It’s a topic that stirs great consternation yet great apprehension.
The scourge that has become the unfiltered accumulation of counterfeit products for sale on digital marketplaces has the housewares industry, among most other consumer product sectors, in an all-out tizzy.
Yet, at the same time, considering the relentless rise of e-commerce as a must-sell channel— and Amazon’s relentless clout at the channel’s apex— it’s understandable why vendors have tread lightly when it comes to crying foul on the big online platforms for unleashing the flood of counterfeit goods.
Messing with the 800-pound gorilla in the room can be risky business. But the housewares business is starting to roar back.
This International Home + Housewares Show edition of HomeWorld Business (March 13) features a special report spotlighting the growing movement across the housewares trade to fight back against online counterfeits.
The report doesn’t merely highlight a growing online counterfeit problem that by now is old news. It sheds new light on the potential solutions being explored more assertively by vendors tired of watching their intellectual property hijacked by dubious third-party sellers that are evading culpability on legitimate e-commerce marketplaces.
The report examines paths vendors are taking to reconcile the problems. From intensified, if expensive, brand-monitoring programs that alert e-commerce sites about suspected violators to more decisive legal action against the platforms when calls for action seem disregarded, the industry is working harder to detect and deter counterfeiting.
The report also shows eBay and Amazon, among the primary digital marketplaces that created a cyber-sphere of third-party sellers so vast it seems all but impossible to police, more dutifully deploying anti-counterfeiting practices— perhaps for risk of putting their liability in the hands of the courts; or perhaps just because it’s the right thing to do.
There is much more at risk if online counterfeiting continues to go unchecked. It doesn’t just compromise the sales and profits of vendors already facing a constant struggle to sustain minimum-advertised-pricing on digital platforms. It also undermines legitimate store operators, e-retailers and third-party online sellers.
And while negative consumer reviews for counterfeit products assigned unwittingly to authentic products can drag down the reputation of the genuine articles, what’s more alarming is the potential for sub-quality fakes, perhaps some made with unlawful materials, to present a real hazard to consumers.
Nobody wants that reputation.
A solution to the online counterfeit epidemic will fall far short without adamant cooperation between vendors, retailers, digital marketplaces, trade associations and all other vested parties.
This is not a time for the housewares industry to tread so lightly.