On Thursday, February 28th, 2019, Amazon announced it is cracking down on false and misleading products being offered on its platform. For the first time, brand owners will be able to remove counterfeit listings themselves.
The Amazon-dubbed Project Zero will offer registered brands a removal tool to eliminate fakes, and is implementing new technology to reduce the number of counterfeit listings on their site overall.
What is Amazon Project Zero?
Project Zero has three components:
- Automated Protections. Powered by Amazon’s machine learning, automated protections continuously scan Amazon’s stores and proactively remove suspected counterfeits. Brands provide key data points about themselves (e.g., trademarks, logos, etc.) and Amazon scans over five billion daily listing update attempts, looking for suspected counterfeits.
- Self-Service Counterfeit Removal. Brands no longer need to contact Amazon to remove counterfeit listings from its stores. Instead, they have the unprecedented ability to do so themselves. By using Amazon’s new self-service tool, sellers can remove fakes and Amazon gets data to strengthen its automated protections. It all works to proactively catch, and ban, counterfeiters.
- Product Serialization. Sellers apply unique codes to every unit of their brand registered product(s). This allows Amazon to scan and confirm the authenticity of every one of those units purchased in Amazon’s stores. With this service, Amazon can detect and stop counterfeiting before the item reaches the customer.
Who can join Amazon Project Zero?
At this point, Amazon Project Zero is invitation-only.
And it would appear that Amazon is only giving big name brands the first shot at using this new technology. While we don’t know most of the brands invited, we do know that Thunderworks, Vera Bradley, Kenu and Chom Chom Roller are involved.
For those who are interested in joining, Amazon currently has a waiting list.
What does this mean for Amazon FBA sellers?
Amazon has long been opposed to counterfeiting. And Project Zero, well, it looks like it’s Amazon’s answer to ending fakes permanently. So, Amazon FBA sellers who are selling fraudulent products will feel the impact of this new feature the most.
However, that doesn’t mean that legitimate sellers shouldn’t have concerns. In the past, Amazon’s initiatives to remove fakes sometimes backfires.
When Amazon started cracking down on counterfeit products in 2016, blocking flagged products, a lot of legit sellers had their products removed. Sometimes it took weeks to reestablish the product. To make matters worse, this happened at the start of the holiday selling season.
Another concern some sellers are sure to have is that black hat sellers could potentially “weaponize” this technology. Ethically-dubious sellers could, possibly, remove their honest competition with this tool.
Finally, Project Zero makes the already complicated process of registering a brand even more difficult.
But, as Amazon continues to broaden its third-party selling platform, this type of technology is inevitable.
How do I stay on top of this?
First and foremost, take the steps necessary to register your brand. That means, if you haven’t already, get a trademark for your brand. That way you can start the application process to have your product listed in Amazon’s Brand Registry. This will protect you from any potential Project Zero-related troubles or confusion.
Next, apply to the program’s waiting list. It may take time for Amazon to give you access, but at least you’ll have a foot in the door. Sellers who wait to apply will lose out to those who don’t.
As this develops, we’ll bring you more news.
This is all news to us, too. So, as we learn more about Amazon’s Project Zero program, we’ll be sure to pass that information onto you. And you can stay updated on other Amazon-related news by joining our mailing list.