Amazon works with hundreds of brands to sell over 12 million products. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to be authentic.
Counterfeit products are a growing problem on Amazon and other online marketplaces. Imposters take advantage of the system to sell fake versions of the exact same product at lower prices. Revenue is lost and the original company’s reputation takes a hit when people complain about the poor quality items.
This problem doesn’t just impact sellers; it also impacts buyers who waste money on broken items and are at risk from potential safety issues.
What is Transparency by Amazon?
Transparency by Amazon was first launched in March 2017 in an effort to combat fake products. It was first launched for its own line of Amazon products as a pilot, then opened up to third-party sellers a few months later.
Amazon has slowly expanded Transparency to other countries over the succeeding years, and now it is available in the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and India.
How does Transparency by Amazon work?
When a brand signs a product up for Transparency by Amazon, they are given a series of T-shaped 2D barcodes. These codes are unique to each product the brand manufactures and are applied to the product’s packaging.
According to the official FAQ, Transparency is the only entity that owns and can generate the unique barcodes that the program uses. This centralization prevents codes from being faked by unscrupulous third-parties. Also, Transparency keeps a record of every code generated as well as the product they are generated for, so that investigators will be able to cross-reference codes and verify authenticity.
Amazon Fulfillment Centers then scan each product that passes through their facility. Products enrolled into the Transparency program that are not marked with the right Transparency code or don’t have a code at all are pulled from shipment and investigated according to Amazon’s anti-counterfeit policies.
Amazon customers within the United States can download a Transparency by Amazon app and authenticate the product themselves using their mobile devices. When a customer scans the product’s Transparency code, they will be able to see the product’s manufacturing date, manufacturing location, and additional product information such as ingredients. This additional product information is provided by the brand at their discretion.
How much does it cost?
Although Amazon has not publicly stated any prices for the Transparency by Amazon program, brands can expect to pay anywhere from $0.01 to $0.05 per code based on volume.
Since each code is unique to every individual unit produced, a shipment of 5,000 Transparency-verified products can cost you up to $250. Not a bad deal when you consider how much you could potentially lose to counterfeiters.
How do I sign up?
To enroll in Transparency by Amazon, you will need to:
- verify you are the legitimate brand owner of the product.
- display a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) such as a UPC code or EAN on your products.
- have the ability to apply a unique Transparency code on every unit you manufacture.
What if I fulfill my own orders?
If you fulfill your own orders, then you are required to provide Amazon with a Transparency code for every unit of Transparency-registered products you fulfill. This is so that Amazon can verify that you are only shipping authentic units to customers.
As for the customers themselves, they will be able to verify authenticity using the Transparency mobile app (provided the customer is in the United States).
It is worth noting that your customers will be able to authenticate products using the Transparency code no matter where they purchased the product, whether from Amazon or any other online or brick-and-mortar retailer.
How do I get the most out of it?
Like any program, Transparency by Amazon comes with both pros and cons. The additional layer of authentication is good, but it does lead to higher manufacturing and fulfillment costs.
Brands can take the edge off these additional costs by:
- Print the codes onto the packaging. Transparency codes can be applied to products via sticker labels, but cost more per code and are harder/costlier to implement during the manufacturing process. Instead, try to find printers that can incprporate the unique codes as part of the packaging itself.
- Prioritizing high-risk products. Brands don’t have to enroll every product on their product line to participate. You can choose the products with the highest risk of counterfeiting to be part of the program, then gradually expand Transparency to other products as the need or budget allows.