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Test Purchasing – The Do’s and Don’ts

Test purchasing is an important part of any brand protection strategy, whether you do it yourself, or anonymously through contacts. Sure, you don’t want to line the pockets of those who are abusing your brand, but …

[a] Several ecommerce platforms ask for proof of purchase images in confirming the non-authentic nature of products you are contesting.

And…

[b] Better the devil you know.

Test purchases can help gain insights into the fake or copycat product, the seller and the distribution network. This evidence is invaluable down the line when it comes to combatting counterfeiting, parallel distribution, and unauthorised sellers.

So, how does it help?

Identify counterfeits

Having a counterfeit product in your hand means you can compare like with attempted like. By identifying the similarities and the differences, you can stay one step ahead with your originals – both alerting your trusted customers AND ensuring manufacturing specs are updated appropriately. Comparisons are frequently requested as part of take down activities too.

Evidence gathering

A lot of online sellers hide their real identity. Through a test purchase you should be able to determine the business name and shipping address, which are often not shown before purchasing the product. This will provide you with valuable information about the seller’s identity when you take action against them – on and offline.

Identify unauthorised sellers

Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether a listing is a counterfeit, or if it’s emanating/coming from/being sold by a grey market distributor. Test purchases can help you decipher your unauthorised sellers from your copycats.

How to conduct a test purchase

Do:

Create a fake account

Never do a test purchase through your business account – the seller should never know your identity. Create a persona through which to conduct your test purchases.

Keep records

Keep all your emails, confirmations, receipts and delivery notifications. Also, take pictures of the items when they arrive, as many platforms require photographic evidence when you report a listing. All of this evidence is useable in court for offline action, and may be required when issuing takedowns on various online platforms.

Don’t:

Test purchase every suspect item

You don’t need to conduct test purchases on every item that you suspect of being a counterfeit or unauthorised seller. For most listings you should be able to gather enough evidence to take action without it. You can, of course, return fake items for a refund … some platforms are better at this than others!

Leave bad reviews

We know how incredibly infuriating it can be when you find an online seller who is abusing your brand. However, on many marketplaces such as Amazon, it’s against the terms of service to leave a review for a product that YOU have financial interest in. This could lead to YOU getting a ban from the platform.

How we can help

At SnapDragon Monitoring, we are trusted to protect brands online. Fakes and copies can have detrimental effects on your reputation, revenue and your customers, and it is our job, 24×7, to find and take them down. Our multi-national team of brand protection specialists detect, monitor and enforce against abuses of your intellectual property using our proprietary software, Swoop. We detect infringements over ecommerce, social media and domains so that you can be sure your brand is guarded online.

We also routinely perform test purchases if required and handle all evidence gathering and documentation – providing our clients, and their legal teams, with a handy report to be used for court action.

In addition, our new SaaS service is perfect for those who like to monitor and enforce themselves. Our Swoop software monitors on your behalf, and enforcement is something you/your team can then prioritise and action. If a demo would be useful, please contact us today.

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