Adore Me’s uphill battle against fakes on Amazon

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A few years ago, Adore Me, like many other popular brands, found that proprietary images of its merchandise were increasingly being featured on Amazon under sometimes misleading seller names like “Adome.”

 It’s not a new problem at Amazon. Counterfeiting there has been a focus of federal regulators and Congress for years. The company has been on the receiving end of warnings from the U.S. Trade Representative more than once, for example. And founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos was hauled in front of the House Judiciary Committee over the issue in 2020. 

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“Amazon is a very competitive arena, using both what we might call white-hat and black-hat tactics. This is clearly on the more black-hat side of things,” Rick Watson, founder and CEO of RMW Commerce Consulting, said by phone. “For Amazon, this is the cost of doing business. As long as it doesn’t take over the site, they’re not too concerned about it. Not to say that they’re not concerned at all, but that’s their point of view. It’s not like this is happening to 10% of sellers – it’s like an edge case. And it’s not always easy to get resolved because you have to file cases and submit reports and sometimes it could take months to get some kind of resolution.” 

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That’s what played out at Adore Me. Alarmed that other sellers were benefiting from its branding, the decade-old DTC lingerie retailer reached out to the e-commerce giant, via an email system set up for such complaints.

“We would try to have these things taken down and the Amazon process — it’s not a definitive ‘No, we will not take this action on your behalf.’ It’s more like, ‘More information is needed,’ and kind of being circled around,” Adore Me Vice President of Strategy Ranjan Roy said via video conference call.

If Amazon did deem the grievance justified it would strike the listings, as seen in a 2019 email exchange between the companies that was viewed by Retail Dive. But those offenders would resurface almost immediately, using the same images and sometimes Adore Me product names, Roy said.

Adore Me has struggled to remove listings like this one from an Amazon seller (left) that uses one of its proprietary images (right) and sometimes its product names and other details.

Permission granted by Adore Me

 

Adore Me, reluctant Amazon seller

Growing more leery of losing customers to imposters, the brand decided to sell on Amazon itself. After testing a few products on the site, Adore Me in April opened an Amazon storefront, a step taken grudgingly because it has invested in tight control of its operations, including running two highly automated fulfillment centers and custom-building its tech infrastructure.

“For us, owning as much of the customer relationship — the tech stack, the logistics, everything — is what gives us good economics and makes the overall customer experience better,” Roy said. “But we finally got to the point that, if someone searched ‘Adore Me’ on Amazon, one of the counterfeit brands would show up, and we almost had to put up a storefront just to at least keep that customer who’s interested in us.”


“We finally got to the point that, if someone searched ‘Adore Me’ on Amazon, one of the counterfeit brands would show up, and we almost had to put up a storefront just to at least keep that customer who’s interested in us.”

Ranjan Roy

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Vice President of Strategy, Adore Me


Adore Me also hoped that becoming an Amazon seller might elevate its complaints. Yet the brand has been relegated to communicating via Amazon’s online Seller Central portal and has been unable to get anyone from Amazon on the phone. Roy calls the process “time consuming, cumbersome and ineffective.”

In an email, an Amazon spokesperson shared background information on the company’s brand protection efforts, including the use of automated technology to constantly monitor its site for potential infringement the moment a product is listed. After Retail Dive’s inquiry into Adore Me’s situation, the Amazon spokesperson said that the e-retail giant got in touch with the lingerie brand.

“We have identified and taken appropriate action against product listings that infringed on Adore Me’s intellectual property, and have reached out to the brand to understand and investigate their most recent concerns,” the Amazon spokesperson said.

Adore Me confirmed that Amazon’s “Brand Escalation” team reached out by email on Tuesday to schedule a call, saying they were “made aware” of Adore Me’s difficulty resolving IP issues on Amazon.



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