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Amazon’s Transparency Program: How to Protect Your Brand with Unique Serial Codes

Learn how to safeguard against counterfeiting and unscrupulous listing hijackers with the Amazon Transparency Program's unique barcodes.

A problem plenty of Amazon sellers encounter (and possibly you as well) is unscrupulous competitors.

Maybe you’ve been plagued by incessant listing piggybackers stealing the Buy Box from you – on your own product.

Maybe another seller cleaned out your inventory during a sale when you forgot to set a max order quantity.

Or perhaps a competitor is trying to saturate the market with counterfeits of your product to drag your brand reputation down.

Whatever the case, “imitation is the highest form of flattery,” and you can bet that once you reach a certain level of success, competitors will likely flock to you like ants to a summertime picnic, all hoping to steal a slice of your revenue pie.

Luckily, over the last couple of years, Amazon has slowly rolled out their Transparency program.

We’ll discuss:

  • What is the Amazon Transparency program?
  • How can you benefit from the Transparency program?
  • How do customers use Transparency?
  • Who is eligible for Transparency?
  • How much does Transparency cost?

Ready to learn how to better protect your products? Read on.

What is Amazon Transparency?

The Amazon Transparency program is Amazon’s solution to counterfeiting.

Transparency assigns a unique serial number to each of your product units. That way, every single one of your products’ authenticity is verifiable – and knockoffs will be easy to identify.

In addition to serial numbers, each product unit carries a scannable QR code. As Amazon fulfills your customers’ orders (if you are using the FBA model), they’ll scan each Transparency label before shipping to ensure only authentic products are being sent to customers.

man wearing yellow safety vest in warehouse scanning a box barcode with a hand scanner
This is definitely how casual and not-stressed Amazon warehouse workers look when scanning a box

How can Transparency help you?

Safeguard against counterfeits across ecommerce platforms and retail locations

Amazon’s Transparency program works not only on Amazon but anywhere your product is sold. If you also sell your products on eBay, Etsy, Shopify, or any other ecommerce platform (including your own store), your serial number and its unique barcode (that customers can scan) still applies.

“Anywhere your products are sold” includes physical retail locations. If your product is sold in stores, whether at a small business location or in a big box retailer, your Transparency protections will work.

Counterfeiters attempting to sell knockoffs of your products will also be penalized by Amazon. Versions of your product lacking a valid Transparency label will be investigated, and Amazon may suspend unlicensed sellers and/or have their counterfeit inventory destroyed.

Two cats comically boxing with boxing gloves
A visual representation of fighting off unscrupulous competitors

Build brand integrity

By imprinting a unique serial number on each of your product units, you’re guaranteeing that your products are authentic.

Just like gold standard brands such as Nike and Apple, having a unique serial number for each product adds perceived value and shows that your brand is serious – not just a “throwaway” get-rich-quick brand like the dozens that come and go on Amazon.

Join the ranks of renowned brands

Not sure about Transparency? Rest easy knowing that world-class brands are using the program for their own products.

Samsung, Seiko, Black and Decker, and Tetra are just a few of them. They’ve got their products protected – why not do the same?

How can customers use Transparency?

Verify authenticity themselves

person in business casual clothing scanning a cosmetic product box with a smartphone
I wish I looked this photogenic while scanning products in-store

Since the Transparency program works even off of Amazon, customers can verify the authenticity of your products themselves, no matter where they purchased them.

That means they can authenticate regardless of if they bought your product on Amazon, on another ecommerce website, or even at a brick and mortar store.

Learn product-level information at a glance

An additional benefit for customers, however, is that they can take advantage of Amazon’s Transparency app that enables them to scan the unique Transparency barcode on product packages.

After scanning, the app will display product-level information such as the manufacturer, ingredients, and other product details you specify.

This is especially useful for customers who find your product at physical retail locations!

Who is eligible for Transparency?

Be brand registered

The main criteria for Transparency program eligibility: you must have your product in Amazon’s Brand Registry.

(If you’re not brand registered yet, check out this blog about getting brand registered. Or, listen to this trademark expert’s advice on our podcast. You can also learn more about Amazon’s IP accelerator program here.

Two detectives, one male and one female, studying a bulletin board of crime scene case evidence
Sometimes figuring out how to navigate trademark and brand registration feels like an episode of CSI.

Be able to provide verification

You need to prove to Amazon that you’re the owner of the brand. Likely this will already have happened if you’re the brand registered owner, but be ready.

Have a GTIN – aka a UPC, EAN, etc.

Again, you likely already have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) if you’re brand registered, but if you aren’t yet or need to know more about UPCs and how they figure into your Amazon business, see our recent blog on barcodes.

Be able to apply the Transparency code labels onto each product

Just like you’re required to affix Amazon barcode labels to each of your products, you must also have a way to add the Transparency labels to your packaging as well. Since it seems that each label is unique, this may make it impossible for your manufacturer to mass print the labels directly on packaging; instead, you would theoretically need someone to apply the labels after packages are printed.

Be able to verify if you are an FBM seller

For each Transparency-enabled product you sell via FBM, you will need to verify the code. This will help prevent third-party sellers from trying to circumvent Amazon’s warehouses by selling counterfeits via FBM.

Be selling in the following marketplaces

Currently, Transparency is available in these Amazon Marketplaces:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • India
  • France
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • Italy
  • Spain

How much will the Amazon Transparency program cost you?

The Transparency program currently costs $0.01 to $0.05 per label, depending on volume.

  • Tier #1: 1 million units and under at $0.05 per code
  • Tier #2: 1 to 10 million units at $0.03 per code
  • Tier #3: 10 million+ units at $0.01 per code

This may add up depending on your volume, so it’s up to you to determine if the cost is worth it. Don’t forget to take into account that either you or your supplier/manufacturer will need to individually label products, which may also add to your total cost to implement.

Empower and protect your customers

The Transparency program might not be the be-all-end-all solution to safeguarding against counterfeiting and black hat competition, but like any other protective measure, it can be part of your arsenal.

Provide your customers with security and peace of mind by giving them the ability to verify the authenticity of products they purchase from your brand.

Want to learn more, or register for the program? Go here to find the registration form.

If you want some more options to protect yourself, take a look at Helium 10’s Alerts tool, which gives you real-time notifications if something is threatening your listing, such as piggybackers or someone else winning the Buy Box!

Do you have any experience with Amazon’s Transparency program? If so, how has it worked for you? Was it worth it? Let us know in the comments, or start a discussion in our Facebook group!

Kai Maranon

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