As a team of E-commerce 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!
Here’s how our team of Amazon experts helped a brand overcome one such challenge:
One of our clients had a major issue, 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 the 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.
- 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 the 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 the 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, images along with other benefits.
- Apply to be part of Project Zero: Brands suffering from counterfeits can apply for ‘Project Zero’, an Amazon initiative to protect brands from counterfeiting.
- 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 the hijacking of your sales.
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.