Protect Your Brand with Amazon Transparency

If you’re an eCommerce business selling on Amazon, protecting your reputation should be central to your long-term brand strategy. Counterfeit goods can call that reputation into question, so Amazon Transparency is here to protect both you and your customers. Let’s learn more.

What is Amazon Transparency?

Amazon Transparency is an extra service which brands can sign up to and prove that their products are genuine. Every single item is given a physical serial number, which gets scanned to check its authenticity before it’s shipped to customers. Customers can also scan this code themselves with their phones for added peace of mind.

If a brand signs up for Amazon Transparency, it has to apply these serial numbers to each and every item it sells, even if that sale isn’t made via Amazon. This also applies to third-party sellers who sell your products, preventing unscrupulous people from hijacking your listings.

Since being trialed in the US for its own products in 2017, Amazon Transparency is now also available in:

  • Canada
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • The United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • India

Since it’s a global service, you only need to enrol for the program once and you’re covered for all these marketplaces.

Amazon Transparency vs GTINs

Global trade item numbers (GTINs), like universal product codes (UPCs) and European article numbers (EANs) do a similar job to Amazon Transparency codes. However, they apply to your brand and each product type or stock-keeping unit (SKU). Amazon Transparency codes apply to every single individual item.

For example, if you sell 10 of the same SKU, you’d have one GTIN but 10 Amazon Transparency codes to apply. That being said, GTINs are a requirement of signing up to Amazon Transparency.

Why is Amazon Transparency needed?

eCommerce only shows signs of getting bigger and bigger. Worldwide sales of $1.3 trillion dollars in 2014 became $4.3 trillion in 2020 and are projected to hit $6.4 trillion by 2024. But eCommerce is exactly the same as any booming market; not everyone in it has the best of intentions.

Counterfeit merchandise causes hundreds of billions of dollars of damage to the global economy each year. As eCommerce continues to win market share, unscrupulous sellers will continue to find ways to abuse customers’ trust.

Proactive initiatives like Amazon Transparency let reputable brands fight back, protecting customers as well as their own reputation.

How does Amazon Transparency work?

Think of how big electronics manufacturers ship every brand-new laptop with a unique serial number. That way it can be traced back to its maker and customers now it’s legit. Amazon Transparency lets you apply that process to all your products.

Once you’ve successfully signed up for the program, you’ll be given stickers with individual Transparency codes for each unit of each product which you enrol in the program. You don’t need to do this for all your products if you don’t want to.

If you’re shipping the items yourself (Fulfilled By Merchant or Seller Fulfilled Prime), you’ll need to let Amazon know the codes you’re applying to each unit.

Otherwise, you apply the codes before you ship products to the fulfilment center. Amazon will scan products when they arrive, as well as immediately before they get sent to the buyer.

If you’re using Fulfilment By Amazon, this should all be handled on your behalf using the same process.

Once the buyer receives what they ordered, they can use the Amazon app to scan the code themselves.

How much does Amazon Transparency cost?

Amazon doesn’t publicly list the cost of its Transparency program. Depending on the volume of products you’re selling, expect to pay between one and five US cents per barcode for the protection they offer.

Compared to the potential losses and reputational damage from counterfeit goods, this should work out as a pretty good deal for most eCommerce retailers.

What is the Amazon Transparency Customer Engagement feature?

As of Spring 2021, Amazon has significantly expanded the customer’s experience when scanning Transparency codes using their phone app. Now, scanning the code lets you do more than prove the item is authentic. You can also:

  • Personalize the experience with branded content
  • Run marketing promotions to upsell and cross-sell
  • Let customers share your content on social media
  • Receive product reviews and ratings in-app

These new features are available in all the same places as Amazon Transparency, except India for the time being.

What are the benefits of Amazon Transparency?

The ability to protect your customers from fake goods comes with three principal benefits to your brand, and ultimately to your bottom line:

Protect profit margins on your high-value items

Some products are simply at a higher risk of counterfeiting than others. Designer goods, toys, electronics, and makeup are all more tempting targets than lower-value stock. Even if you don’t enroll everything you sell, you can make an informed decision about which products are worth protecting the most.

Make life harder for crooks

Doing something to prevent counterfeiting is always better than doing nothing. Even if you haven’t been hit by unscrupulous sellers yet, it’s a good idea to contribute to an environment where it’s more difficult for them to operate.

Secure the reputation of your brand

Visibly taking steps to prove your goods are exactly what you advertise is a confident step, and customers love to see it. The mere presence of an Amazon Transparency barcode on a product gives a customer reassurance, even if they don’t actually scan it themselves. It shows you take their concerns seriously.

Are there any downsides to Amazon Transparency?

Nothing in life is perfect, and there are some elements to consider when deciding if Amazon Transparency is right for you:

  • It’s not free, it adds a few cents to the cost of every item
  • The process adds extra steps to shipping
  • You have to apply barcodes even if you’re not selling that specific item on Amazon
  • It doesn’t add any protection outside your own listings

In most cases, however, the extra security the program offers represents a big net positive for your business.

How can brands enrol in Amazon Transparency?

You need to meet a few requirements if you want to enrol your business into the Amazon Transparency program:

  • You need to verify yourself as the brand owner
  • Your business needs to be on Amazon Brand Registry
  • Products need GTINs
  • You need to be able to put a Transparency barcode on every unit in your inventory

If you meet those criteria, you can sign up via Amazon Brand Services.

More tips to protect your reputation on Amazon

When used as part of a full best practice policy, Transparency helps protect your business. Understanding other areas where your reputation can be maintained lets you use the program at peak effectiveness.

When putting together your strategy, think of the following:

  • Ratings and reviews from customers can show you how you’re perceived on the digital shelf
  • Your Amazon Account Health highlights areas for potential improvement
  • Pay attention as Amazon’s rules and guidelines evolve over time

Final thoughts

Amazon Transparency is just one of many, many options you have as an Amazon seller to present your brand at its best. eCommerce is all about reputation; proactively giving buyers peace of mind is sure to bring long-term benefits and healthier profit margins.