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Mon Oct 30 2017 21:27:27

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

By: Ina Steiner

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Can eBay and Amazon stop Chinese counterfeiters? One expert in the area of China manufacturing says not easily, but another question could be asked: do they want to?

Former CEO Meg Whitman opened eBay's doors to China-based sellers over a decade ago, much to the consternation of domestic sellers. Categories like pottery were soon filled with reproductions, causing problems for both buyers and sellers. Fast forward to 2017, and business publications like CNBC and Forbes are full of stories about the negative impact of Chinese counterfeits on brands and merchants - particularly entrepreneurs who have successfully branded their own inventions.

This week, Forbes described the problem in an article titled, "Amazon And eBay Opened Pandora's Box Of Chinese Counterfeits And Now Don't Know What To Do." The story is written by a contributing freelance writer based in Asia, Wade Shepard, who reports on emerging markets, technological developments, and urbanization "as seen from the ground," according to his bio.

Shepard described the frustration of the entrepreneurs behind a product called the Blooming Bath. He wrote, "Chinese counterfeiters also found the Blooming Bath adorable - so darn adorable, in fact, that they decided to copy it and sell it themselves on Amazon and eBay."

The story line isn't new, but the perspective is. Shepard says Chinese counterfeiters aren't bad people out to destroy the businesses of others. "Rather," he writes, "we're talking about a completely different manufacturing ecosystem that operates under a different set of rules than in the West." Where things go wrong is when they sell their items in North America and Europe, where marketplaces welcome international sellers with open arms.

Amazon might have learned something from watching eBay, but either it didn't, or it chose to ignore the lessons provided by eBay's experience. According to Shepard, "Amazon really began recruiting Chinese merchants into their marketplace in 2015, creating a streamlined way for them to sell their merchandise directly to buyers in the USA, Canada, and Europe. According to a report on CNBC, Chinese sellers on Amazon doubled that same year and the e-commerce giant's profits rose by 20%."

The author doesn't predict a happy ending for small US brands - as long as sites like eBay and Amazon operate as open marketplaces, the problems domestic sellers face in dealing with Asian counterfeiters will continue unabated, he says.

The problem also impacts shoppers - an EcommerceBytes reader recently opined about one of the problems with eBay: "too much junk from China and far too many listings to wade through to find anything else."

Is there a way for eBay and Amazon to rid their sites of counterfeits while at the same time welcome international sellers across their global marketplaces?




Comments (32) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Oct 31 02:32:21 2017

The overpopulation of listings on Ebay from Asian sellers is only partially due to counterfeits.  The larger number is duplicate listings that Ebay allows them to have.  Thousands of them.  It is very difficult to wade through them when you are looking for something.  But that isn't to say that the problem with counterfeits isn't important too, because it most certainly is.

Ebay nor Amazon will get anywhere with this issue until they start actively working on it.  It wasn't a problem that appeared overnight and it isn't one that is going to disappear overnight.  But they have to start and that they have not been willing to do so far.  

They seem to be just ignoring the problems brought to the sites due to the various issues with Asian sellers.  Both Ebay and Amazon created the problems, it has to be them to step up to take charge and start to work through the issues.  It will take time, money and a well trained staff committed to the issues at hand.  I don't know if either site really understands that they need to get moving on this for the health of both sites and the communities they have built.  This affects both buyers and sellers.

It is a complex issue to be sure.  So they really need to get started.  It will never get better if they don't get started.  And if they just keep putting it off they could end up strangling the sites in certain categories that may never recover.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 31 05:30:24 2017

@ Marie:
''It will take time, money and a well trained staff committed to the issues at hand.''

I would also say ''desire''.  I see no sign from either company that they have the desire to attack the problem, if they even actually recognize it, other than empty PR statements, as a problem.

Coupled with all this also is the preferential treatment, by international treaty, the Chinese receive on postal shipments that provide them a large percentage of profit that a US based seller can not even approach and stay in business.

I personally think that, other than lip service, none of them give a hoot as long as the money rolls in.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 31 05:41:43 2017

They could if they really really were concerned about fake goods. BUT WE ALL KNOW ITS ALL ABOUT THE DOLLARS...

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 31 08:01:34 2017

The most important piece of information in this article is that sales rose by 20% due to Chinese sellers.

Etsy is the worst offender in this regard.  Etsy started out as the premier marketplace for authentic vintage and handmade goods.  They also allowed supplies to be sold which allowed the Chinese sellers to have a way into the site.

When Chad took over he redefined the meaning of "handmade" and then the floodgates opened. Today Etsy doesn't even pretend to try and stop them.  People are allowed to sell goods labeled "made in China" as vintage and handmade.  Etsy claims they are trying to take down the shops but that's a crock of  BS.  

Face it- they will never stop allowing this fraud until they stop making money at it.

Etsy, Amazon, Ebay could solve this problem by separating out the merchandise and shops.   Have a dedicated section for strictly artisan Handmade.  Have another section for authentic vintage.  Don't allow the imported crap into these sections and strictly enforce the requirements.  

This way they can have their cake and eat it too.  They don't have to give up the lucrative import business.  And they will be doing a service for their loyal US sellers who have been the victims of their greed.

