Leveraging technology to curb counterfeiting
As consumerism in India grows, there is also an accompanied rise in the movement of counterfeit goods in the market. Several industry reports point to substantial proportions of counterfeit goods circulating across various product categories.
While corporates are aware of this menace, efforts to curb counterfeits often tend to be inadequate. In our experience, investing in anti-counterfeit technologies may provide better safeguards against counterfeiting. Some options are discussed below:
- Smartphone applications
These allow consumers to quickly check if an item is authentic prior to making a purchase. They also empower brand owners to identify, track, and prevent brand infringers from selling counterfeit products. Typically, retail companies can put a Unique Product Identifier (UPI) on the product or on the packaging. Consumers can use their smartphones to scan the UPI. If the item is counterfeit, the system will notify the consumer that the product cannot be authenticated. The smartphone app ‘Authenticateit’ follows this technique to check for counterfeiting. Some smartphone applications also allow users to take photos of possible counterfeits and upload them to an online map that’s linked to a GPS locator. ‘Black Market Billions’ is a crowdsourcing app that operates with this technique. This can alert other consumers about counterfeits in specific locations.
- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID can provide labelling technology like barcodes, but with greater capability. This technology embeds labelling information in non-volatile memory devices, which in turn embed into a product. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags come in various sizes (sometimes as small as a grain of rice), have greater storage capacity, and do not require direct line-of-sight for access. The absence of size and line-of-sight limitations allow RFID tags to embed virtually into any product for flexible labelling down to the item level. This capability enables automatic tracking and inventory control with strategically placed interrogators.
- Working with digital marketplaces
The proliferation of e-commerce has been accompanied by a rise in online sales of counterfeits and duplicate products. However, unlike physical market places, it may be relatively easy to combat online counterfeit product sales if organizations work closely with web platform providers. A simple move such as search engine optimization—where organizations invest to create content that promotes authentic products—can help consumers become more aware of authentic products, their features and pricing. Further, by adopting a more visible digital profile—such as having a web page with online sales capability, a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, etc.—brands can counter efforts by counterfeiters. E-commerce platforms are also increasingly blacklisting vendors providing fake products and initiating action against them.
Technology can be leveraged to counter fraud in a number of ways. You can read more here.
Authored by: Jayant Saran, Partner, Deloitte India