3 Steps for Excluding Counterfeit Goods and Protecting Your Brand

Retailers, whether online or brick-and-mortar, risk alienating customers if they don't make certain the products they sell are authentic.

By Tirath Kamdar

Ian Law / Shutterstock.com

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Despite recent buzz around e-commerce giant Alibaba's record-setting IPO, what is relatively unknown to everyday consumers is that the company is infamous for counterfeit goods being sold on its online marketplaces. Last year the company removed more than $115 million worth of counterfeit merchandise from a single one of its subsidiary websites alone, with fake items including everything from apparel to jewelry.

In order for Alibaba to see continued success and growth in an American market, it's more important than ever that the lucrative Chinese company erase any and all traces of counterfeit goods from its virtual shopping malls—especially with phony items continually sneaking their way into reputable and heavily visited online shops like Amazon and eBay, who recently settled a litigation with LVMH over fake goods.

Overall, finding a trustworthy place to shop is becoming a concern for consumers, particularly when it comes to luxury and designer products. Being able to properly identify red flags is often easier said than done; however, there are three actions businesses can take to minimize risks and protect themselves from selling counterfeit goods, ultimately protecting their brand, avoiding money loss and, most important, easing customer concerns.

Related: It's a Fake!

Verify authenticity

It is absolutely vital for businesses to adopt measures to verify the authenticity of products. With the rise in consign and sell shops, consumers need to be assured that that the items they are purchasing are not only in mint condition, but are also 100 percent authentic. Providing a certificate or some other proof of authentication with every order and a money back guarantee will enable consumers to shop with the utmost confidence.

Companies that take every measure necessary to validate the integrity of goods will save dollars and enjoy peace of mind.

Be transparent

When it comes to more expensive, luxury items, it's especially important to make the shopping experience as seamless and approachable as possible, which starts with being completely transparent with consumers. Consumers want to trust the platform they're shopping on, so businesses need to provide all the necessary information for them to make educated purchases.

Familiarizing consumers with your business and your products, offering clear labels and packaging (i.e. warranty information, serial numbers, etc.) and providing real-time, concierge-type customer service will make shoppers feel safe knowing that their purchase is from a legitimate source – protecting your company's reputation and validating your brand.

Related: Be Vigilant Against eBay Buyer Fraud

Encourage feedback

One of the best practices a company can undertake is ongoing interaction with their users. After all, consumers are the backbone of any retailer and can play a significant role in combating counterfeit items by reporting any suspicious information back to the business. Encourage feedback from your consumers and get back to them with thoughtful responses, making the experience much more personalized and building lasting, loyal relationships.

The most successful businesses are the ones who engage their consumers, whether it's offering recommendations on items or providing reimbursement or exchange for items that do not meet expectations.

The sale of counterfeit goods has increased significantly over the past several years, but by simply verifying authenticity, practicing transparency and encouraging consumer feedback, businesses can take action to safeguard their brand, reputation and overall profit.

Tirath Kamdar

CEO and co-founder of TrueFacet

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