In April, Amazon released its third annual brand protection report, with an update of activities to ensure authenticity of goods sold in its store, and to ﬁght bad actors.
In recent years, the online retail giant has taken considerable steps to strengthen its brand protection activities, by investing more than $900 million and 12,000 people – including machine learning scientists, software developers, and expert investigators – into developing tools for protecting customers, brands and selling partners, from counterfeit, fraud and other forms of abuse.
One of these tools is the Transparency product serialisation service, where registered brand owners apply unique 2D codes, generated by Amazon, to every single unit of a selected product. The code is then veriﬁed for its authenticity by Amazon before the product is shipped to the customer. The code can be scanned throughout the supply chain and by customers, using the Amazon Shopping App or Transparency App, regardless of where the product was purchased.
As a further development, in 2021, Amazon launched Transparency's track and trace service, allowing brands to trace products in their distribution channels and access enhanced analytics on customer returns. This service helps brands visualise trends in product defects at a factory or manufacturing lot level, and ﬁx root causes.
This was followed, in 2022, by the launch of a Transparency badge placed on product detail pages within the Amazon store. The badge alerts customers to the fact that the products they are purchasing carry a unique code applied by the brand owner and veriﬁed by Amazon.
According to Amazon's latest brand protection report, Transparency saw continued adoption in 2022, with the total number of brands enrolled in the service growing to over 33,000, an increase of 40% compared to 2021.
How does it work?
To be eligible to use the codes, brand owners must ﬁrst enrol in Amazon's Brand Registry with a government-registered trademark. They must also have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) for their product, such as a UPC, ISBN (for books), or EAN number. And they must have the ability to apply unique Transparency codes to every unit they manufacture, regardless of where the units are sold.
The brand owner advises Amazon which products they want enrolled in the service, and provides information on the manufacturing and composition of these products. Amazon then uses this information to generate a 26-digit code.
Each code is unique, alphanumeric, non- sequential, and printed as a 2D barcode on the product packaging, together with the Transparency logo. It can be ordered either as a pre-printed over-label or as a 'design- in' feature that incorporates the code directly into the product label. Amazon provides brand owners with a small list of preferred Transparency service providers from whom they can order the labels.
The Transparency service is the only entity that owns and has access to the code generation protocol. Additionally, Transparency keeps a record of every code, along with the product for which it was generated, and uses that information to authenticate products.