Amazon’s Transparency Program: Another Weapon in the Fight Against Counterfeits

We’ve been covering black-hat tactics for a few weeks now, and the frequent comment we hear is, “Amazon’s just not doing enough to prevent counterfeit products and bad actors.” 

There is definitely more to be done, but one program you may not have heard about takes direct aim at counterfeit products. 

First introduced in 2017, Amazon’s Transparency program is just now going big with publicity and an enrollment drive. And for good reason: counterfeiters have never been more active on the marketplace and sellers and buyers demand action.

Until as recently as July 9, 2019 (literally when we were editing this article for post), Amazon limited participation in the Transparency program to sellers in the United States. However, on July 10, 2019, Amazon announced that it was expanding Transparency to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K., India, and Canada. Now an increasing number of global brands can choose to enroll one or more products in the program and utilize the unique tracking codes to do their parts in preventing counterfeiting.

Amazon designed its specialized barcode technology to verify a product’s authenticity and to thwart would-be counterfeiters. This prevents shipment of counterfeit products (FBA) and it decreases the likelihood of a customer receiving counterfeit goods (FBA and FBM).

How Amazon Transparency Works

Consumers hold the power in this program; the new unique barcodes focus on customer protection. After all, buyers are the end-recipients and the ones who are able to confirm that what they receive is legitimate. And they validate this by scanning the special Amazon-provided barcodes through the Transparency app (iOS or Android) in order to ensure they received the right thing. 

However, Amazon also claims that in order to ensure authenticity, it scans and verifies products that enter its facilities. This means that FBA sellers shipping products with an enrolled ASIN lacking the proper barcode will fail Transparency checks. Amazon then investigates these products for potential counterfeits. Suspected counterfeits will be handled per Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting policies.

And if that happens, the counterfeiter’s account will be suspended. Of course, Amazon sellers who fulfill orders themselves can’t utilize this benefit, though consumers will still be able to check and report counterfeits received via FBM.

The Technicalities of Transparency

A normal barcode includes a product’s UPC or other ID with some information about the product. However, Amazon’s Transparency codes can include a few other details, like manufacturing date, manufacturing place, and enhanced product information (like ingredients). Amazon generates the codes, but a brand is responsible for affixing these codes to any products. This means an extra step — and possibly an extra cost — for manufacturers.

For FBA sellers, Amazon will check for the required codes on any products enrolled in Transparency. Unsurprisingly, there is a charge to sellers for utilizing the specially designed codes. Various sources have quoted between $0.01 and $0.05 per code, likely to calculated based on volume.

Enrolling in Amazon Transparency

Transparency may or may not make sense for you. If it does, follow these enrollment steps:

  1. Contact Amazon about Transparency. Be sure you’re able to verify yourself as the brand owner.
  2. Determine which products you want to enroll.
  3. Prepare your business to be able to affix the unique barcodes to every product you produce.

Learn More About Anti-Counterfeiting 

Want to learn more about the perils of frauds on the Amazon Marketplace as well as Amazon anti-counterfeiting efforts? Check out our guide to Understanding Amazon Black-Hat Tactics and equip yourself to battle the bad actors.

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