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27 Nov 23

How to Vet Suppliers to Avoid Buying and Reselling Fakes

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Last Updated on: 15th December 2023, 06:05 pm

How to Vet Suppliers to Avoid Buying and Reselling Fakes

Selling counterfeit goods can get you in big trouble. As an online seller, it’s your responsibility to make sure the products you buy and resell are 100% authentic. But how do you know if a supplier is trustworthy? Here’s my advice on vetting suppliers to avoid accidentally buying and reselling fakes.

Do Your Research

Before reaching out to any new supplier, do some digging on them first. Search for the company name plus words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” Look them up on the Better Business Bureau. Visit website review sites like TrustPilot. Read through forums and Facebook groups in your industry. If you see a lot of negative reviews mentioning counterfeits, that’s a big red flag.

Also look up the company on business data sites like Bloomberg or Hoovers. Do they seem well-established? How long have they been around? Be wary of any supplier that seems brand new or doesn’t have much of an online presence.

Ask For References

A reputable supplier should be happy to provide references from other clients. Reach out to those references and ask about their experience. Did they receive authentic products? Was the quality as expected? How quick was shipping and customer service response times? The references can give you insight into what it’s like working with that company.

Review Their Website Carefully

A professional and well-designed website is a good sign. Look for contact info, an About page, clear business address, etc. Fake suppliers often have sloppy sites filled with stolen product photos. Also look for signs they sell authentic brands. Do they use official logos and images? Do they mention being an “authorized reseller” or partner of any big brands?

Ask For Proof of Authenticity

Legit suppliers should provide documentation proving the products are real, like invoices from the brand manufacturer or distributor. Certificates of authenticity, lab testing reports, receipts, and customs declarations can also verify legitimacy.

Some extra proofs to ask for with common counterfeited items:

  • Designer clothes/bags – Receipt from authorized retailer, serial number inside that can be looked up
  • Shoes – Receipt from authorized retailer, serial number inside that can be looked up
  • Cosmetics – Batch code that can be verified on brand website
  • Electronics – Serial number, IMEI, etc. that can be verified on brand website
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Inspect Product Photos Closely

Suppliers should send you detailed photos of the actual products they will ship, not generic stock images. Look for blurry logos, misspellings, or other signs of being fake. Google image search the photos too – if they show up on shady sites, that’s not a good sign.

Ask About Their Supply Chain

How and where does the supplier get their inventory? Do they work directly with brands or buy from authorized distributors? Suppliers being vague about their sources could indicate they sell fakes. Reputable suppliers should be transparent.

Review Return and Refund Policies

If you do accidentally receive fakes, you need to be able to return them for a full refund. Make sure the supplier guarantees authenticity and has clear return policies allowing you to send back counterfeit goods for a refund.

Start Small

When first ordering from a new supplier, start with a small test order. This allows you to vet out the supplier with lower risk. Inspect products closely when they arrive. If everything looks good, you can start placing larger orders.

Trust Your Gut

If a supplier seems sketchy or “too good to be true,” it probably is. Even if you can’t find concrete evidence they sell fakes, trust your instincts. Dealing with dishonest suppliers is not worth the risks.

Know Your Rights and Liabilities

As a reseller, you can be held legally liable for selling counterfeit goods – even if you didn’t know! Get familiar with laws like the Lanham Act. Consult a lawyer about your liability and options if you do unknowingly receive fakes. It’s better to be informed.

Vetting suppliers thoroughly takes some extra work. But avoiding counterfeits protects your business’ reputation and keeps you on the right side of the law. Do your due diligence so you only stock authentic products.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

-Sarah

References:

Seller Beware: The Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying and Reselling Counterfeit Goods

A Guide to Avoiding Counterfeit Goods

Retailers Can Be Liable for Selling Counterfeit Goods Unknowingly

How Retailers Vet Suppliers to Avoid Counterfeits

Amazon’s Counterfeit Problem and How Sellers Can Avoid It