An Amazon package with a barcode

Anti-Counterfeiting: Will Amazon introduce product serialization?

Product pirates abuse popular e-commerce platforms like Amazon Marketplace to sell counterfeit or stolen branded goods as original products. Not only do they damage customers and manufacturers with their practices, but the operator’s image as well. Amazon, in many cases acting as a logistics service provider for third-party-sellers, has strict guidelines in place and seeks to delete and block any shady merchants. However, counterfeits are not always easy to recognize or trace back. In order to fight the illegal business still more effectively, the online retail giant may introduce its own serial numbers.

“Amazon Project Zero” testing brand protection solutions

An ad hoc launched project is to bundle the expertise of both manufacturers and Amazon in order to bring the number of illegal cheap imitations down “to zero”: As part of Amazon Project Zero, various actions are currently being tested to help brand owners track down counterfeit goods. Among other things, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to automatically detect fraudulent intents. The action plan also includes serialization codes that allow Amazon to verify the authenticity of a single product.

The Amazon serial numbers must be applied to the packaging (e.g. by using labeling systems or professional inkjet printers) by the manufacturers themselves. If a customer then orders such an item, Amazon scans the label with the code to confirm the product as an original. This way, counterfeit goods can be removed from circulation before they are delivered to consumers.

Serialization provides protection against forgery

Even apart from online marketplaces, serialization is already an important tool for anti-counterfeiting. For example, the EU Directive 2011/62/EU stipulates that the packaging of prescription medicines must be sealed tamper evident and serialized. The procedure is also suitable for numerous other applications such as in cosmetic, chemical, electronics, automotive or food industries.

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