Amazon is taking new steps to help sellers battle counterfeiters in its online marketplace, according to a news report.
The e-commerce giant is testing a new set of digital tools called Brand Central to help merchants prevent other sellers from copying and selling their products, tech news site CNET reported on Tuesday.
In recent months, Amazon’s (AMZN) marketplace, which sells everything from toilet paper to Mickey Mouse t-shirts to exercise equipment, has come under fire for counterfeit items. CNBC reported earlier this year that counterfeit items sold by third-party sellers—many of whom are China-based—are an increasing problem.
According to the report, Amazon has been “courting” more Chinese manufacturers, raising the risk of more counterfeit merchandise in its marketplace. Because of this, some sellers are losing trust in the marketplace and are even complaining of a loss in sales.
Apple recently said that many of Apple-branded chargers for smartphones and laptops sold on Amazon are fake, for instance. Amazon is an authorized reseller of Apple products.
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In response, Amazon started in August to impose steeper fees and require additional paperwork from suspicious sellers. The fees, which ranged from $1,000 to $1,500, were assessed to sellers who sold counterfeit items. A few weeks ago, Amazon also filed its first lawsuits against sellers who allegedly sold counterfeit goods on the site. The company, which says it invests tens of millions of dollars annually to combat sales of bogus items, employs a team of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators to root out counterfeits.
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According to CNET, the new anti-counterfeit tool will help sellers protect their trademarked goods and ensure that the source of the items they sell is legitimate.
Amazon is likely trying to ensure that sellers don’t flee its marketplace during the holiday season, its busiest time of year. It must reassure sellers that they are not at risk of losing sales to competitors selling fakes at lower prices. According to a CNBC report, Forearm Forklift, a seller of exercise equipment, saw annual revenue plunge 30% since 2008 because of competition from fakes on Amazon. Amazon is also trying to send a message to shoppers that everything they buy is authentic.
Amazon isn’t the only e-commerce giant to deal with counterfeit problems. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has also struggled with fake items. Specifically, Alibaba’s flagship e-commerce marketplace Taobao, has been known for selling counterfeit goods.
Amazon did not respond for a request for comment.