’Tis the joyful season! Black Friday is just round the corner, ready to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and shoppers and retailers are gearing up for what promises to be another record-breaking event. Last year, the Black Friday sale, which is a four-day weekend event, saw sales of close to $17 billion. This year, this figure is expected to rise even more as shoppers look to buy great deals in time for Christmas.
These are huge numbers for American shoppers and for retailers around the world who are taking advantage of the rising popularity of shopping festivals, including the Double 11 of China. However, the festival that is the emblem of fun, frolic, joyful giving and unbound happiness is being marred by the bitterness of counterfeit products that have crept into the online marketplace. In an article of recently concluded Double 11 shopping festival in China, we talked about the problems of fake and bad quality products that people bought. US federal authorities are keeping a close watch on fake merchandise arriving on the shores of the country and are warning shoppers to be vigilant of what they buy, and from where.
Recent raids by US authorities, especially the New York City Police, uncovered fake goods worth millions of dollars. These products were clever copies of products from reputed brands — Louis Vuitton handbags, Nike sneakers, Michael Kors bags and wallets and a lot more. While authorities give some tips to avoid fake products like shopping from authentic retail outlets, avoiding shopping on the dark net and closely examining the products before purchasing, how does one protect oneself from fake goods that pose as authentic on reputed online shopping sites like Amazon?
While online shopping behemoths, like Amazon, are strengthening their anti-counterfeit activities, bad actors are also getting smarter by the day. In our earlier article, we explained how they use legit businesses to route counterfeit goods and then move it all across the US, just in time for huge shopping events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or send it back to China (from where they mostly originated) for the Double 11 event.
Last year, Black Friday became controversial for the huge amount — and variety — of fake toys that people found at literally throwaway prices, which were later discovered to be clever fakes. Fingerlings, Barbie, Lego and Crate Creature Surprise were some of the brands that were faked, much to the consternation of the brands and the customers. What is more disturbing is the fact that many counterfeit products sit atop the bestsellers list on Amazon, and people are finding it extremely difficult to spot a fake.
It is imperative for customers to protect themselves from the potential harm a fake product can do to them and their loved ones, along with the feeling of being ripped off. Try using common sense while buying and be a bit vigilant when browsing for products online.
· If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away from it. No brand would give you its product at a throwaway price and expect to make a profit.
· Don’t follow reviews blindly. They can be manipulated. Read them carefully. If a majority of them have been badly written, they probably are fake too.
· Look for where the product is coming from. If it is coming from China, it should ring a warning bell. However, as earlier noted, it might have come from a legit US business, after coming from China.
· Don’t be beguiled by images. They may not reflect the state of the actual product.
Even when following these tips and doing due diligence, chances are that you might end up with a fake. Such is the level to which counterfeit products have entered the ecosystem, especially the online one. To counteract this threat that harms the brand, the customer and the economy as a whole, there needs to be a holistic solution.
At simplyBrand, we have created a unique solution that is based on the power of AI, blockchain and decentralized verification. This three-fold strategy helps us create a platform that brands can use to spot, detect and blacklist merchants and online sites that sell counterfeit products. This blacklist is then visible to the customers as well as enforcement agencies.
Festivals are harbingers of all things good. Fake products should not bring sourness to the festivities. Let us work together to fight this menace and bring joy back to shopping again. Join us in our efforts. Take a look at our easy-to-use and state-of-the-art mobile app that allows you to participate in counterfeit detection and be rewarded for your efforts. Join our community and stay abreast of all the latest developments. Let us work together to clean up the online marketplace of fakes.
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