Amazon recently updated its Project Zero service from an invite-only offering to an open one that anyone who qualifies can apply for. If you haven't yet heard of Amazon Project Zero and how it can help protect your brand, then you'll want to read on as we discuss how it can work for your business. We'll take a look at what it is, the problem it solves, how to apply, and everything else that you'll need to know in order to take advantage of the program.
The Problem of Counterfeiting
Amazon allowing third-party sellers on their platform is great for honest business people, but it is also great for not-so-honest business people. By allowing anyone to place products on the site, Amazon has created an arena that is ripe for counterfeiters. Apple has stated that 90% of the products on Amazon claiming to be official Apple products are, in fact, counterfeits.
It isn't just large companies like Apple that are being counterfeited either. Any brand with enough of a following to attract customers is going to also attract scammers trying to capitalize on that name. If your business has a reputable brand name, this could mean you.
And, counterfeit products that perform poorly aren't the only danger to your reputation. Often, people who are unhappy are more likely to leave a review than satisfied customers are. Proper reputation management can help get your happy customers spreading the word while you work to clear out copycats.
So, what options are in place to help fight back against these counterfeiters? Is your brand destined to a never-ending game of whack-a-mole in an attempt to keep its name untarnished by subpar fakes?
Introduction to Amazon Project Zero
As counterfeiting on Amazon started to get out of control, retailers began to get frustrated. Counterfeit products cost the legitimate retailers money, and often, the poor build quality of these products can hurt the real brand's reputation when consumers are not aware that they have been duped. At the time, retailers could contact Amazon and ask the company to step in on their behalf, removing the infringing products. This process was long and was not always resolved to the satisfaction of the rights holder.
As the backlash to the counterfeiting problem grew, Amazon developed the Project Zero program that would allow select retailers who had been invited to participate the option to remove infringing products themselves. This self-service removal tool greatly empowered brands to protect their names. The program has since been made available to everyone who meets the requirements, outlined later in this post.
How Amazon Zero Protects Brands
On Amazon's Project Zero page, they list three mechanisms that are in place to protect companies who are a part of the program from counterfeiters on their platform.
1. Automated Protections
By submitting trademarks, logos, and other data to Amazon for processing in its machine learning algorithms, the company can automatically detect products passing themselves off as the protected brand without actually having a valid affiliation with that brand. This allows for a hands-off approach that will reduce the amount of time that a company needs to spend hunting down imposters on its own.
2. Self-service Counterfeit Removal Tool
Of course, there will be times when a company discovers a product masquerading as theirs that the algorithm has not caught yet. In those instances, Project Zero empowers the brand owner to remove the offending product without the need to wait for a response through Amazon's vendor support channels.
3. Product Serialization
By putting a unique code on every product that is manufactured and sold through Amazon, brands can give the company the tools it needs to verify the authenticity of a product when it makes its way through its shipping channels.
Requirements for Participation in Amazon Zero
While the requirements for an invitation are gone, there are still some things that a brand must do before being accepted into the Project Zero program. Most of these are fairly obvious requirements for such a service:
- You must be the legal owner of the brand, which means owning a registered trademark that you wish to have protected.
- You must have registered your brand in Amazon's Brand Registry.
- You must have submitted potential infringement to Amazon in the past 6 months and have a 90% acceptance rate on those submissions.
Once those requirements are met, anyone can now apply to be a part of Project Zero and start having more direct involvement in protecting their brand on the platform.
How Much Amazon Zero Will Cost You
It would not be in Amazon's best interest to profit from a service designed to fix flaws in their own system and the company realizes that. Project Zero is free to participate in for two of the three features that it offers. Amazon will protect your brand using its automated machine learning algorithm and allow you to self-service the policing of your brand's counterfeits for no fee.
The product serialization feature, however, does cost a small amount per unit. The company does not give exact values for the pricing of the feature, only stating that it is based on volume. Third-party reports put the pricing at around $0.01 to $0.05 per unit.
How to Apply for Amazon Project Zero
Now that you know what Project Zero is, how it can help you, and what the requirements are, you likely want to know how to take the next step and sign in. The official Project Zero page has a button that will allow you to sign-in to your account and check if you are eligible for the program. If you are eligible, the site will guide you on how to proceed with the application process.
Amazon Zero Gets You One Step Closer to Marketplace Success
Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world. With that size comes an amplified set of problems that all retailers face, but also a whole new set of problems that are unique to such a large and flexible platform. Amazon has done well in responding to criticisms as it experiences growing pains and as bad actors seek to game the freedom that the system provides.
Staying on top of what it takes to succeed as an Amazon retailer is a full-time job in itself. But it is one that you do not have to tackle alone. Adlucent offers a full range of Amazon services that will help you optimize your marketplace strategy and boost sales. We invite you to check out what we can do for you to make the most of your digital marketing.