What you’ll learn
Amazon Transparency program is to fight against counterfeiting. The sale of low-quality and fake products can harm your reputation as a seller, get your account suspended and give your customers ugly experiences.
Counterfeiting is one of the challenges plaguing the eCommerce industry, and the Amazon marketplace is not an exception. As a brand owner, you need to take measures to protect your brand and products from counterfeiters. In the past years, Amazon received severe backlash from the media due to counterfeit products sold through its marketplace.
Registered sellers can now leverage the program to protect their brands and improve their customer experience.
What is the Amazon Transparency program?
Amazon Transparency Program is a serialization service used to verify the genuineness of products before being shipped to the end-users. Launched in 2017, the transparency program helps registered brand sellers to protect their brands from the activities of counterfeiters. As a pilot program, Amazon tested the program on its product line, and when it recorded success, it expanded the program to accommodate third-party sellers.
Amazon Transparency is only available in the following countries:
As more third-party sellers continue to record success with the program, Amazon will expand the initiative to other world regions.
How does the Amazon Transparency Program work?
The transparency program uses a complex labeling system to ensure that only authentic units will ship to customers. The moment you join the program, you will be issued a series of unique T-shaped 2D barcodes, which you will apply to your product packaging. The codes are unique to each product, unlike GTINs (global trade item number) or UPCs, which sellers have touted to be unreliable.
Before you ship any item to your customers, Amazon will verify the product’s authenticity by scanning the barcode. Any product that fails the authenticity test or without a barcode is flagged as a potential counterfeit. To make the process easy, Amazon has provided a Transparency mobile app that buyers can deploy to verify the genuineness of products purchased online on their own.
Once a buyer uses the app to scan transparency codes of a product, the app will display a red cross if the code is invalid. Similarly, it will also display a green checkmark, showing that the code is valid and the product is authentic.
Registered brands can also use the Transparency app to provide important information about their products to customers, such as manufacturing date, place, expiry date, and other sensitive information. The manufacturing date helps buyers know whether or not the product is still valid and not expired.
Does Transparency work for FBM sellers?
There are two selling options on the Amazon marketplace: self-order-fulfillment through Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). With the latter, sellers can store their products at Amazon’s inventory.
Amazon is responsible for packaging and shipping the products to end-users when they place orders.
For FBM sellers, Amazon will require you to provide unique codes for every transparency-enabled item that you put on sale. Amazon guarantees that only authentic units are delivered to customers with this approach. Even though Amazon for your products generates the codes, you, as the seller, must provide the codes for your FBM products before Amazon completes the sale cycle. The transparency codes are applied on each FBM item packaging.
Benefits of the Transparency Program
The program is beneficial to both customers and brands. Below are some of the reasons why you need to consider enrolling in the program:
#1. Make more Profits
More often than not, counterfeit products are low-quality and fake products sold to unsuspecting consumers under other companies’ brands. With the introduction of the transparency program, counterfeiters will find it challenging to sell your products, as they do not have the unique transparency codes generated for you by Amazon.
Once a person tries to sell your product and cannot provide the unique codes assigned to the product, Amazon will flag the product as fake. As such, the company will not ship the product to customers. Your sales and bottom line will naturally increase by eliminating counterfeiters from your business.
#2. Protect your at-risk products
Sellers with best-selling products are likely the be confronted with the problem of counterfeiting. At-risk products include apparel, electronics, popular toys, and even watches. To tarnish your brand image, a black hat seller would be tempted to sell a fake version of these products. Transparency will prevent that black hat seller from achieving their aim, as the person won’t have the unique codes to your products.
#3. Prevent potential damage posed by counterfeits
The program helps prevent potential damage to your brand posed by counterfeiters. Amazon may shut your listing if your customers continue to file a negative report about your brand delivering fake products. And the longer your listing is off the Amazon marketplace, the more money you lose.
