Using Amazon Transparency Program to Stop Brand Counterfeiters

Using Amazon Transparency Program to Stop Brand Counterfeiters

About $1 trillion worth of counterfeit products are currently listed on the global market. It's easy to imagine that many of these products are on Amazon. 


In fact, Amazon admitted that it blocked some 10 billion counterfeit product listing attempts in 2020. While it's reassuring to know they managed to fend off those attempts, the question remains—What about those that slipped through the cracks?  


My guess is there are still many fake products on the platform despite Amazon's countermeasures, waiting to make victims out of unsuspecting buyers. And it's not just buyers these counterfeiters prey upon. Sellers, too.


Legitimate sellers are robbed of their brands and intellectual property. To make matters worse, many disgruntled buyers come after them with terrible reviews because the counterfeiters make it seem that it's them who ripped them off. 


What is Amazon doing about this problem?


Times have changed. Amazon has recognized counterfeit products as a huge problem that needs an immediate solution, and they provided not just one but two solutions. 


One is the Brand Registry Program. Sellers signing up for this program are asked to provide essential brand details. Amazon uses machine learning to detect anyone trying to copy these details to create fake accounts or listings and deal with them immediately. 


Another is the Transparency Program, designed to protect brands from counterfeits by ensuring every unit is authentic. Enrolling in this program allows you to place unique codes on your products that buyers can scan using the Amazon Transparency App to verify their authenticity. 


Both programs have effectively combated fraud on the platform since their launch. Anticipating that a deterrent system may be available to counterfeiters soon, Amazon continues to scale its strategies. 


How to Enroll Your Brand in Amazon Transparency 


Whether you’re a new or experienced Amazon seller, using Amazon Transparency can significantly improve your resilience toward counterfeits. Follow this simple guide to enroll your inventory in this program.


Step 1: Sign up for an account.


Log into your Amazon seller account, and go here. Amazon will request your contact information and a few details about your brand. Complete and submit the form. They will contact you via email once they receive your enrollment request. They'll provide more information about the Transparency Program, including its coverage, pricing, and guidelines.


Step 2: Sign the Agreement.


The email includes an agreement you need to sign and send back. Read and understand the terms and conditions very carefully before signing this agreement. Once Amazon sees your signature, they'll finalize your enrollment and share onboarding resources, including access to the Transparency Portal, where you can enroll your products for protection and generate transparency codes.


Step 3: Enroll your products.


You can enroll some or all of your trademarked products. But if you're only enrolling some of your products, plan how to manage your listings to keep enrolled and unenrolled products separate. Open the Transparency Portal, select 'Your products,' and find 'Enroll your products.' 


In this section, click 'Download file' to save the Product Configuration Template (PCT) on your device. This is where you'll input the information on the products you want to enroll in the program. Amazon needs this file to match transparency codes with the correct ASINs. 


Go back to the Transparency Portal and upload the PCT you've completed. Amazon will then process your enrollment and email you within 24 to 48 hours once it's completed or if they need you to fix errors and resubmit the file.


Step 4: Request transparency codes.


In the Transparency Portal, select 'Code Requests.' This leads to a page where you can request a transparency code for each enrolled inventory. Choose the products you'd like to generate transparency codes for and the number of codes you want to generate for them. 


Amazon's transparency codes come in three types: pre-defined transparency labels, custom labels, and a 'design-in' approach. No matter which type of label you choose for your products, it has to have four components: a blue or black transparency logo, a 2D transparency data matrix code, a product identifier, and the phrase 'scan with the Amazon shopping app.' You may also include your brand logo, barcode, and a brief description of your product. 


Important: Should you prefer customizing your Transparency code, you need the approval of your Transparency contact first.


You can generate up to 100,000 transparency codes per ASIN in one request. Each unit of the same ASIN must have a unique transparency code. You can also provide additional information about the ASIN you wish to see on each transparency code. Once you've entered all the necessary information, click 'Request codes.'


Amazon will notify you via email within 30 minutes if your codes are available. Return to the Portal and download the codes to your computer. You can download a .csv or .pdf file, depending on where the codes will be printed. 


You can print the codes yourself or ask a Transparency Service Provider (TSP) to print them for you. There's also an option to integrate it into the packaging design to save money, although this will require a printing system that will not consume too much data, as the design for each package is different. Follow Amazon's guidelines for each of the code printing methods available.


Step 5: Enable OPR if shipping products yourself.


If you're shipping products yourself or have distributors handling the packaging, you need Amazon's Transparency Team to ensure they are shipping your products with the correct labels. To involve them in the process, you must initiate an Operational Performance Review (OPR). You can either ask the Transparency Team to initiate it for you or do it manually on the Portal. 


With OPR, you can add authorized distributors of your enrolled products. This can be a little tricky as your distributors' performance when putting transparency codes affects your overall performance.  


Here's how to initiate an OPR:


  • In the Manage OPR page, select 'Download file.'
  • Open the file, enter the required product information on each spreadsheet, and click 'Save.'
  • Return to the Manage OPR page and select 'Choose file.'
  • Upload the file you've just created.


Amazon will review your request and email you once your OPR is initiated. You may also check the status of your request in the OPR History section of the Manage OPR page. Your products' status should change from 'Enrolled' to 'In ORP.' 


The Transparency Portal also provides returns analytics, helping you determine and resolve the root cause of issues leading to returns. These issues could arise from a distributor, and with OPR, Amazon can help identify this distributor and remind them of the Transparency guidelines. 


How to report counterfeiters or counterfeit products?


Counterfeiters can infringe three types of intellectual property (IP) rights—trademark, copyright, and patent. A trademark protects brands, logos, and slogans. Copyright protects authorship. A patent protects inventions, scientific discoveries, and original processes. 


Amazon will ask you a few questions when reporting an infringement of any of these IPs. They'll start by checking if you're the IP owner or a representative. Then, they'll proceed accordingly. They'll also request that you specify the IP type infringed and provide strong evidence to support your claim. In short, ensure you have all the required information and proof ready before reporting.


How do you report an infringement? Go here if you're reporting infringement on Amazon USA. Just replace the regional domain in the link if you're reporting to a different Amazon market—(dot)in for Amazon India, (dot)uk for Amazon UK, and so on.


Protect Your Brand with Amazon Transparency


Protecting your brand must be your top priority once you launch it on Amazon. After listing your first set of products, enroll them in Amazon Transparency to ensure your distributors, Amazon, and your buyers can distinguish them from counterfeit ones. Registering your brand with Amazon's Brand Registry also helps prevent other sellers from hijacking your store, posing as you, or selling your products for cheaper prices.   

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