Amazon announced a new program that allows brands to fight against counterfeit sellers on a new self-service platform.
Counterfeit sellers causes all sorts of issues for not just brands but also Amazon. After all, Amazon is built on a positive customer experience and counterfeit products jeopardizes that experience. Left unchecked, customers will loose trust shopping at Amazon.
Project Zero is not Amazon's first attempt to help brands fight against counterfeit sellers. The Brand Registry program, currently known as Brand Registry 2.0, was developed to allow brands to register their trademarks with Amazon and give them access to a dedicated support team to submit claims to. This process is time consuming and can be frustrating to say the least.
As Amazon's popularity grows with consumers so does the opportunity for black hat sellers to game the system.
So what is Project Zero?
According to Amazon, Project Zero consists of 3 parts. First is automation, second is self-service removal then product serialization.
Through the use of AI, it appears brands provide Amazon with key data points that their automated system uses to identify and remove suspected counterfeits automatically.
The second tool brands are given is the ability to removed suspected counterfeit sellers themselves. Through this action, Amazon will use whatever data points it can gather from manual removals to enhance their AI for better results in the automation tool.
Last but not least is product serialization. This part appears to be the integration of Amazon's Transparency program which is the labeling of your products with a unique bar code that Amazon will scan during their receiving process. If a product is sent to Amazon's warehouse and does not have this unique bar code, the product is rejected and not received.
A Step in the Right Direction
There is no way Amazon could possibly police and handle all of the claims on their own. I suppose the scary part is how accountable will Amazon make brands for abusing the manual removal of sellers? Amazon has addressed this in the FAQ, stating "Brands must maintain a high bar for accuracy in order to maintain their Project Zero privileges." They further explain that all brands will undergo some sort of training as part of their enrollment in the system. Even so, it will be interesting to see if brands can resist the temptation to use the tool to remove unauthorized sellers, something many brands struggle to control.
Project Zero is currently only available in the USA. In order to be eligible for Project Zero your brand must have a government registered active trademark and be enrolled in their Brand Registry 2.0 program.
It is free to enroll in Project Zero, currently invite only, where you get the automated protections and use of the self-service counterfeit removal tool. However, if you choose to use the product serialization service, you will incur a cost a cost between $0.01 and $0.05 per unit. Amazon does not mention the terms for serialization on their site. If the serialization works like the Transparency program, be prepared to add their bar code to all products, not just products going to Amazon.
If you are interested in the program, head over to their Project Zero site to join the wait-list.