After conducting raids in China and Dubai that turned up more than 55,000 boxes of counterfeit parts made for its products, Xerox this year became one of a growing group of IT vendors to rev up its anti-counterfeiting efforts.
And the scary part, according to Xerox, is that those 55,000 boxes, which were slated for distribution in the U.S., Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and South America, are just a drop in the bucket, given the size, and continued growth, of the counterfeit market within the printing and imaging industry.
"Globally, the size of the counterfeit market is reported to be between $3.5 billion and $4 billion. And that's just within our industry sector," said Kevin Weaver, vice president of Brand Protection at Xerox, citing research from The Imaging Supplies Coalition. "And do we expect it to increase? Yes, we do."
To help curb that growth, Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox in May introduced the Genuine Xerox Rewards program, which rewards customers for validating the authenticity of their Xerox products online.
"It's not unlike a frequent flier program, where you sign up and every time you fly you get points equivalent to the number of miles you have flown," explained Christian Redder, marketing manager at Xerox. "If you get a Xerox printer, you register the printer -- which means you effectively sign up for the program -- and we start you out with 1,000 points."
Redder said customers get additional points for each Xerox supply item -- such as printer toner, for example -- that they register using the serial number on that product's security label. Xerox can then take that number, and confirm that the part is a legitimate Xerox product. When customers reach a certain number of points, they can redeem them for Xerox products or other rewards.
According to Redder, the program was built with Xerox partners in mind, just as much as it was for Xerox customers.
"The Genuine Xerox Rewards program is an end customer program with decided reseller benefits," Redder said. "The last thing a reseller wants is to have a customer dissatisfied with the quality of performance of that which they have sold."
Xerox's Weaver said the Genuine Xerox Rewards program seemed more necessary than ever, given the increasing sophistication of counterfeiters. An especially low price point, for example, used to be a sure sign of a counterfeit product, Weaver said -- but that's no longer the case.
"These counterfeiters are pretty savvy guys, unfortunately," Weaver told CRN. "They can con the customer into picking their products over the OEM's, and they realize if they take their price too low, the customer will get suspicious."
Xerox will soon roll out a mobile app for the Genuine Xerox Rewards program, allowing customers to scan the security labels on Xerox products with their smartphones.
PUBLISHED NOV. 11, 2013