Part One of this series breaks down who unauthorized sellers on Amazon are and the threats they pose. Now we’ll look at how you can monitor this menace––and fight back.
How Can You Police Unauthorized Sellers?
Not all Amazon unauthorized sellers are, of course, bad actors who knowingly seek to eat into your sales and harm your brand. Sometimes they are your own distributors who just don’t realize that they’re in violation of your agreement or wishes. Once you make them aware, these sellers will usually stop. Unfortunately, there are no shortage of unauthorized sellers who are completely aware of—and comfortable with—the fact that they are operating in bad faith. These sellers usually won’t care one bit about your brand’s policies and will take steps to hide from you. Staying one step ahead of shady sellers requires constant vigilance. Here are some of their favorite dirty tricks to watch out for:
- Phony seller names that change frequently. Sellers can change their names daily––that’s right, daily! The ones who really want to hide from you take full advantage of this ability, making them much harder to track.
- Launching new seller accounts after you catch them. Sometimes big offenders will simply close down one account and open another. Others will manage multiple fraudulent accounts so when one is found and closed, business doesn’t need to stop. Staying on top of this can feel like a game of whack-a-mole.
- Creating fake or new ASINs for your products. Some sellers will go so far as to create a new ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) for your products. Since you don’t see them, these phony ASINs are particularly challenging to track.
How Can You Stop Unauthorized Sellers?
Though it can feel overwhelming to continually police for unauthorized sellers, there are concrete steps you can take to protect yourself. First, ensure that your wholesale dealer agreement addresses unauthorized selling and inappropriate product pricing on Amazon. With this agreement in place, you can at least begin enforcing your policies with your wholesalers and distributors. Second, protect your brand’s intellectual property and secure Brand Registry with Amazon. Assuming your brand has filed for a trademark and/or patent for your products with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can submit for Brand Registry on Seller Central. The program is intended to help protect registered trademarks on Amazon, and it also gives brands enhanced marketing features and complete control over their brand’s Amazon presence. Enrollment is a straightforward, one-time process done via Seller Central. Third, place test buys to identify unresponsive and unscrupulous sellers. If these test buys result in no product delivered, or in counterfeit or expired products, you can file a claim with Amazon to remove them. Test buys are also a great method for identifying rogue distributors and other unauthorized sellers. Finally, ask your legal counsel to create a “cease and desist” letter that you can email––or, for potentially greater impact, send via registered snail mail––to any sellers who are in violation of your intellectual property, copyright, or distribution and MAP policies. If it feels like continually monitoring your products for unauthorized sellers and fake ASINS is a daunting task, that’s because it is. Finding the right partner to take over with the process can lift a heavy weight off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on the many other important tasks that go into building and maintaining a consumer brand. If you’re interested in learning how Amify can help, let’s talk.