In recent years Amazon has come under increasing pressure to crack down on fakes listed on its e-commerce platforms. However, despite their lawsuits against counterfeiters and the creation of tools designed to remove illicit products, public scrutiny has continued to grow.
Frustration with the company has led some brands to completely stop selling on Amazon and, in late 2019, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (which represents 1,000 brands, including Gap, Adidas, and Target) recommended that five Amazon sites be added to the US government’s annual list of Notorious Markets.
It appears that Amazon is responding to criticisms that it's not doing enough to fight back against counterfeiters, and has reportedly been meeting with government authorities and related organizations. As reported by Reuters, "The hope has been that Amazon’s coveted data will help law enforcement make connections about criminals. According to the source, Amazon will report a merchant’s name, company name, product and contact information to authorities, after it confirms a business was selling fakes, closes the seller’s account, and the account holder does not make a successful appeal via Amazon’s typical processes."
This move by Amazon could be a step in preventing illegal fake products from making their way into the hands of consumers. The safety concerns regarding counterfeit products, which are often made with inferior – and sometimes dangerous – materials, are real. Fake baby toys have been found to endanger children, counterfeit cannabis vapes have caused a public health crisis, and poorly made electronics have resulted in fires that have cost families their homes.
However, given that Amazon controls over a third of US e-commerce sales, they are also in a position to make a major impact in another way. An aspect of counterfeit sales, which often goes undiscussed, is how the black market also hurts economies, supports criminal organizations, and encourages unethical hiring practices or work standards. By cooperating with law enforcement and utilizing advanced technologies such as solo*, companies can affect change in these areas.