Amazon: The Next Big Thing
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Amazon: The Next Big Thing

It’s often the most unlikely ideas that bring about great change. Amazon, for example, is planning to sell its own serial numbers to manufacturers. This is something that only Amazon can get away with, however.

One year ago, many heard about Amazon’s “1 Click” patent for the first time. It reduced the purchasing process in online shops to one click, and was exclusively for Amazon and carefully selected rival companies. Now, Amazon is back with a new innovation called Project Zero which might be genius – or dangerous.

Many companies have been pleading with Amazon for years now to take action against counterfeit products. Manufacturers have sometimes even terminated their partnership with Amazon for that very reason, like Birkenstock did in 2017.

Amazon Project Zero

What did Amazon do to combat these developments? It launched a new business concept called Project Zero. There is very little information about it, other than that it is an invite-only program and it’s only available in the United States right now.

It revolves around the serial number that Amazon assigns manufacturers, which they can then use for their products. Once the products arrive at Amazon’s warehouse, employees scan the serial numbers and can therefore easily recognize counterfeit products.

Additionally, participating manufacturers can also delete offers if providers do not authenticate them. Manufacturers can furthermore help improve Amazon’s own security system by providing their own brand, logo, and more information in the course of Project Zero.

In brief, Amazon went and forced the market to adapt to a new security system. Few companies could do the same. However, it is beneficial for manufacturers and customers alike. Costs of 0.01 to 0.05 dollars per serial number for higher-quality products is not too excessive.

On the one hand, maybe this could even lead to more B2B companies offering their products on Amazon. B2B products have historically been one of the most afflicted by counterfeit products, and Project Zero could change the way B2B companies do business online.

Other potential markets could focus on the food chain (maybe even with sensors), medical machines, and high-quality spare parts.

Too much transparency?

On the other hand, many companies are already uncomfortable with the level of transparency that Amazon demands. If a product is doing well and selling successfully, there is always the risk of soon finding a similar product under Amazon’s Basics.

Even customers are more transparent than ever. Purchased goods can be tracked down more efficiently and precisely. And where do the goods end up?

What still remains a mystery, however, is how Project Zero will affect detective stories on TV. If there is packaging carelessly discarded, the leading investigator would just have to call Amazon and ask who the buyer was – and the case would be solved before the first commercial break.

E-3 Magazine April 2019 (German)

About the author

Michael Kramer

Michael Kramer is an expert in all things digital transformation, with a lot of experience in the SAP community. Kramer is also a member of the supervisory board of E-3 publisher

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