PS- because the people who run these e-commerce sites seem to be long on avarice and short on common sense, I don't expect to see this happen in my lifetime.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 31 09:14:54 2017

Think about it. The Post Office just might become profitable if these sites stopped the chinese etc scammers for selling. After all when you pay 10 cents for an item and the post office has to ante up another 1.10 per epacket to ship it to you they might actually become profitable.

The chances of this happening are about as good as Clinton going to jail.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 31 10:05:57 2017

I think (LORD .. its a MIRACLE) this is a topic where we ALL agree ... (wow)(maybe I should go out and play the lottery)

Its up to the platforms themselves to stop it. Greed (from many places) encourages platforms to have a "blind eye" towards it.

eBay and Amazon (I dont sell on Etsy so I cant comment on them) have no reason to stop - beyond giving lip service to the relevant authorities that they "are doing something about the scourge of fakes".

eBay makes money off VERO takedowns (they sell VERO members software and contracts to search the site to find infringers) for them THATS where the money is, and Amazon makes money off the sales - NEITHER has any real reason to stop the flow of cheap Chinese knock offs.

On Amazon - the game is so advanced, that the sellers of fakes know to send in their garbage into FBA and have it get commingled so that the junk cant be traced back to them. Amazon is so busy charging pick pack fees ect to care.

eBay makes so much off the FVFs ... theres no reason to stop the free money.

........ unless the government steps in - it wont ever change.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Tue Oct 31 10:25:47 2017

Remember earlier this year, where there was a rash of Chinese sellers on Amazon, all with little to no feedback, and offering high-demand items at deep discounts?

Most all had American names attached to Chinese selling accounts. I even saw a Chinese ''seller'' named Todd Flanders (who is a character on The Simpsons) offering the newest Nintendo console for 1/4 of retail when they were selling for a marked-up price on the secondary market.

So, counterfeit accounts, as well as fake merchandise from the East, is another problem. This was swiftly addressed by Amazon, since they were losing money by having to issue many refunds when these bogus vendors did not fulfill the orders.

It was also a public relations nightmare for the River. The new two-step verification system should get rid of inauthentic Marketplace seller accounts, both here and overseas. Or at least curtail them.

As far as merchandise is concerned, this is another story. Copied goods are not only allowed, they seem to be also encouraged. Wenig posing with a newly manufactured in China Pan Am Airlines ''vintage'' travel bag comes to mind.

Think about it. If eBay actually pulled all the Asian duplicate and fake merchandise listings, it would leave a big dent in their (1) Amount of active sellers, and (2) Available dollar amount of goods on hand. And this would certainly not help their stock price.

If it wasn't for the ePacket program, would there even be an eBay anymore????

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

This user has validated their user name. by: BuildingMyOwnSite

Tue Oct 31 13:17:58 2017

Antique & Vintage dealers in the U.S. have been dealing with this forever.  Now Chinese slaves are knocking off Handcrafted items within DAYS.  Magazines like Antiques, Maine Antique Digest, and others have been full of this for 30 years or more.  AV dealers have been calling for better Customs  Protection for decades.

Microsoft has been trying to stop counterfeiting for decades.  Now it's Apple.  And now, there's even a new “3rd Shift” at legit Asian firms where they bring in even lower paid workers, to FAKE THEIR OWN GOODS.  After all, it's better to sell a bunch of leather purses on the street in New York, LA, or on Ebay,  for 400.00, than to NOT SELL ONE AT ALL !!!)  If you can't afford 4,000.00 purse, how about a 400.00 fake?

In 2015 Amazon registered with the Maritime Commission to provide ocean freight container shipping  from places like China, to Amazon’s FBA centers in the west. Makes it cheaper to ship from China to the USA than to send the same package domestically.

Walmart, way back in the 1990's, (with the Rubbermaid debacle), and then Amazon, Ebay, AND Etsy, have all INVITED China to their tables, and have all profited hugely from it.  After Etsy sold out, the entire discussion of trade protection died at the corporate third party seller level.  NONE of them are interested in ANY discussion of the matter.  

@pace306 said:  “........ unless the government steps in - it wont ever change.”
  —  100% Correct, but  government can't solve it because “THE FREE MARKET WILL ALWAYS FIX IT”.  

@pace306 said:  “Its up to the platforms themselves to stop it. Greed (from many places) encourages platforms to have a ''blind eye'' towards it.”
  —   100% Correct, but  the free market can't stop it because of the urban myth that they are legally liable to their stockholders to make as large a profit as is possible, and because of the depths of depravity that the “NEW” American corporations have sunk.

This issue is here to stay, and I personally place the blame squarely at the feet of consumers who have ditched Quality & Service, for the 1 legged stool of Price.

Great, Fine, Good.  Where are your kids going to work?  The 2 biggest issues of the 2030's:
1) Who “GETS” to have WATER?
2) Who “GETS” to have a JOB?

