Why are some products so cheap on eBay and Amazon?
Do you know that if you bought skincare products from online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Walmart, the onus/liability was on you to determine whether the items are counterfeit or not - not Amazon or eBay.
Do you know that products on Amazon can have identical packaging, identical ingredients listed, identical pictures with a huge number of 5 star reviews AND still be counterfeit?
How do we know? We'll let you know below!
In January this year, Amazon announced a new program called ‘Project Zero’ aimed at reducing counterfeit products across its platform.
On the outside, Amazon appears to be taking a firm stance on counterfeit items with the project aiming to “utilize Amazon’s advanced technology, machine learning, and innovation to help drive counterfeits to zero”. Separately however, nearly 40% of paid items on Amazon are from third-party resellers, many of whom are not authorized sellers.
There is little incentive from Amazon to clam down on these errant merchants with them contributing to a significant amount of revenue annually.
Amazon is faced with the same problem that eBay has struggled with for years. Unauthorized third-party sellers impersonating and undercutting popular consumer brands. Customers frequently get hits and misses with varying quality but the overriding joy at buying a ‘similar’ item at a lower price ensures that these issues persist.
Real vs Fake
How would I tell between a real korean skincare product and a fake one? We've opened 30+ various products from brands like Innisfree, Laneige, Skinfood etc. and here's what we found out.
Upon closer inspection, the packaging is usually identical down to the barcodes but upon opening the product, here are some common differences:
- The way the items look underneath the packaging (i.e. masks are folded differently)
- The scents of both products can be dramatically different
- The existence of authenticity tags vs none
- The texture and consistency of the products vary vastly
- Quality of items also differ from shipment to shipment
- Prices of items are significantly cheaper (less than 50%) compared to official stores
But overall we found through our exercise that it was extremely difficult to tell the difference. According to FDA, "Such use of allegedly substandard cosmetic products may result in adverse effects to the skin and other parts of the body." Counterfeit versions are usually made in China and smuggled past border control to both online and offline retailers.
Most of them list on Amazon and eBay at deeply discounted prices, with thousands of fake reviews produced by 'Chinese Online Farmers' at warehouses that host hundreds of computers.
The LilyVanity Promise
Here at LilyVanity we only sell authentic, 100% original products straight from manufacturers in South Korea. We have strict compliance policies to ensure that we do not sell counterfeit or fake products and we frequently travel to Seoul to look for the latest and greatest.
We seek to always provide everyday low prices but commonly struggle with consumers asking us why items on Amazon are way cheaper. Some of the items are sold even cheaper than the wholesale prices we get at our deep discounts with tens of thousands purchased. These items are obviously counterfeit and are sold everywhere from street sellers in New York to online sellers looking to make a quick buck.
What should I do as a customer?
1. Stay away from online marketplaces for everything related to skin, food and consumables - unless they are from the authorized resellers or official stores
2. Only buy from established online brands and stores that are trusted over a few years. Otherwise - just buy offline! Its not worth the risk.
3. Tell a friend or family member about this! Let's put an end to counterfeit products and stop hurting the industry by helping these criminals. If we're only buying the original items they'd no longer have a market to sell them.
4. If you're suspicious about any of these Amazon stores, report them ASAP. While Amazon is not incentivized to proactively shut down these stores, they take your complaints seriously and usually conduct a full audit on the suspected store.