E-retailers have come a long way since the advent of e-commerce in India in the early 2000s. Other than a few cautious buyers, most have become comfortable purchasing an entire range of products online. However, nowadays a lot of e-commerce customers are left fuming because of counterfeit vendors gaining a foothold even in reputed e-commerce sites.
In October 2014, the Delhi High Court prohibited Gurgaon-based online marketplace, ShopClues from using, manufacturing, marketing, selling, displaying or advertising the name of L’oreal while selling products. The cosmetic company had filed the civil suit alleging that a vendor named Brandworld was selling fake products bearing its trademark on ShopClues. Other leading brands like Tommy Hilfiger, RayBan and Skullcandy have also filed similar lawsuits against ShopClues and the Delhi HC has approved provisional injunctions against the website, restraining it from the sale of counterfeit merchandise of these brands. A ShopClues spokesperson commented on the issue saying, “We believe that our ability to partner with brands to protect their intellectual property rights is far more than what is available to them in the offline retail world. And, most brands recognize that. Together, we have made great progress in addressing this issue”.
Snapdeal, another Indian e-commerce leader, has also found a few counterfeits listed on its website. A Delhi based customer got knock-offs when he ordered Nike Air Max shoes from Snapdeal for INR 9,445. The customer was able to decipher that it was fake as he discovered that nikebetterworld.com was misspelled on the shoe as nikebetterwold.com. A Snapdeal official stated, “Snapdeal recognizes sellers who have good sales track record and takes actions against the sellers who engage in selling fake products. In case of any violations, upon being adequately notified, Snapdeal takes down such listings in accordance with the rules and polices provided on Snapdeal”.
Mystery shoppers are employed by various e-commerce big-wigs to sieve out counterfeits. Top players like Amazon India and Flipkart have managed to remain free from counterfeits because of stricter seller background verification checks.