Amazon Project Zero: Everything Sellers Need to Know

by Matt Ellis

Copycats, replicas and knock-offs may not be able to reproduce the quality of the original, but they can still take money out of the creator’s hands. Counterfeit products on the Amazon marketplace have gotten so bad that the marketplace is currently in the process of unveiling a new counter-counterfeiting initiative. It’s called Project Zero, and the goal is to reduce the amount of counterfeit products on the Amazon marketplace to zero.

So what’s new about Project Zero, and how do, Inc. ("Amazon") sellers fit in? Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

Amazon Project Zero’s Secret Weapons

How, exactly, will Project Zero reduce counterfeiting? The new initiative takes a three-pronged approach.

1. Automated Scans

The first, and perhaps most proactive strategy, is to scan Amazon stores using more sophisticated protections. New machine-learning technology (combined with data from sellers, which is discussed below) fuels the regular scans, which can cover 5 billion product listings per day. According to Amazon, these scans identify and stop 100x as many counterfeit products as the previous method of responding to individual reports.

2. Self-Service Tool

Rather than fighting product fraud on their own, Amazon is enlisting the help of the sellers to protect themselves. A new self-service removal tool allows participating sellers to flag and remove counterfeit products, rather than wait for Amazon representatives to review a case.

How will Amazon ensure sellers don’t abuse this privilege? Amazon requires that “brands must maintain a high bar for accuracy” when using the tool, as well as additional measures. “We have a number of processes in place to promote accuracy, including required training as part of Project Zero enrollment and ongoing monitoring to prevent misuse of our tools.”

3. Product Serialization

Lastly, Amazon offers an optional service of product serialization, where each manufactured product unit is given a unique code. This allows Amazon to verify the authenticity of every purchase for participating sellers, and more easily spot inauthentic counterfeits. This service incurs a fee of $0.01-$0.05 per unit, based on volume.

Where Do Sellers Fit In Amazon Project Zero?

Project Zero is more of a collaboration with sellers rather than Amazon taking care of the problem themselves. The self-service tool is the perfect example of Amazon’s inclusion of sellers in the war against counterfeiting — they understand having more eyes scanning the site will help them reach their goal of “zero” counterfeits.

Essentially, Amazon is giving more power to the sellers, in that they have the ability to shut down counterfeit listings faster than if they wait for Amazon reps to handle it. This kind of power is risky though, which is why the service is unavailable to the general public until they work out the kinks.

Sellers are also responsible for sharing their own brand data to optimize the daily site scans. Brands provide Amazon with data on “their logos, trademarks, and other key data” so that the scan knows what to look for.

Last, sellers also have the option to patronize the new product serialization service if they choose, although that service comes at a small price.

Amazon Project Zero Availability and Timeframe

At the moment, Project Zero is exclusively invite-only. It’s still in development, with a lot of experimental ideas and new tech that needs to be ironed out.

On the bright side, new brands are added to the program periodically, and sellers are free to enroll now. To be eligible, your brand must operate in the U.S., have a government-registered trademark and already be enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry. If you meet those requirements are would like to be an early member of Project Zero, you can join the waitlist here.

Stay Tuned

Counterfeiting threatens both sellers and Amazon alike, so it’s about time we work together. It’s in both parties’ best interests to find and eliminate counterfeit listings as soon as possible, which is why Amazon is willing to share some of its authority in removing listings. But considering the amount of power it’s handing off, it makes sense that they want to take their time to perfect the process. We’ll likely see Project Zero unveiling itself more and more throughout the year, but it will be interesting to see how close the new program comes to its mark of zero.

Originally published on April 16, 2019, updated April 16, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.