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 1 04:38:44 2017

They CAN immediately stop Chinese Counterfeiters but Ebay and Amazon make truck loads of money on counterfeit items,  no single entity , no government agency, and no law has been able to even slow them down, they will continue to promote it, they sell it day in, day out, 24/7

This Just goes to show you, if you have good lawyers on staff, and enough money, you can make tons of profit from Counterfeiters, if it where someone else they would be in prison by now.

 

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 1 14:59:48 2017

fleecebay won't do anything.

the idiot ceo went to china and told them to make replicas / fake / counterfeits

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 1 20:14:06 2017

''...place the blame squarely at the feet of consumers who have ditched Quality & Service, for the 1 legged stool of Price.''

Just so.  Even eBay wouldn't be able to sustain their focus on mass volume favoritism if the trinkets related had no market - just because they are cheap.   But as long as people are not discriminating, moreover, are not EXPECTED to be responsible for their own choices that have a significantly higher chance for being a 'dissappointment', the counterfeit 'problem' will never be 'corrected' beyond the lip service 'acknowledgement' that it exists - like that which manifests itself in so many false VERO accusations on eBay for example.  None of which seem to ever occur in Mandrin.

Meanwhile the venues will keep promoting what the folks seem to keep buying.

The fact there are so many other related 'issues' with how that happens, and what it does to the rest of the market - and to the venue itself - falls well below profits on the scale of what is and ought to be more 'important'.

And the fact there is also a legal liability?  THAT can be 'corrected' with legal tender.  In this case, Renminbi.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 00:09:59 2017

From what I have seen and heard neither Ebay or Amazon has any problem dumping American, Australian and UK members, so what is the hang up with Asian sellers?

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu Nov 2 00:20:12 2017

I went to the Blooming Bath website to see where their product is made (China). However, they "passed it through all of the required materials and safety tests." If they had a Made in USA sticker that might distinguish them from the knockoffs—knockoffs potentially using tainted materials. But that is obviously not cost effective or they would already be making their product domestically.

Like pace306, I blame greed—greedy titans of commerce and greedy purveyors of CHEAP who facilitated Jeff Bezos becoming the wealthiest man in the world.  

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: azseller68 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 00:56:32 2017

I don't think they can ever stop the counterfeits completely, but they could probably get rid of a big chunk of them if they made VERO claims free and easier to file for legitimate trademark holders, have a dedicated team to act on those claims, and enforce a strict policy of account closures for repeat offenders. It's amazing that eBay may suspend an honest seller for receiving an unsolicited message from a customer that includes a phone number in it, but they look the other way when a seller from China offers a rip-off product. They really need to get their priorities straight.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: moonmyst This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 01:00:24 2017

eBay won't do anything about the counterfeiters. All the Chinese sellers brings too much money to the table. I am constantly reporting counterfeits of famous jewelry designers -- even going so far as to say what makes them fake. But eBay just ignores me and lets the listings stand.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless

Thu Nov 2 01:03:44 2017

A while back, there was a discussion on the eBay Weekly Chat Board concerning shipping costs of returned items, often counterfeit, to Chines sellers.  

In the chats, our Uncle Griff maintained that the Chinese seller was required to  pay the return shipping cost but Griff could not explain how this would be enforced.

Does anyone know if this was ever resolved?

Allowing the Chinese sellers to flood the marketplace with counterfeit items is bad enough without adding tacit permission that permits them to ignore eBay's returns policy.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 02:39:07 2017

Buyers should see the words 'SHIPPING FROM CHINA" in big bold black print to make it stand out.  On AMZ esp. you can't tell where it's shipping from until you get to the checkout.   At least Ebay does have the location shipping from, but still those words should stand out.  Let the consumer decide.
I have bought little electronic devices and storage devices from China and they are good products.  So there needs to be some restriction on WHAT china is allowed to sell.
As a buyer, the one thing I worry about is returns.  How long is it going to take to get to China?  How much it will cost to ship vs. what I paid for it (free shipping).
1/3 of AMZ's sellers are Chinese per Marketplace pulse report.

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 02:43:19 2017

I just went to the Blooming Bath website.  Wow! what a great invention!

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 02:45:18 2017

Is there a way that the companies, like Blooming Bath, can enter into an exclusivity contract with AMZ, so that it is the ONLY OEM that can sell the product?  I see exclusivity at Bed Bath and Beyond.  A lot of Shark Tank and as seen on TV is exclusively with BBB.  I don't see why this product (and others) can't do the same?

Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?   Can eBay and Amazon Stop Chinese Counterfeiters?

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 2 05:13:51 2017

Luxor hotel themselves knocked off my items way back in the 90's after I worked that line for 4 years - the only satisfaction I got out of the whole deal was that the merchandising director ordered a whole container of crap that looked absolutely nothing like the American made product I created and NEVER saw the number we were running every again. Small revenge for all my work but the point is early 90's those tricky chinese who have never had an original thought of their own started this crap. It was always in the hands of the greedy higher ups. Their the sole engineer of their own demise. It's too late for ebay to salvage themselves - the program now is keep abstracting as much moula from the pockets of the sellers and buyers till yur displaced then move on to the next CEO who starts the whole process over and over again.  We need a new site. One that has no "corporation" attached to it. Hard to accomplish these days as the big dogs will just chew you up.

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