#4. Prevents bad reviews
Customers will be unhappy when they receive fake products after making payments. As a seller whose interest is to make money, the last thing you would wish for is to have a customer write a bad review about your brand on your product page and social media. If not handled properly, this could ruin your brand image, as most shoppers trust online reviews. But with the introduction of the program, your brand is protected.
How much does the Amazon Transparency program cost?
Even though Amazon has not made it clear to sellers what they are expected to pay to join the program, you can expect to pay anything from $0.01 to $0.05 per barcode. The amount you would pay depends on the number of transparency-enabled units. For example, you can expect to pay approximately $50 if you have 1,000 units of product in line to be authenticated.
If you sell luxury items or high-priced products, it is recommended that you join the program; this will help you prevent any loss that you would have incurred due to counterfeiters. As your business expands with new offerings, you can gradually expand the Transparency program to accommodate your other products based on your needs and budget.
Another expense you need to keep in mind is the cost of applying the barcode labels on your products/units. You can simplify this by requesting your suppliers or manufacturers to print the label on the products at the manufacturing stage. However, while this approach will cost more, it will save you time.
Alternatively, suppose you don’t have the funds to pay your suppliers or manufacturers to apply unique transparency codes at manufacturing. In that case, you can apply the barcodes yourself using the appropriate printers during the packaging process. The latter will save you more money.
How to enroll in the Amazon Transparency Program?
Enrolling in the Amazon transparency program is straightforward. But you must first meet the program’s requirements. The requirements to join the program include:
- You must apply unique transparency codes to each of your products.
- You must be a legitimate brand owner and show evidence of the same.
- You must display a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) on all your products.
Once you’re sure you can meet all the above requirements, to enroll in the program, follow this step-by-step guide:
- Head straight to the Amazon transparency page and click on the “Get Started” button. A short form will pop up for you to complete.
- After completing the form, click on “Request more information.” This will let you gather more information from Amazon about your enrollment.
- If your application is approved, you can then select the product you want to authenticate using Transparency codes.
- Instead of enrolling all your products at once, start with your high-priced product first.
Are there any drawbacks?
As with anything, the Transparency program has its drawbacks, some of which include:
#1. Extra steps in the shipping process.
This Amazon program is an extra step that may consume your time if you are a new product. The automation process of applying labels to your products may be tricky and cumbersome, as every code is unique.
#2. Not a free service
The transparency program comes at a cost; it is not free!
As of writing this post, the cost of applying the transparency labels to your products is between 1-5 cents per label. The price is highly dependent on your order volume. That’s not the only cost you will incur before shipping your products. You will also incur the cost of printing and applying the label to your products.
#3. Eligibility requirements
As with other Amazon opt-in programs, the Amazon transparency program comes with some prerequisites before you can join the program. As a seller, you must work towards meeting the requirements before applying to join the program.
#4. Transparency is only for your listings
Another major drawback of the transparency program is that it is only for your listings, and you will need to raise an IP concern if counterfeiters attempt to sell your product outside of your listing.
Amazon Transparency vs Brand registry
Brand registry and Amazon transparency are two great initiatives instituted by Amazon to check fraud and counterfeiting and also protect both buyers and sellers in their marketplace. While these two initiatives also help sellers maintain their brand credibility, they differ in some ways.
You already know what Amazon Transparency is all about and what the program seeks to achieve: to check or prevent counterfeit.
Let’s talk about what the Amazon brand registry is. The Amazon brand registry is an initiative designed to help sellers verify and protect the authenticity of their brands.
The program serves as a tool to help you find and pinpoint unauthorized product pages and violations. At its core, the Amazon brand registry program lets you search the marketplace, find product listings or logos similar to yours, and then provide you with everything you need to submit a detailed report.
The eligibility requirements to enroll in the Amazon brand registry program vary by country. To enroll your brand, you must provide the following information:
- A brand name with an active registered trademark.
- The trademark number.
- The names of countries where you manufacture and distribute your brand’s products.
- A list of product categories (for example electronics, sporting goods, or apparel).
When enrolling in the program, be diligent about lower and uppercase letters and punctuation. The brand name must match the trademark text; otherwise, your application will be rejected.
