Amazon has expanded its Project Zero programme, which is focused on tackling counterfeiting, to seven new countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE – the Arab world’s largest economies.
Launched last year, the initiative aims to make sure that people buying from third parties through Amazon only receive authentic goods. The seven new markets added, which include Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, Singapore and Turkey, brings the total number of countries Project Zero covers to 17.
“We expect Amazon customers to feel both confident and safe when making purchases from our stores,” said Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon in the Middle East and North Africa.
The expansion of Project Zero to the UAE and Saudi Arabia is a significant investment, Mr Mouchawar said, adding, “We look forward to continuing to work alongside brands to drive counterfeits to zero”.
Amazon invested more than $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) last year to protect customers and brands from fraud, abuse and counterfeits, a company spokesman told The National.
“As a result of our efforts, 99.9 per cent of all products viewed by customers on Amazon have not received a valid counterfeit complaint.”
The company also launched a global counterfeit crime unit in June last year with experience in investigating and prosecuting crimes.
The globalisation of trade and the proliferation of e-commerce and social media have offered enormous opportunities for organised criminals to sell fake goods with greater speed and efficacy, a 2018 Global Brand Counterfeiting Report found.
The amount of counterfeiting worldwide totalled $1.2 trillion in 2017 and is set to reach $1.82tn by the end of this year, according to the report.
More than 10,000 brands including Arduino, BMW, LifeProof, OtterBox, Salvatore Ferragamo and Veet have enrolled in Project Zero, Amazon said.
“We are excited to see that Project Zero is expanding into the new marketplaces … The programme has already had a very positive impact on our enforcement efforts,” said Adrienne McNicholas, co-founder and chief executive of Food Huggers.
In March, the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives passed a bill that plans to make online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay responsible if customers buy fake goods on their platforms.
The US Government Accountability Office found that 20 out of 47 items purchased from third-party sellers on popular consumer websites were counterfeit.
Under Project Zero, Amazon’s machine learning-powered automated protections scan more than 5 billion attempted daily product listing updates to look for suspicious listings.
There is also a self-service tool that allows brands to remove listings they believe to be counterfeits. These removals feed into Amazon’s automated protections, so the company can detect similar potential counterfeit listings in the future.
The company has also developed a product serialisation feature that brands can apply within their manufacturing or packaging processes. This allows them to generate unique codes the company can assign to products, which they can then scan to confirm authenticity when they are listed by third-party sellers on Amazon.