Amazon is arguably the best place to sell if you’re in e-commerce, but things can get pretty wild if you aren’t covering all your bases.They don’t call it “Amazon” for nothing. In my 10 years of business, the Amazon game has never been the same two years in a row.
Just when you think you’ve CRUSHED your competition and won the buy box, think again. Your best-seller products and skyrocketing sales can also be a green flag for Amazon listing hijackers to go after you and take you down.
2016 was part of the wild-west Amazon seller era, so now now Amazon has made moves to reign it in. Thanks to Amazon Sponsored Products Ads, you now have to “pay-to-play” to get impressions and (hopefully) conversions. But this hasn’t changed the fact that you can still be a target of these counterfeiters. Here’s how to deal with them.
Always Be On Guard
Whether you’re in the “Amazon” rainforest or selling in the largest marketplace on earth, you have to be aware of what goes on around you. Be mindful of your surroundings. Counterfeiters are like predators - lurking somewhere, spying on your product and ready to attack once the opportunity presents itself.
Search for any copycats and counterfeiters on a regular basis. You can do this yourself (which is probably best to start out with), but you can also have someone on staff hunt for them. For all you know, hijackers could be right under your nose. The sooner you know they exist, the less damage they can do to your brand. You may not need to check your listings on a daily basis but if you notice any drastic changes in your product’s performance, then something’s up.
Once you’ve spotted the hijackers, it’s time to take action. This may sound easy, but it’s crucial you do it right. Dealing with dubious sellers can get pretty ugly, since they’ll get on the defensive immediately, but let them know you’re not the right person to mess with.
There are a few things you can do to get in touch;
- Contact them through their seller’s profile
- Send them a nice “love letter” in the mail with the help of your lawyer. Issue a Cease and Desist order to take down their listings right away.
- The worst case scenario is that they don’t act on it. If they do this, you can file a formal complaint through Amazon.com and gather more evidence to support your claim.
I take the love letter approach. That way, I’m sending a clear signal that I’m not playing games and want their hijacked listings to stop right now. Procedures like this might cost you more, but it’s definitely worth it.
Be proactive and avoid these issues by trademarking your brand.
Trademark and Invest in your Brand
If you want to avoid the mess of dealing with listings hijackers, your best precaution is to trademark your brand. It is unbelievable how many private labelers have taken this for granted--and that has to stop. Simply put, Amazon is not going to act on your product’s copycats if you don’t own the rights to your brand to begin with. Take some time and register your brand with Amazon in a few steps.
After all, branding is not all about the rights and the legal side of it. It is also what sets you apart from the others. While e-commerce stores can enjoy sales from one-time, impulse buyers, it’s the returning, loyal customers that will provide stability in the long run. More than this, positive feedback and recommendations will help consumers remember your brand even more. It’s best to use this to your advantage.
Once you registered your brand with Amazon, you can start by showing off that logo in your product’s photos. Personalize your packaging with your registered brand. This will not only help in deterring those counterfeiters, customers will also be familiar with the differences between knock-offs and your originals.
Keep an eye on all fronts
On Amazon, you’ll never be done protecting your brand. No matter what you do, you need to keep an eye on all fronts to guard your brand. As time goes by, competition in popular industries will be merciless, cutthroat and ruthless. Other products may steal the buybox from you at any time. Even Amazon itself could shut you down. Nevertheless, don’t lose hope as this does not mean that your products have lost viability.
For us here at Skubana (now Extensiv Order Manager), heavy competition is a sign of success. However, if you sit on your laurels, especially on Amazon, soon enough a new seller can change the flow of your business. Overall, it’s best that we should all learn from this - to become better private labelers and sellers.
Finally, never forget that Amazon is a sales channel, not a business. And because it is a channel, you should be exploring other avenues. Expose your competitive product on other sales channels with less competition and test if your profitability there. Who knows what your business is capable of?