Citing concerns over counterfeiting and unauthorized selling, Birkenstock USA has informed Amazon that as of Jan. 1, 2017, it will no longer offer its footwear on the e-commerce site or its third-party Marketplace, CNBC reports.
In a July 5 letter obtained by CNBC, Birkenstock USA CEO David Kahan said that the only way to avoid competing with fake or stolen merchandise promoted as genuine Birkenstock products is to sell directly to Amazon, but that “We believe this decision does not align with the long-term health of our brand or your business objectives.”
Amazon hasn’t commented on the report. In a section of its website devoted to the topic of counterfeit sales, the company says “We take product authenticity very seriously.”
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, U.S. auction site and marketplace eBay and even artisan marketplace Etsy have battled counterfeit sales in recent years, but Amazon has largely escaped the fray. But while counterfeits, low-quality knockoffs and other questionable (or questionably sourced) goods have always been for sale on Amazon’s Marketplace, the problem has exploded as more Chinese sellers have joined the site.
In his letter to Amazon, Kahan said that the company is aware that shoes and sandals labeled “Birkenstock” would likely be found on Amazon after the company stops selling there but that Birkenstock USA would be informing consumers that those products are likely fakes or otherwise unauthorized. He added that his company has attempted to work with Amazon to guarantee that only legitimate products are sold, but said Birkenstock USA hasn’t figured out any way to ensure that its products are the only ones sold on the Amazon site.
"The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an 'open market,' creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand. Policing this activity internally and in partnership with Amazon.com has proven impossible," Kahan wrote. "So, buyer beware."
CNBC detailed the growing problem of counterfeit merchandise on Amazon earlier this month, noting that many knockoffs are found in warehouses alongside genuine articles sold via the e-retailer’s Fulfillment by Amazon shipping and packing program. The problem is rife for smaller merchants and artisans as well as for larger brands, the report noted.
Amazon policies maintain that sellers are responsible for the authenticity of their goods and could face delisting if they’re found to offer fakes. “Customers trust that they can always buy with confidence on Amazon.com,” the policy reads. “Products offered for sale on Amazon.com must be authentic. The sale of counterfeit products, including any products that have been illegally replicated, reproduced, or manufactured, is strictly prohibited.”