Shopping online continues to grow in popularity—online and other non-brick and mortar sales have been projected to grow 7 percent to 10 percent this year, outpacing the estimated 4.1 percent growth for the retail industry as a whole according to NRF. But buyer beware: with this growth comes opportunity for those looking to take advantage of bargain hunting consumers through the sale of counterfeit products.
On the Internet, it is often difficult to distinguish illegitimate from authorized resellers, which could explain why annual worldwide sales of counterfeit products now totals $1.7 trillion and constitutes as much as 10 percent of all product sales globally.
“Consumers have more buying choices than ever before, and are looking for the best possible deal. In some cases, these “deals” are on merchandise that is counterfeit,” says Loic Amans, Senior VP Finance & Strategic Planning at Ubisoft, a multinational developer and publisher of video games, including the Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dog franchises as well as several strong consumer product lines that need to be protected from counterfeit merchandise. “The result for Ubisoft is not only lost revenues, but also a potentially damaging consumer experience. For example, if someone unknowingly purchases a figurine or toy that they think is an official Ubisoft licensed product but is actually counterfeit, and it breaks or doesn’t perform in the expected manner, that consumer’s view of the Ubisoft brand could be permanently impacted.”
Capturing these lost revenues and ensuring a company’s brand promise is maintained requires constant vigilance. It also has a directly measurable return on investment. The results are so compelling that the industry has grown to $3 billion and $1 billion, respectively, on offline and online brand protection.
Ubisoft partnered with Numerator in 2014 to defend its consumer product brands from online retail fraud. Since then, Numerator has helped Ubisoft to thwart the sale of thousands of counterfeit figurines, toys and other consumer products worth nearly $3 million in counterfeit listings across the Internet’s most popular eCommerce websites.
'A Problem Worth Solving'
Droves of consumers log on to their favorite eCommerce websites every year to commence their holiday shopping the Monday after Thanksgiving in the hopes of capturing some of the seasons’ best online deals. In 2013, “Cyber Monday” sales increased 16 percent to a record $2.29 billion, according to Adobe Systems, which tracks Cyber Monday sales at approximately 4,500 retail websites.
As more sales move to digital commerce, the risk of online counterfeiting increases. Frustrated that search results on some major eCommerce websites included many counterfeit goods, Ubisoft made a commitment to stop counterfeit merchandise in its tracks.
Doing so wouldn’t be easy, as fraudulent sellers often pop up under different names, challenging companies to an unending game of Whack-a-Mole.
“Although doing so was a major priority, we lacked the time and resources required to find and remove counterfeit listings from websites,” explains Loic Amans.
The solution, Ubisoft decided, was partnering with an expert in the industry. “We wanted an expert partner with demonstrated, measurable results,” Loic Amans says. “We started seeing measurable improvement within six weeks. To date, Numerator has helped us to remove more than 12,000 counterfeit listings.”
Partnering for Success
Ubisoft commenced the vendor selection process in late 2013 and engaged multiple vendors. Three months later, Ubisoft North America signed a contract with Numerator to monitor some of its most popular consumer products franchises using the company’s automated brand protection solution.
“We were very impressed with Numerator’s track record and capabilities,” recalls Loic Amans, who says Ubisoft made its decision based on the following criteria...
A trusted peer introduced Ubisoft to Numerator via word-of-mouth referral which upon further diligence, revealed that Numerator has been an industry leader for over five years helping other companies protect their consumer product lines..
Ease of use
Numerator’s interactive dashboards make it easy to review results so Ubisoft can monitor progress in real time.
Numerator tailored its solution to Ubisoft’s requirements so that it could find counterfeit goods efficiently. For instance, it configured its platform to prioritize risk factors unique to Ubisoft. It likewise tailored its communications with Ubisoft based on the company’s unique culture. “They understood our goals and they spoke our language,” Loic Amans says. “It was clear that they were capable of being partners in the truest sense of the word.”
Compared to other solutions in its class, the platform has produced higher quality brand protection and measurable results without a higher cost.
We started seeing measurable improvement within six weeks. To date, Numerator has helped us to remove more than 12,000 counterfeit listings.Loic Amans, Senior VP Finance & Strategic Planning, Ubisoft
Implementing Numerator’s brand protection platform at Ubisoft took less than a month, and results were apparent within six weeks.
“We spend just one to two hours a week reviewing listings flagged by Numerator as potentially counterfeit, and negligible time responding to disputes; Numerator takes care of everything else,” Loic Amans says. “As a result, we have been able to find and remove more counterfeit merchandise—without additional resources.”
To date, Numerator has found and removed more than 12,000 online listings of counterfeit merchandise for Ubisoft, worth close to $3 million in sales. As a result, when customers search on popular sites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy, authentic merchandise shows up first.
“We owe our success not only to Numerator's technology, which is fantastic, but also to the Numerator team, which has delivered superior customer service at every turn. Their expert advice, fast response times and commitment to customer satisfaction have helped us quickly and easily turn a problem into a solution.”
Based on its early success, Ubisoft North America already has recommended Numerator to Ubisoft Europe, to protect its consumer product brands on European online marketplaces.
“Counterfeit merchandise is a global problem, and Ubisoft is committed to a global solution,” concludes Loic Amans, who says Ubisoft has leveraged Numerator's platform not only to fight cyber fraud, but also to improve its customer relationships. “Reclaiming our intellectual property on our toy, figurine, and other consumer product lines benefits our entire supply chain, from the employees and legitimate licensees who make our products to the authorized retailers who sell them, and the valued customers who ultimately purchase them.”