How does the Transparency App work?
The Transparency app works like every other app used to verify a product’s authenticity or genuineness.
Customers will need to download the Transparency app on their smartphones to verify if the product they purchased from the Amazon marketplace is genuine or not. Once downloaded on your phone, you can launch the app to scan the transparency codes printed on inventories.
For a product that is authentic, the app will display a green check mark, telling you that the transparency code is valid. On the other hand, if you scan the transparency code using the app, and it pops up a red cross mark, it tells you that the code is invalid and the product is likely to be a counterfeit.
As an Amazon seller, you should take a step further by including more unit-level product details via the Transparency app, such as the product’s manufacturing date, plant, and ingredients or materials used to produce the item.
Transparency barcode requirements
For every product you intend to enroll in the Amazon transparency program, you must apply unique transparency barcodes on the products.
Transparency barcodes are different from conventional barcodes, as the latter only indicates a product’s UPC or GTIN, while transparency barcodes contain the following:
- The product ID which can be the product’s SKU, EAN, UPS, or FNSKU.
- A unique, non-sequential alphanumeric code generated by Amazon.
Transparency barcodes may also contain the product’s manufacturing date, expiry date, ingredients used, and manufacturing plant depending on the seller.
How to create Transparency codes
Transparency codes are unique to every product listed on the Amazon marketplace. The codes are usually generated by Amazon.
The transparency codes will be applied at the Amazon fulfillment centers if you ship your products to your customers through Amazon FBA. But if you are operating through the Amazon FBM business model, you must print the transparency codes out from your seller account and label them on each product before shipping to your customers.
Product counterfeiting is one of the numerous challenges that retailers and sellers on the Amazon marketplace face. Counterfeiters can damage your reputation and brand’s image and cause a severe revenue loss if left uncontrolled.
Enroll your products in the Amazon transparency program. Since it is a product serialization service, enrollment into the program means that your customers will continue to receive genuine products and trust your brand to make them happy.
As a brand-registered seller, peruse the Amazon transparency program requirements, so you know what’s required of you to join the campaign. Help Amazon fight against counterfeiters and help the marketplace continue to grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the transparency program in Amazon?
In simple terms, the Amazon transparency program is a product serialization service developed by the company to fight against counterfeiting. The program is used to verify the integrity of a product before shipping to customers.
What is the cost of the Amazon transparency program?
The Amazon transparency program costs an amount within the range of 1-5 cents per code.
How do I get transparency codes?
The best way to get the Amazon transparency code is to use the Amazon app for iOS or Android to scan transparency codes printed on packaged products. It will display a green checkmark, indicating valid codes.
How do I add Transparency codes to Amazon?
The process of adding transparency codes to Amazon is simple. All you need to do is visit your “Manage Orders” page to identify all the orders that come with a transparency badge. Then, click on the order number and confirm shipment to launch a new section. Finally, enter the transparency codes in the new section.
What is the transparency app?
The transparency app is a mobile app that users can deploy to scan the barcode printed on packaged products to authenticate the genuineness of the product. The app is available both on Android and Apple, and you can download the app on your mobile devices.
What is the transparency code in Amazon?
The transparency code in Amazon is a unique alphanumeric barcode printed on all packaged products before delivery to the final consumer.
How Does the Transparency Program Work for FBA and FBM?
If you’re an Amazon FBA customer, the transparency codes are generated and labeled on your packages at the fulfillment centers before shipping them to your customers. On the other hand, if you are an FBM seller, you will have to print the transparency codes generated by Amazon and label them on your products before shipping.
How do customers respond to counterfeit goods?
Once a customer uses the transparency app to scan a product he/she purchased on Amazon and discovers the product to be counterfeit, the customer can take a step further by reporting the counterfeited products to the transparency team.
Is there a limit to the number of transparency-enabled products?
There’s no limit to the number of products you can apply the transparency codes. You only need to ensure that only valid codes are applied to your products so you don’t get into trouble with your customers and even Amazon.
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