Worldwide retail e-commerce sales are expected to double from 2019 levels of $3.5 trillion USD to $6.5 trillion by 2023 (Winkler, 2020). Retail sales data sources have estimated that approximately 34% of global e-commerce was conducted using mobile devices during sales year 2017. With 57% of consumers preferring online shopping, mobile commerce (m-commerce) is set for remarkable growth(brizfeel.com, 2018). While the majority of retail online transactions are still the result of using a desktop PC, the increasing use of mobile devices in e-commerce is undeniable. These remarkable trends for online shopping behavior should be considered by brand protection professionals as they navigate the new challenges ahead for protecting their brands online.
THERE ARE SOME INHERENT CHALLENGES FOR BRAND PROTECTION PROFESSIONALS REGARDING M-COMMERCE
The rapidly expanding global e-commerce landscape, in part fueled by growing m-commerce transactions, nearly renders obsolete those traditional, manual review efforts for online intellectual property risks. With thousands of online marketplace platforms worldwide, let alone global websites and social media platforms, the task of effectively monitoring those e-commerce entities for intellectual property infringement requires brand protection professionals to utilize the latest technology to gather and analyze relevant IP threat information. M-commerce is simply adding to that existing challenge.
Multichannel shopping behaviors by consumers will continue to challenge brand protection professionals. According to Wolfgang digital.com’s KPI 2019 Report, the disparity between total completed transactions via mobile commerce versus overall traffic for browsing remains [32% to 53%]. This behavior makes it vital that anticounterfeiting efforts be directed at both the information sources (e.g. social media) and the final e-commerce destination.
Mobile e-commerce is providing an increasingly fast and efficient buying method for consumers. However, this transaction velocity can come at the expense of the consumer in terms of their scrutiny of their purchase. The compressed timeline of the transaction can serve to minimize some of the more basic precautions a buyer can make when making an online purchase, such as the close examination of seller feedback and ratings. Failure to examine this data, when available, can allow consumers to miss certain signs of problematic sellers. “Feedback padding” is a scheme sometimes used by sellers to enhance their feedback ratings by transacting in large quantities of fast-moving consumer goods, that are likely to generate positive feedback, before moving to higher dollar merchandise that may be questionable in authenticity (See A-CAPP Glossary).
IT’S NOT ALL BAD NEWS, AS THE GROWING M-COMMERCE SEGMENT CAN PRESENT SOME ADVANTAGES TO THE BRAND PROTECTION PROFESSIONAL
The first and foremost advantage presented by the increasing use of mobile devices in e-commerce is simply in the overall expansion of sales. In many surveys nearly one third of consumers indicated they preferred online shopping because of the ability to shop “24/7” (Bedgood, 2019). Mobile devices allow a consumer to carry that capability with them virtually anywhere, anytime. This round-the-clock shopping is a positive trend that is expected to grow.
The increasing use of mobile devices in e-commerce, including for pre-transaction activities such as browsing, presents an opportunity for brand protection professionals to engage consumers with anticounterfeiting efforts. Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with using mobile devices for shopping and those same devices can be leveraged for use in product authentication and supply chain security efforts.
Sir Francis Bacon was the first person associated to the phrase “knowledge is power”. In the increasingly multichannel buying behavior of today’s consumer, the m-commerce environment, can be leveraged by the brand to provide those consumers quality information to improve their transactions. The information provided by the brand owner via social media or brand apps can enhance the consumers’ chances of avoiding an illicit product purchase. That informational presence by the brand can also facilitate consumer reporting of suspected infringements, again made even easier through mobile devices.
The upward trend of increased mobile device usage in e-commerce activity is expected to continue. While m-commerce presents some distinct challenges to the brand protection professional, the presence of those mobile devices in e-commerce also presents some unique opportunities for brand protection professionals to mitigate all types of IP infringements, across both the online and offline environment.
Michael LeMieux retired from the FBI as a Supervisory Special Agent at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, where he managed FBI investigations involving theft of trade secrets, counterfeit goods, and copyright/trademark infringement. During his law enforcement career, he also specialized in complex investigations involving financial crimes, corruption, and antitrust, and he also served as a supervisory instructor at the FBI Academy.
THE BRAND PROTECTION PROFESSIONAL | MARCH 2020 | VOLUME 5 NUMBER 1
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