Each year the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) process over $2 trillion worth of goods. Much of which are imported to be sold to the American consumer.
As online retailers such as Amazon and Ebay continue to grow so also does the import of counterfeit goods. These items are illegal, less expensive replicas of high-end or popular fashion items, tech, and even toys.
The growth of counterfeit imports to the US has significant impacts on the US economy as well as health and safety of the citizens who purchase these items and the CBP and Amazon are working to crack down on these illegal items entering the US.
Most counterfeit items are imported from Chinese manufacturers because they can be made quickly, cheaply, and with less regulations than the original product.
In fact, according to an OCED report, up to 60% of the counterfeit items that enter the US come from China. While these items may come with a less expensive price tag, they also tend to be of poor quality. For items such as beauty products, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, the CBP cautions that purchasing counterfeits can negatively impact your health as the items are not held to quality standards.
According to the CBP, the top 3 counterfeit items seized are clothing/accessories, consumer electronics, and footwear.
Amazon’s hand in the problem:
The Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program offered by Amazon has opened up the marketplace for counterfeit items in ways that the CBP has never seen. The open marketplace and ease of imports has allowed the distribution of illegal counterfeit items to skyrocket. Amazon has taken note and is working to combat the issue with a zero tolerance policy for counterfeit items that includes penalties such as fines, seller termination, or even litigation.
Amazon’s solutions hard at work:
Amazon employs a team of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators to comb through the massive marketplace to root out sellers of knock-off goods.
The company is also working to implement a brand registry program so that brand leaders can protect their items from being ripped off and sold on Amazon illegally. Consumers also have the ability to report fake goods that they come across.
Other actions taking place:
But the fight against counterfeiting cannot be fought by the retailers alone. The global shipping community is also working together to combat the transport of counterfeit goods all over the world.
In November 2016, leaders from global shipping firms, freight forwarders, brand owners, and industry organizations met in Brussels to sign the Declaration of Intent to Prevent the Maritime Transport of Counterfeit Goods. The declaration outlined the implementation of international rules and standards for preventing the transport of counterfeit goods, supply chain controls, means for raising awareness, among others.
What you can do:
As a retailer, you can help combat the sale of counterfeit goods by doing your research and only purchasing your wares from reputable manufacturers.
Keep price and availability in mind, if a product is priced much differently or is a generally hard to come by item but is found readily available by an alternate manufacturer, you are most likely dealing with a counterfeit. It is always best to keep the rule in mind that if it seems like it’s too good to be true it probably is.
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