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It has never been more important for shoppers to be extra cautious and keep in mind the risk of purchasing counterfeit, rather than genuine, goods online, says Simon Whitehouse, senior director, EMEA, at MarkMonitor.
Some of the UK’s leading online retailers are celebrating the success of their record-breaking ‘cyber weekend’ (November 27 to 30), which saw consumers spend an estimated £3.5 billion ($5.1 billion) online during the four-day period.
On so-called Black Friday alone, November 27, online spending grew by more than a third, with a number of retailers reporting their biggest ever day of trading.
According to data company Experian and trade group IMRG, online sales on Black Friday broke through the £1 billion mark for the first time, up 36% on last year to £1.1 billion, making it the busiest online sales period ever recorded.
The big question is, in light of those record purchases, were consumers caught out by counterfeits during their shopping sessions?
From sought-after luxury handbags to the latest electrical hairstyling tools, counterfeit sales represent an ever-increasing proportion of international merchandise trade, with even the most experienced shoppers being fooled by rogue sites selling counterfeit goods.
The vast majority of consumers today are aware of the issue of counterfeiting. In fact, 90% of respondents to a PwC survey on counterfeiting said they feel that the practice is morally wrong, yet counterfeit sales still represent 7% of all global trade.
Here are seven signs for brand owners to look out for.
Price: Counterfeiters are wising up and realising that sometimes it can be more convincing if an item is not heavily reduced.
The website itself: Although some websites look professional at first glance, counterfeiters aren’t always so careful on the ‘about us’ or ‘FAQ’ page.
Secure payment: Any time someone is asked for login details, or encouraged to enter credit card details, the page should be protected by a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection. A padlock icon will appear in the address bar when the SSL connection is active. In some browsers the address may begin with https://, which also indicates a secure site.
Check the web address: Impersonation of a brand’s website and cybersquatting are on the rise. If the address begins with https://, the ‘s’ signifies it’s a secure site. Some of the big brands have dedicated pages on their websites so consumers can check whether a seller is authorised.
Don’t discount social media: While online retailers are expanding their markets through the use of these digital channels, ‘brand jackers’ and counterfeiters are also taking advantage of them by impersonating brands in social media. The reach, transparency and viral nature of social media make it ideal for counterfeiters to exploit a brand and this has also been reflected in the world of mobile apps, with counterfeiters mirroring a brand’s apps to take advantage of the unsuspecting consumer.
Simon Whitehouse is senior director, EMEA, at MarkMonitor. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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