because the brothers own the trademark for “Steve Jobs” Apple's legal army can’t do anything about to stop the brothers. The brothers managed to win the long battle with the technology giant because they have rights over the brand.
Registering a trademark for your brand gives you the power to seek legal remedies should other people try to use your brand name or your products.
A registered trademark is considered an immovable property so you can use it as a security for loans.
2. Enroll your brand in Amazon Registry.
After you have registered a trademark for your brand, it’s time to enroll your business in the Amazon Brand Registry or ABR.
ABR allows you to manage your product listing and remove counterfeits. It also gives you access to various Amazon empowerment tools, such as enhanced brand content and Amazon brand store.
Brand registry gives you a lot of control of your product information and marketing. You see a lot of black hat marketers place fraudulent ads to destroy their competition. ABR collects all the information about your brand to initiate a predictive protection that checks the legitimacy of an ad using your trademark. That’s awesome, right?
Enrolling your brand in Amazon brand registry also gives you a chance to join Project Zero.
Once you’re ready, go to this link https://brandservices.amazon.com/projectzero/waitlist and join the waitlist.
Amazon Zero has a long wait list at the moment, so it may take a while before you can use this service. As previously mentioned, this tool is only available to big brands as of the moment.
How Amazon Stays One Step Ahead of System Abusers
There’s no doubt that Amazon Zero is an extremely empowering tool because it allows you to remove counterfeit products in just a few clicks.
But black hat sellers can easily weaponize this tool and use it to eliminate fellow third party sellers.
Let’s say that you’re a third party seller of Jansport backpacks. There are dozens of Jansport bag sellers on Amazon. One of the other third party sellers can simply tag your product as counterfeit and can remove your product. That’s scary, right?
But, there’s no need to worry. The removals are reviewed to protect the system from being abused.
Project Zero allows you to bypass the complicated counterfeit reporting process. It restores people’s faith in Amazon and it provides ultimate third party seller protection. It is a proof that Amazon is serious about removing counterfeit listings.
Again, Project Zero is still currently at its early stage. And while it’s extremely beneficial to brands and third party sellers, it can only do so much. Eventually, counterfeiters would just move their marketing and sales operations to other eCommerce platforms.
Remember that counterfeiting is a systemic issue across different eCommerce and social media platforms. Amazon Zero is helpful, but it’s also wise to resort to other brand protection strategies. You can schedule a routine counterfeit check every week. You can also create a video teaching customers how to spot fake products.
There’s no doubt that Amazon is doing its best to protect brands and third party sellers. But you have to do your part, too.