Key to Brand Protection: Monitoring Marketplaces
In order to protect your brand, you need to be monitoring not only your own digital assets, you need to be monitoring all the marketplaces where your brand is sold, or your brand could be hijacked. eBay, Amazon and Alibaba are just a few. Companies that want to be successful in marketing their brand will stop at nothing to promote it. By the same token, due to the threats that brands face in the online marketplace, they are beginning to realize that brand protection is equally as important. One such threat is online counterfeiting and it's a big one.
Counterfeit Goods Run the Gamut
Children toys, prescription drugs, auto parts and airplane parts are just some of the vital items available on the counterfeit market today. Fashion brands are another huge counterfeit market. Brands that have their products counterfeited suffer greatly in terms of reputation, customer churn and most importantly, their bottom line takes a huge hit. That being said, brand owners need to put in place the proper mechanisms to identify and prevent counterfeits of their products from being sold on the various marketplaces out there. This is no easy task and while some seem to doubt this could work, it is vital to protecting your brand.
A solid online monitoring strategy should be comprised of a constant review of online marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay. Such marketplaces are more and more being accused of fueling the illegal online counterfeiting trade. These marketplaces have increasingly been put to the task themselves in monitoring sellers for any violations of trademarks. Marketplaces such as Alibaba have been identifying vendors in its marketing who sell counterfeit products. Online counterfeiters are getting shrewder and more sophisticated in the ways they are moving counterfeit goods in the online marketplace.
Marketplaces Monitoring Themselves
Outside firms which deal in brand protection are tasked with hunting down phony versions of their clients' products online. These firms state that that online markets such as Alibaba and its affiliates Tmall, Taobao and Aliexpress are working hard to change their reputation of being a haven for online counterfeit trafficking. These marketplaces no doubt are concerned of carrying this reputation and have been making strides to clean up their act. While such marketplaces have been making serious efforts to eliminate counterfeit goods from their selling platforms, they claim that such efforts are not full-proof and are not always successful, mainly because of the savvy of the counterfeiters. In the final quarter of 2012. Taobao was removed from the list of notorious marketer by the US trade representative. The office said the site had decreased the sale of products infringing trademarks and was continuing that effort. Early in 2014, Alibaba filed a report with the office noting that Taobao removed over 114 million listings they consider suspect in the first 3 quarters of 2013. Last year the company announced that it had signed agreements to cooperate with the likes of companies such as Louis Vuitton as well as with such groups as the China-Britain Business Council, the International Anti-counterfeiting Coalition to monitor and identify items that infringe trademarks.
Experts say that the approach that Alibaba has been taking is very progressive and they are finding the process to get better and better. The online counterfeiting scene is always evolving, learning from the industry and adapting, so that they can sell more fake goods online. A major point of difficulty for Alibaba as well as the other big ones is the sheer amount of listings. Some say they empathize with Alibaba as policing all those listings boggles their mind.
Marketplaces Offering Incentives to Buy
Over the past 8 years, utilizing a variety of methods including sophisticated algorithms has cut the incidents of infringement in half. These algorithms have halted many listing of even getting posted in the first place. eBay for instance has it's eBay money back guarantee which gives people an incentive to buy from its site as one of its' anti-counterfeiting measures. Amazon is another that offers an A to Z customer guarantee to create a safer marketplace for buyers. But, counterfeit sellers who face getting their accounts suspended and may be blocked on one listing, setting up another account to try and circumvent protection is just one tactic to push their fake goods through. As you can see, the key in fighting online marketplace counterfeiting is monitoring those marketplaces for violations of your brand and trademark. I feel that with some help from the online marketplaces in monitoring their own platforms, which has been getting better, the negative impact to your bottom line will decrease dramatically and one day in the future will be greatly diminished and one day, we are all hoping will be eliminated entirely.