It is indeed necessary to be sure that the goods we are buying online are not counterfeit because in the E commerce market this indeed is a major problem especially because we see the goods only when they are delivered. At Eunimart we feel that neither a genuine seller nor a buyer would want to be entrapped in the counterfeit game. As Mr. BK Rao, Sr. Category Head Marketing, Parle Products, once said, “Wilful counterfeiting means there is a lacuna in the brand itself. That means the original brand is somewhere weak. That is why a consumer is willing to go for a fake product. The brand hasn’t made itself counterfeit-proof and there is an opportunity for the brand to address and to fulfil that consumer need gap in terms of pricing, distribution and manufacturing.”
Hence the problem of counterfeiting has different sides. It could spread because consumers are willing to buy counterfeit, or because the seller is wilfully selling or because the fake good looks so authentic that the buyer purchases it without realizing. The important thing is for a country to have stringent laws to protect brands and fine the counterfeiters and even possibly people who wilfully purchase them because the price may be exceptionally low in which case any intelligent buyer is liable because he knows or suspects it is fake.
Some feel that the online e commerce market has indeed encouraged fake goods because marketplaces connect the buyer and seller and in many cases there is no control over the authenticity of the product. Global counterfeiting has increased not marginally but voluminously and reports suggest that the world counterfeit market is set to grow. This problem thus needs to be countered because brands are being adversely impacted, and marketplaces can be held responsible for the same too.
The idea here is to find solutions to the problem of counterfeit goods in e commerce. Eunimart suggests:
- Technology can help a brand in the first place to counter the counterfeiting attempts. Software allows you to identify the authenticity through a scanned bar code that can release information as brand ownership details. There is also an app by the Government of India that serves the purpose called the Smart Consumer App.
- As experts say if we utilize universally accepted standards we can implement a track and trace system to achieve greater transparency throughout the supply chain which can avoid what is counterfeit. Let us not wait for the consumer to discover counterfeit goods in e commerce.
- Artificial Intelligence available to us today can be further used to combat the counterfeit goods problem in e commerce. Just as the problem might have grown with the online marketplaces connecting third party sellers, so also technology has empowered us today to solve the problem.
- AI can be used to detect counterfeit and block insecure and illegitimate advertisements that promote counterfeit goods. Tracking and tracing technologies of block chain can be utilized to determine the origin of the product and its current status in the supply chain system.
- Of course brands can protect their own intellectual property rights but when the goods go a long way it is difficult to trace the same without AI powered tools to demarcate them. So AI based tags that help consumers to scan the open part of the tag and check for authenticity with a certain probability is good to adopt. Every major marketplace is cautious today about counterfeiting. It got a mention in Amazon’s annual report and Alibaba has also started using a ML based system that can help detect not just counterfeit goods but also sellers. So solving the problem of counterfeit goods in e commerce is much easier today and must necessarily be implemented by marketplaces and of course brands.
- Another solution which is simpler is the use of a web and mobile application and SMS facility by which brands can authenticate their products and so can consumers check the authenticity. This can be a protection measure against tampering or copying.
- The idea is to attack the evil at the roots and so brands need to be extra vigilant and strict about their products. Hence it is advisable to provide an informative and perhaps visual guide so that consumers can easily distinguish between a real and a fake good. The onus lies on the brand to make visible that part of the product which is the most difficult to replicate. This can help online consumers to make informed decisions.