In today's digital marketplace, the scourge of counterfeit goods has reached epidemic levels. According to some estimates, the international trade in counterfeit products increased by a whopping 154% over a roughly 10-year period, from $200 billion in 2005 to $509 billion in 2016. Now, the United States and other governments are working to stem the tide of fake and potentially harmful goods flowing to the global consumer base through eCommerce sites.
On a more microcosmic scale, when counterfeit goods are substituted for brand-name products it can hurt both the paying customer and the legitimate business in question. It is thus imperative that eCommerce companies protect their brand and their users from the ill effects associated with the purchase of counterfeit goods.
If you are an eCommerce business owner, what can you do in this regard? The following information will discuss 4 strategies that you can implement to protect your company and your customers from this widespread issue.
Encourage Your Customers to Buy from the Right Sources
Counterfeiters that deal in physical sales typically set up shop in somewhat suspicious, out of the way locales. In contrast, digital counterfeiters often settle within otherwise reputable online spaces, such as Amazon or eBay. This makes it that much harder for guileless consumers to tell the difference between a legitimate supplier and a shady vendor.
Nevertheless, there are some things that you can do to encourage your customers to make wise purchases - either directly from your site, or from verified 3rd party sellers. For instance:
- Provide a comprehensive list of approved 3rd party sellers on your company's official website. Periodically update the list to ensure that the information is still accurate.
- Offer discounts or promotions for customers that purchase directly from your site. This can give your users added incentive to buy from the source.
By encouraging your customers to buy from reputable sources, you can take away much of the desired profitability from a counterfeiter's scheme.
Educate Your Customers on Counterfeit Goods
Another way to fight back against counterfeiters is to provide educational and actionable information to your consumers. If your company has a blog, then dedicate some articles to a discussion of how counterfeiters operate, common strategies and tactics they use, and warning signs that a product may be fake.
In this regard, you may want to list out some common indicators that a product is counterfeit, such as:
- A price that is way too good to be true
- Imperfections on the product
- Misspellings on the packaging, tags, or even in the product description
- Suspicious customer reviews
- A seller that doesn't respond to inquiries
- No secure checkout
Create a Transparent and Consistent Experience
One of the best ways to fight against counterfeiters to make your customer experience as transparent and consistent as possible. That means providing a high level of detail to prospective buyers; eCommerce sites are not the place for coyness. It is vital that you give enough information to your customers so that they can make an educated purchase from your site.
Your brand's reputation is also enhanced with each prompt and courteous response to a user query. Your buyers will feel more secure when they experience your world-class customer service in real-time.
Moreover, familiarize shoppers with the identifying marks of your brand, such as:
- Your logo
- Your labels
- Your packaging
- Your warranty information
- Your serial numbers
- Your product terminology
In doing so, you make it that much more difficult for a copycat to pass off a fake item as one of your products.
Encourage Customer Feedback
Finally, seek to develop and maintain ongoing interaction with your customers. This is a wonderful advantage in the fight against counterfeit goods, for at least two reasons:
- Your customers will likely be the first ones to discover that an unauthorized seller has misappropriated your brand name. They are thus in the best position to alert you to counterfeit schemes of which you were previously unaware.
- When you build strong relationships with your customers, you encourage them to continue buying directly from you. Of course, fostering such loyalty in your consumer base indirectly discourages them from seeking out better deals from potentially counterfeit vendors.
In short, it's never a bad idea to take some time and listen to what your customers are saying; in fact, you may find that their feedback will help you to avoid many issues in the long run.
Remember, when it comes to the war on counterfeit goods, your customers are your first and last line of defense. If you treat them well by providing a transparent and consistent experience, encourage them to make their purchases from reputable sources, educate them on common strategies used by counterfeiters, and build strong relationships with them, then you're well on your way to protecting your brand from the scourge of counterfeit goods.
Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.
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