It has become something of a festive tradition in recent years for councils and central government to warn us all of the dangers of online retailers selling toys at prices that seem too good to be true, and this Christmas was no exception.
As good as the crackdown seems, the disclosure of supply chain info is patchy across the toy sector and traceability is constrained by technological limitations.
However, there are solutions available now that can help resolve the issue of incomplete supply chain information and improve traceability throughout a toy’s journey from manufacturer to consumer.
The cutting-edge scannable authentication technology can be used to verify whether a product is genuine or not. Printed on the underside of a toy, it can be scanned by Trading Standards teams or retailers using a mobile phone to reveal key information including provenance, whether it has been certified as meeting safety standards and even whether import duty has been paid.
Using such tools, lawful manufacturers can go a long way towards helping councils and retailers sort genuine products from the fake ones, and remove dangerous counterfeit toys from the supply chain before they reach consumers. This information can also play a role in tracing rogue manufacturers and vendors so they can be shut down, helping to minimise the risk of the problem re-occurring well into the future.
Unless manufacturers and authorities take action now, the cycle will only continue. It is time for manufacturers and authorities to take advantage of innovations in tech to tackle this issue now.
This year, parents desperate to get their children Fingerlings or Hatchimals – the
latest must-have gifts – were warned by local authorities to be wary of turning to suspect online sellers to get hold of toys that are out of stock elsewhere, as they may not be as advertised.
But the fight against counterfeit toys wasn’t limited to warnings to consumers. Councils across the UK took action, seizing thousands of fake toys and other goods entering the country in the run-up to the festive period.
Thurrock council’s Trading Standards team, for example, seized 86 per cent of all products tested – a total of 88,000 items, many of which were toys – and all arrived at ports between July and September. Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, meanwhile, confiscated 2,581 fake Fingerlings toys imported from China through Heathrow Airport, as they lacked the paperwork verifying they met the required safety standards.