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What Is Amazon’s Transparency Program?

When is a fake actually a fake? When over a quarter of digital consumers can’t actually tell the difference.

Counterfeit merchandise may have existed for centuries, but there’s no doubt that it’s found a far too comfortable nest in eCommerce. Over $1.3 Billion worth of fake merchandise was reportedly seized by US Customs and Border Protection during 2020 as a result of online purchases—and that’s just the amount confiscated. The actual amount of counterfeit goods sold online last year could be inestimable.

Counterfeits don’t just affect the consumer. They affect your integrity as a brand. A recent survey from Incopro found that 52 percent of all US consumers lost trust in a brand after purchasing just one counterfeit product online. And in a user driven market like eCommerce, maintaining trust is fundamental to your longevity.

The problem has become so pervasive that even Amazon’s international market was recently named one of the most notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy by the Office of the US Trade Representative. But Amazon has been proactive in protecting brand integrity in recent years, investing over $500 Million in 2019 to actively combat fraud and seller abuse. And as counterfeiters grow continually more sophisticated in their techniques, Amazon is hosting new solutions to meet seller demands.

What is Amazon’s Transparency Program?

Transparency is a product serialization service introduced by Amazon in 2017 designed to preemptively protect the intellectual property of a brand by assigning a unique scannable barcode to each individual product registered in the program. By authenticating each product before its shipment, Amazon can verify its legitimacy to buyers and sellers alike by flagging counterfeit items and green lighting only verified products.

If it sounds redundant, it isn’t necessarily so. The sheer SKU line of available products on Amazon can be staggering—particularly for third party sellers, who reportedly sold $295 Billion in gross merchandise volume in 2020. In fact, the amount of sellers being added daily to Amazon Marketplace is so rapid that any estimate of just how much is available on any given day will be woefully inaccurate.

Each barcode Transparency generates is unique not just to a product line’s SKU, but to each individual unit sold. By coding each individual unit, Amazon can cross-reference and verify the authenticity of a product automatically and cancel any suspected counterfeits before a transaction is completed.

What makes Transparency unique is that it’s designed for both sellers and buyers. Customers can download Transparency directly onto a mobile app and authenticate registered products both online and in-store. By comparing seller-provided details (including manufacturer date and origin, ingredients and enhanced product information) with Transparency’s advanced scanning recognition, buyers aren’t just notified when an item is potentially fake. They’re directly engaging with a brand, establishing a mutual relationship based on trust and loyalty. An engagement which can enhance the customer experience by allowing them to be more than a passive consumer.

Who is Eligible for Amazon’s Transparency Program?

Right now, Transparency is available for both brands and third party sellers enrolled through Amazon Brand Registry. You can register both your entire product line through the program or simply top selling items which may see a greater risk of counterfeits.

In addition, eligible merchants must:

  • Have a valid product identifier (GTIN), such as a UPC or EAN code for all listings.

  • Have packaging or labels which fulfill Transparency requirements.

  • Meet specific quality control requirements.

  • All FBM sellers must provide Amazon with Transparency-generated code for each verified unit being shipped.

Please note that Amazon’s Transparency program is only available for both merchants and customers in North America, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, Japan and Australia. While the cost for each specific code varies based on volume, merchants can expect to pay anywhere from $0.01 to $0.05 per code, in addition to the cost of labels and packaging.

Counterfeits don’t just affect your brand. It affects consumer trust in eCommerce. At a time when consumers are more vulnerable than ever to deceptive and potentially harmful practices, sellers need to take proactive steps towards working with Amazon to ensure that trust isn’t eroded. And your role in ensuring the safety of eCommerce is just as vital as Amazon’s.


Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.

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