Apparel Companies Fight Amazon Over Counterfeit Products
Just like it has for just about every other industry under the sun, Amazon has disrupted the apparel marketplace by implementing its own lines of clothing, features and manufacturing processes.
But third-party apparel sellers are still causing Amazon some headaches, especially as counterfeit products slip through the cracks. This is something we've seen at similarly sized mega-sites like Alibaba, and competing apparel and footwear brands have taken notice.
The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which includes companies like Adidas and Target, has recommended that five Amazon sites be added to the government's annual Notorious Markets list, which includes e-commerce sites and businesses that sell counterfeit goods.
Amazon responded by insisting that it's doing everything it can to prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods.
"We invest heavily in prevention and take proactive steps to drive counterfeits in our stores to zero," an Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo. "Amazon is committed to eliminating counterfeits from its store and is committed to working with AAFA and its members to protect their intellectual property."
Yahoo reported that three Amazon sites (amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca and amazon.de) were recommended by the AAFA last year, but didn't actually end up on the Notorious Markets list.
For a company of Amazon's size, stopping counterfeiting is going to be an endless game of Whack-a-Mole, even if it's doing everything it can. But the AAFA thinks Amazon isn't doing enough.
"Anyone can become a seller with too much ease, and it is often misleading and difficult to interpret who the seller is," the AAFA's letter said. "Members emphasize that from a consumer standpoint, it is hard to decipher from whom the purchase is being made. Amazon needs to go further, by demonstrating the commitment to the resources and leadership necessary to make their brand protection programs scalable, transparent and, most importantly, effective."
Amazon's defense here is the fact that it has invested $400 million into authenticity and safety programs last year. Additionally, it opened the doors for brands that use the selling platform to join protection programs like its Brand Registry.
Since Amazon relies heavily on algorithms to spot fakes, it opens the door for counterfeiters to beat the system and get away with it.
It's good that groups like AAFA are taking direct steps to combat counterfeiting, but with a company as large as Amazon, it's tough to create real change here. Yes, on paper, Amazon is throwing mind-boggling money at the problem, but that's also a relatively minuscule sum for a company like that.
Could they do more? Probably.
Are personalized, human-backed means of scanning Amazon doable for a company that has gotten too big for any pair of britches imaginable? Probably not.