We look at the top websites for selling counterfeits, and review their anti-counterfeit and reporting methods.
The market for counterfeits is changing. Commerce apps such as Wallapop and The Hunt are being targeted by counterfeiters. Fake websites purporting to sell popular branded 'factory seconds' for enormous discounts are discoverable through a quick Google search. Facebook buy-and-sell groups are becoming flooded with fake products. It may seem like an impossible war, but a targeted brand protection solution can have an enormous impact.
To gain an understanding of the global counterfeit market, and your brand’s own level of counterfeit, is the first step toward securing products and brand equity. Brands that do anti-counterfeiting right are aware of this, and many have employed strategies that provide intel on counterfeit retailers. With this in mind, we’ve created a list of the top sites selling counterfeits:
Alibaba-owned Aliexpress has come under fire for fakes, and these legal pressures caused Alibaba to create a dedicated IP enforcement team in 2015. Since the announcement, buying fakes on Aliexpress has become a little less overt, but is still widely practised. Sellers can no longer search with genuine brand names, but dedicated unaffiliated websites are releasing ‘cover’ keywords that will yield results for branded goods.
Another means of purchasing counterfeit products on Aliexpress is through Yupoo, a Chinese photo-sharing site, which is becoming used as a third-party ‘catalogue’ for counterfeit products. Users post photos of products, and customers must contact the seller directly - typically via apps such as Whatsapp and WeChat - to receive a purchase link hosted on Aliexpress. The page will usually appear to sell a different, unbranded, product, which acts as a front for the counterfeit item being sold. The circuitous process was reported on by WTR who also provide advice on requesting Yupoo page takedowns.
Alibaba’s Taobao is undoubtedly the biggest e-retailer in the counterfeit game, with reports that 67% of products sold on Taobao are fake. The shopping platform has gained a global following for its low-priced products, causing the US to blacklist the marketplace over its notorious reputation for fake products. The marketplace's language is Chinese, and does not deliver internationally, but working with Taobao agents its discounted products are becoming more popular in the western world too.
Argentine marketplace and online aution site is Latin America's most popular choice for e-commerce, but the company has been under serious pressure to revise its IP protection strategy following high numbers of discovered fakes. In 2015, Adidas removed $50 million worth of products from MercadoLibre, and companies such as Levi Strauss and Luxottica have complained of the time-consuming takedown process, resorting to daily monitoring of the site (see our webinar: Just how do you stop repeating IP offenders?)
After facing legal action for sales of counterfeit products, eBay launched eBay Authenticate, a unique service that asks experts to review product authenticity. For a fee buyers can opt into the certification service which then offers a guarantee. The e-commerce platform have also launched a Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) protection scheme, whereby certified rights holders can report illegal listings for automatic takedown. In this respect removing an item from eBay is fast, and gives the power back to the brand or agent acting on behalf of the brand. However, the manual search required to find and document listings may prove time-consuming, particularly for a larger company.
Snapdeal & Flipkart
Based in India, Snapdeal and Flipkart, who have announced a company merger, have both garnered notoriety for selling of counterfeits. In India’s fast-growing market, counterfeiting is a spiralling problem, and as an industry functions atypically from a Western market: in India buying and selling counterfeits through Whatsapp is becoming popular, in an unnervingly untraceable method of transaction.
Some brands, like Ray-Ban, have taken on the problem of counterfeiting in India by launching their own e-commerce sites and refusing to sell on Indian platforms. But after facing legal action, the ‘Amazons of India’ Snapdeal and Flipkart, have doggedly fought to defend themselves, responding to claims of fraud by quickly delisting sellers of counterfeits and refunding buyers.
Since encouraging Chinese sellers onto the marketplace in late 2015, Amazon have been blamed for the breakdown of several small companies following the subsequent surge of counterfeits on the e-commerce site. Corrupt distribution channels and a misleading sense of authentication have caused widespread reproval, and many retailers have had to resort to self-policing the site for infringing products, and even to buying the offending products to prove the lack of authenticity. Like eBay, Amazon have stepped up their anti-counterfeit game by launching plans to give brands more control on their marketplace. There are fears that counterfeiters, historically resilient, will find a workaround to continue selling, but until the scheme rolls out fully it is difficult to review.
For the meantime, every brand should seek to refine their brand protection solution to cover e-commerce channels, in order to preserve equity. Depending on the level of counterfeit, self-policing commerce platforms may prove effective, but many companies may prefer a tech solution for greater efficiency and detection reach. If you're unsure where to start developing a brand protection solution, take a look at our free eBook on Selecting a Brand Protection Solution. Alternatively, find out more about our Brand Protection solution: