Fighting the Amazon Inauthentic Issue
Unfortunately, far too many sellers have been victims of these vague guidelines Amazon has provided. The entire Amazon inauthentic dilemma caused confusing from the start – for quite some time, sellers were perplexed with the term itself: What’s inauthentic, and why is it different from counterfeit?
Sellers have a clear answer to this now, which is actually rather simple: Amazon inauthentic violations are caused when the supplier you purchase from is not authorized to sell the items. Counterfeit issues are still worse: in Amazon language, a counterfeit is a product that’s Canal street fake. Inauthentic items on Amazon could still be “real” – they simply aren’t purchased from authorized distributors.
Inauthentic Sales Run Rampant
Electronics, cosmetics and apparel are the categories that tend to be most vulnerable when it comes to inauthentic violations. We see more inauthentic Amazon suspensions for sellers in these categories simply due to the nature of the products. Frankly, there are a whole lot of counterfeit iPhones and beauty products floating around. This is true both online and off – whether you’re shopping in New York City or on Amazon, knockoffs are inevitable. It’s simply easier to notice when you’re shopping in person. Online, things get a bit blurry.
Let’s take electronics as an example. Inauthentic Amazon sales for iPhones, iPhone accessories, and other popular Apple products are so widespread on the marketplace, it’s sometimes impossible to figure out which items are “real”. In fact, recent reports show that an alarming 90% of Apple products on Amazon are totally fake.
With numbers like this, it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple pulls a Birkenstock and takes all their items off the platform in the near future. Samsung is another major smartphone brand that’s been hit hard by knockoff versions of their trademarked phones and accessories on Amazon.
Inauthentic Concerns for Marketplace Sellers
Sadly, the days of retail arbitrage are just about over. Amazon’s inauthentic policies have become far too strict – sellers can’t simply go thrifting for items to sell on Amazon anymore. The risk of violations is far too high – these days, Amazon wants to see private label products, sellers enrolled in Brand Registry, and major retailers on the marketplace.
New sellers have no choice but to do their homework. Aspiring Amazon sellers must be well-versed on what constitutes an authorized supplier, along with what documentation they need to keep handy if an inauthentic violation comes in. This includes invoices dating at least 365 days prior to the complaint. Furthermore, new sellers need to heavily research their items to make sure they aren’t causing any Amazon trademark infringement or violating another brand’s official copyright or patent. Some great resources for trademark, copyright and patent research include Trademarkia and the official USPTO database.
Inauthentic Concerns for Brands
On the other side of the inauthentic problem are not marketplace sellers – it’s the brands who have been negatively impacted by third-party sellers with unauthorized products for sale. Electronic brands have felt the most harmful impact of inauthentic products – in this category, products that haven’t been manufactured by an authorized company can become downright dangerous. Naturally, safety concerns are far more likely when electronics come from unauthorized manufacturers. That’s why so many brands have taken steps to police their brands on Amazon, which is achievable – but it’s becoming far more difficult.
For some brands, like Birkenstock, it’s not worth the effort. A representative for the company made the following statement upon parting ways with Amazon: “By taking this course of action, we are leaving the Amazon marketplace to counterfeiters, fake suppliers and unauthorized sellers with whom we have no relationships.”