Countering the Counterfeit Problem in Ecommerce

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A global effort is required at this moment to combat the same through anti-counterfeiting trade agreements and blocking of fake websites, sellers and fraudulent digital advertisements and piracy in general of goods sold online.

It is indeed necessary to be sure that the goods we are buying online are not counterfeit because in the ecommerce market this indeed is a major problem, especially because we see the goods only after they are delivered. At Eunimart we feel that neither a genuine seller nor a buyer would want to be entrapped in the counterfeiting game. As Mr BK Rao, Sr. Category Head Marketing, Parle Products, once said, “Wilful counterfeiting means there is a lacuna in the brand itself. That means the original brand is somewhere weak. That is why a consumer is willing to go for a fake product. The brand hasn’t made itself counterfeit-proof and there is an opportunity for the brand to address and to fulfil that consumer need gap in terms of pricing, distribution and manufacturing.”

Hence the problem of counterfeiting has different sides. It could spread because consumers are willing to buy counterfeit, or because the seller is wilfully selling or because of the fake goods now look so authentic that the buyer purchases it without realizing it is fake.

The important thing is for a country to have stringent laws to protect brands and fine the counterfeiters and even possibly people who wilfully purchase them because the price may be exceptionally low in which case any intelligent buyer is liable because he knows or suspects it is fake.

Some feel that the online ecommerce markets have indeed encouraged fake goods because marketplaces connect the buyer and seller and in many cases, there is no control over the authenticity of the product. Global counterfeiting has increased not marginally but voluminously and reports suggest that the world counterfeit market is set to grow. This problem needs to be countered because brands are being adversely impacted, and marketplaces can be held responsible for the same too.
The idea here is to find solutions to the problem of counterfeit goods in ecommerce. Eunimart suggests:

  • Technology can help a brand in the first place to counter the counterfeiting attempts. Special Software allows you to identify authenticity through a scanned bar code that can release information like brand ownership details. There is also an app by the Government of India that serves the purpose called the Smart Consumer App.
  • As experts say, if we utilize universally accepted standards we can implement a track and trace system to achieve greater transparency throughout the supply chain which can detect and counter the counterfeiting problem. Let us not wait for the consumer to discover counterfeit goods in ecommerce.
  • Artificial Intelligence available to us today can be further used to combat the counterfeit goods problem in ecommerce. Just as the problem might have grown with the online marketplaces connecting third-party sellers, so also technology has empowered us today to solve the problem.AI can be used to detect counterfeit items and block insecure and illegitimate advertisements that promote counterfeit goods. Tracking and tracing technologies of blockchain can be utilized to determine the origin of the product and its current status in the supply chain system.
  • Of course, brands can protect their intellectual property rights but when the goods go a long way it is difficult to trace the same without AI-powered tools to demarcate them. So AI-based tags that help consumers to scan the open part of the tag and check for authenticity with a certain probability is good to adopt. Every major marketplace is cautious today about counterfeiting. It got a mention in Amazon’s annual report and Alibaba has also started using a Machine Learning system that can help detect not just counterfeit goods but also sellers. So solving the problem of counterfeit goods in ecommerce is much easier today and must necessarily be implemented by marketplaces and of course brands.
  • Another simple solution is the use of web and mobile application and SMS facility by which brands can authenticate their products and consumers can check the authenticity. This can offer a measure of protection against tampering or copying.
  • Sellers can also use the Fulfillment services to their advantage by having their products’ authenticity validated by the respective marketplaces and in turn identify counterfeit products and the source of it.
  • The idea is to attack the evil at the roots and so brands need to be extra vigilant and strict about their products. It is therefore advisable to provide an informative and perhaps a visual guide so consumers can easily distinguish between a real and a fake product. The onus lies on the brand to make visible that part of the product which is the most difficult to replicate. This can help online consumers to make informed decisions.

Counterfeit goods diminish the goodwill a brand enjoys and so extra care must be taken to see that the quality and reputation of a brand or a marketplace is not compromised. A global effort is required at this moment to combat the same through anti-counterfeiting trade agreements and blocking of fake websites, sellers and fraudulent digital advertisements and piracy in general of goods sold online. Eunimart’s suggestions can thus help, albeit in a small way, towards this global crisis of counterfeit goods in ecommerce. It is only through concerted efforts that we can hope to weed out this parallel industry and hope to regain lost ground and make up for the massive losses incurred by the formal economy.