June 2021 | latest update: 07.09.2023 | by Lili & Oliver
Keeping up with the newest trends and innovations in our industry is very important to us, therefore we at globaleyez regularly participate in conferences and seminars. So when our Managing Director Oliver was asked to present his thoughts on Shopify and be the sole speaker in APM’s latest online seminar Counterfeits all inclusive: Fakeshops on Shopify, he gladly accepted.
"Shopify offers a great platform to set up highly appealing-looking webshops in a very short time and gives all tools at hand that are critical for success in ecommerce. Unfortunately, this not only helps honest businesses but counterfeiters as well. Therefore, we need to make brands aware that the professionalism of fake shops is constantly changing and on the rise, by taking advantage of infrastructure platforms like shopify. We need to show that it is possible to fight these fake shops and secure consumer and brand by cooperating with the platform."
Founded in 1997, the Aktionskreis gegen Produkt- und Markenpiraterie (APM) is an anti-counterfeiting association in Germany that unites actors (industry-specific federations and companies alike) across all industries in the fight against counterfeiting. APM members include well-known companies like Adidas, Beiersdorf, Daimler, Philip Morris, and Volkswagen.
APM fulfills a wide variety of functions (e.g. creating connections between companies and policy makers, raising awareness for the importance of IP protection, lobbying for a more effective legal framework, etc.) to further its main goal: ridding the world of counterfeits. As a part of its operation, APM regularly holds seminars that are very popular and of high interest to representatives of any industry.
Especially so for online brand protection experts.
As mentioned before, the topic of Oliver’s presentation at APM’s online seminar was Shopify, and with good reason. Founded in 2006, the Canadian e-Commerce company based in Ottawa allows businesses to set up and run compelling webshops without any hassle.
Screenshot of Shopify’s homepage
Further than that, Shopify even helps its customers with branding, marketing, handling payments, shipping, and much more. The company offers three membership plans to customers, starting at only $29 per month.
As an article by investment company Accel points out: “After more than 20 years of Amazon’s dominance in the US, Shopify democratized the once expensive, extremely difficult to build and implement eCommerce infrastructure.”
No wonder Shopify is steadily gaining in popularity.
The company owns 28% of the e-Commerce platform market share in the US in 2023 and is one of the top 5 e-Commerce platforms in the world.
Correspondingly, Shopify’s stock has grown its value by 150% since 2019 on the New York Stock Exchange, and has risen above that of well-known internet companies like Twitter, Spotify - and even eBay in value.
That is all well. After all, the more opportunities honest sellers get, the better for consumers. But unfortunately, honest businesses are not the only ones gaining a huge opportunity with Shopify’s services, but counterfeiters and grey marketers as well.
Back in the early days of online marketplaces, recognizing counterfeits was not that difficult. A shady-looking website featuring lame pictures and typos, together with unrealistic promises basically screamed “beware! counterfeits!” Like this picture here:
Screenshot of jordanb2c.com, a fake webshop for Air Jordan Sneakers
Observe the over-the-top image with the sparkling stars adorning the model’s arms, and the fact that all sneakers are offered at a discounted price.
That was back in the days when setting up a webshop was actually hard, and the owners of fake shops didn’t bother a lot with compelling design and a believable image. Their main aim was to sell as many products as possible before they were discovered.
Well, the main aim hasn’t changed. But thanks to Shopify, creating a beautiful webshop with compelling design takes just as much time and effort as creating an ugly one.
Screenshot of gabandjohn.com, a fake webshop offering products of many luxury brands like Gucci and Dior
See this shop here? Artfully designed images, legitimate menu buttons, and no glaring red flags in sight to let consumers know they’re dealing with a shop selling counterfeits.
Setting up a compelling, professional webshop on Shopify takes about 30 minutes. The company itself provides a lot of help for its customers.
Screenshot of the different free learning resources offered by Shopify for their customers on Shopify.com
But if that’s not enough for you, there are countless tutorials freely available on YouTube that provide step-by-step guidance for businesses, honest and dishonest alike, on how to set up the perfect webshop.
As we mentioned earlier, Shopify doesn’t stop at simply hosting webshops for its customers. If you decide to set up your webshop on Shopify, you can get a full ride with SEO optimization, social media ads, integration with various payment and delivery options, dropshipping, fulfillment, and a lot more.
Although Shopify does have an IP protection policy, the responsibility of protecting their own and not infringing on anybody else’s IP rights lies with Shopify’s customers. Which means that fake shops can run with all the perks provided by Shopify until somebody notices and reports them.
But how can people notice if a compelling, professional webshop hosted on Shopify is selling fakes? Luckily, online brand protection experts have a few tips for that.
There are a few telltale signs that no design and no marketing can erase. You just have to know where to look for them.
Check out the contact info and social media handles on the shop. If they list one meagre email address and a not-quite-working social media account, you should be wary.
Take the extra step and look at their social media page. How often do they update, how many followers do they have? If the site is very new and has little to no followers or new posts, that could be a red flag.
What kind of prices are offered? Do all products have reduced prices? Compare the prices to other, trusted shops. If everything is offered at a much lower cost, that’s not a good sign.
The price and duration of shipping can be an indicator of the shop’s (or dropshippers’) real location. If a shop claiming to operate out of Italy offers 12-14 days for delivery within Europe, that’s a clue that could indicate that the delivery comes from a country much further away. And if they lied about their location, what else could they be lying about?
Also, check out the shipping costs. Are they offering very low shipping prices? Way lower than market price? Another red flag.
According to the OECD, the majority of counterfeit goods originate from China and Hong Kong, with India, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates closely following. Therefore, if you see that the owner of the webshop lives in China and is offering products of a western brand to western customers, keep your eyes open for other signs to indicate that you’re dealing with a fake shop.
Similarly to social media accounts, reviews are also telltale signs of a dishonest shop selling counterfeits and grey market products. If there are only a handful of reviews offering either very bad or unbelievably good feedback, that could definitely indicate a fake shop.
As mentioned earlier, Shopify encourages people to send notifications if they come across a shop infringing on somebody else’s IP rights.
globaleyez does exactly that. On behalf of our clients, we monitor marketplaces, including webshops hosted by Shopify, looking for IP infringements. When we find them, we enforce our clients’ rights and demand takedown of infringing listings.
Screenshot of an email from Shopify to globaleyez, in which the company informs us that our takedown request has been successfully implemented
"We work closely with Shopify and are very successful in removing infringing content from the platform."
To the untrained eye, fake webshops and products are getting increasingly hard to recognize. Shopify’s excellent services for the creation, promotion and maintenance of compelling webshops make this situation even harder.
This is why online brand protection is more important than ever. globaleyez’s flexible and comprehensive services can be tailored to any brand’s exact needs, ensuring that no fakester can harm your brand without detection, whether via Shopify of other means.