Get rid of unauthorized sellers

How to Handle Unauthorized Sellers of Your Products on Amazon?


As a team of eCommerce consultants, we are often asked by brand owners, “How are people allowed to sell my products on Amazon without my permission?”. Well, Amazon focuses on providing consumers an unparalleled buying experience with competitive prices. So, the platform allows the sale of goods as long as they are legally obtained, irrespective of whether it’s from the original seller or an unauthorized one.

But, who is an unauthorized seller?


An unauthorized seller is a third-party retailer with no official relationship with your brand or dealership network, and no right to resell your products to customers on Amazon.

These sellers can damage brand reputation by selling counterfeit products, affect customer perception, and most importantly, steal sales from you!

How do unauthorized sellers impact my brand?

 

  • Lower Margins & Lost Sales: Many times, these unauthorized sellers offer the product at a much lower price than the original seller, in order to get a quick sale. This way, they not only take away a share of the sales pie, but also kill the margins of actual, legitimate sellers.
  • Damage to Brand Reputation: Unauthorized sellers may often sell cheap counterfeits of the original product, with degraded quality and finish. This will ultimately harm the reputation and image of the original brand/manufacturer as customers will start losing faith in the brand
  • Constant Price Wars: With a long-term and continuous price-war between authorized and unauthorized sellers, the customers will further doubt the brand’s legitimacy. Moreover, from the perspective of Amazon’s algorithm, Buy Box may become an even more challenging game to win in such cases.
  • Damage relationship with authorized sellers: The relationship between the brand and its authorized sellers is also affected. If a seller has a price agreement with the brand, and they see listings on Amazon offering lower prices for products, then they will lose trust in the brand. 
Here’s how our team of Amazon experts helped a brand overcome one such challenge:


One of our clients had a major challenge, wherein for every original product listing, there were 0.5 phony product variations and 1.5 duplicate listings. This was not only detrimental to their brand value, but also their sales, with an observed drop of 25% in the Buy Box appearance. We employed a range of data-driven techniques to create a comprehensive list of all the sellers and helped them identify the ones cannibalizing their sales.

 While this was a specific case that we dealt with, unauthorized sellers on the platform operate in a variety of ways:

  • Creating phony listings: This tactic involves the manipulation of Amazon’s policy, which allows the creation of new listings for even slight variations in the product specifications. This avoids detection of the products on Amazon through external price tracking software.
  • Using phony names or multiple seller accounts: These sellers use generic display names instead of official company/establishment names or simply switch to a different seller account, rendering it impossible to track and take them down.
  • Selling counterfeit products: As per the Global Brand Counterfeiting Report, the amount of total counterfeiting worldwide was estimated to reach 1.82 Trillion USD by 2020. Out of this, 25% of the losses come through digital channels. Amazon is no exception in this regard. In fact, in May 2020, Amazon seized and destroyed over 2 million counterfeit products that sellers had sent to their warehouses. Following are two types of counterfeit products that exist in the Amazon system-
    a) Exact counterfeits: Some unauthorized sellers attach to your existing product listings and start selling your products or fake products. They may also create duplicates of your listings.
    b) Variation counterfeits: Some unauthorized sellers start selling fake copies of your products by converting your product designs into their own versions, listing them as variations of your products. 

It is necessary to identify these issue listings and their sellers on Amazon. If your ASINs are few, you can do this manually. However, an automated system to identify the issues is quite useful.

  • Manipulating Amazon’s algorithm: In cases where multiple sellers are offering the same product, Amazon’s pro-buyer policy chooses that seller for the Buy Box who makes a sale and not necessarily the one who is an authorized seller. Unauthorized sellers use repricing software to ensure lower prices and higher buy box percentage. In addition to this, there are also instances where these notorious sellers take control of the product listing and manipulate it to suit their requirements. In cases where the listing is created by a nefarious seller, the original brand owner loses autonomy and is unable to make any further edits to their listing.
The loss of Buy Box is the most devastating to a brand, causing massive loss of revenue. Since Amazon wants to offer customers the most competitive pricing and does not view unauthorized sellers as violators unless there are copyright or intellectual property infringements, it does not get extensively involved in unauthorized seller related matters. And so, it becomes critical for sellers to protect their brand through other measures.

The loss of Buy Box is the most devastating to a brand, causing massive loss of revenue. Since Amazon wants to offer customers the most competitive pricing and does not view unauthorized sellers as violators unless there are copyright or intellectual property infringements, it does not get extensively involved in unauthorized seller related matters. And so, it becomes critical for sellers to protect their brand through other measures.

So how do you protect your brand on Amazon?
  • Register your trademark: As a registered trademark owner, you can gather evidence and report to Amazon about unauthorized sellers using your trademark or brand name illegally and are “likely to cause confusion or to deceive” while selling.
  • Develop an ironclad MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) policy: Enforce a  clear price policy that enables only authorized sellers to receive and implement any type of discounts, while also ensuring that you control the Buy Box for your products.
  • Sign up for Amazon Brand Registry: Registering your brand on Amazon certifies you as the brand owner. It provides greater influence and control over your brand’s product listing, overrides any unauthorized content changes and countermeasures any action carried out using your brand name and images, along with other benefits. 
  • Apply to be a part of Project Zero: Brands suffering from counterfeits can apply for ‘Project Zero’, an Amazon initiative to protect brands from counterfeiting. Amazon has also launched a Counterfeit Crimes Unit to further warrant its stand on this grave issue.
  • Set up an automated brand protection platform: One of the most effective solutions that can help deal with unauthorized sellers on Amazon is to invest in technology-based solutions backed by a team of experts who can help continuously monitor and identify rogue sellers. This would help monitor your brand’s presence across Amazon and prevent hijacking of your sales. 

All in all, with the growing dominance of eCommerce, this problem is bound to increase in future and hence, needs to be handled proactively. You can utilize the aforementioned options to protect your brand credibility and effectively control pricing. You must also be vigilant in continually tracking and identifying unauthorized sellers on Amazon. Since manually doing this may be a cumbersome and time-consuming process, Growisto has developed an AI-based tool to identify potential unauthorized sellers and counterfeit products on Amazon.

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