As a 1st party or 2nd party seller on Amazon, it pays to understand how the largest open virtual marketplace looks at situations that involve gray market sellers who are neither acknowledged nor authorized to sell by the brand owner. Amazon is lenient in accepting third-party sellers. That means brand owners, authorized resellers, and even customers can be a victim of unauthorized sellers’ shenanigans one way or another. These days, one essential way to do away with such threats is ensuring you get a maximized Amazon Brand Protection.
The mentality of Amazon is customer-centric, i.e. it focuses on its customers far more than on its sellers and the brands. Its ultimate goal is to become the world’s largest e-commerce website known for its variety of product offerings and prices. On that note, Amazon has been very clear in its leniency when it comes to product distribution policies. It is not into enforcing a strict policy and filtering third party resellers from joining the platform unless the reseller is blatantly distributing stolen or counterfeit items. This is because Amazon is trying to welcome a crowded competition as it can push sellers to lower their prices, eventually at attracting more customers to visit the popular e-commerce website.
How you can get Amazon Brand Protection
In order for your brand to be protected on Amazon, your first step should be to monitor who is selling your brand or your products at the least. It can be extremely difficult to distinguish the unauthorized resellers especially with many resellers purposely hiding their identity with the intention to deceive customers. There are also times where the authorized resellers participate in the fraud by diverting product to have an easy-earned money without the brand owners. Hence, in this case, to strengthen your brand protection, you have to be knowledgeable of the ABCs in finding the leaks.
Product diversion is commonly practiced on Amazon by unauthorized and illegal third party sellers but the good news is, there are already operational precautions and available technologies that you can utilize to track and identify each attempt to divert. Some are as follows:
- The construction of clear online reseller policy with a defined anti-diversion clause that resellers and distributors are mandated to comply.
- Policing on a regular basis with a consistent and clear enforcement against policy violators.
- Integrating serial numbers, RF tags, or invisible link on each of your items to distinguish them from the counterfeit, fake, and unauthorized ones. In this case, you will need to invest in an inventory management software that features barcoding and barcode scanning to get the job done efficiently and accurately.
- Identification of product features that have trademark forms and seek legal assistance to enforce the policy against possible trademark violations in the future. Such trademarks should cover warranty terms, handling requirements, and storage requirements.
- Monitoring and investigation of unanticipated rise in sales for certain resellers and distributors. More often than not, this indicates that product diversion is probably ongoing.
A brand may have been successful in curbing or totally cleaning off all unauthorized reselling of its products on Amazon but sooner or later, the same thing will reoccur. That is why Amazon brand protection is a continuous responsibility and every brand is encouraged to implement an active and resilient protection strategy that can withstand against bad threats. This strategy should work whether in selling a product, in advertising the brand, in experimenting with new lines, and in ensuring fair voice share in your industry.
So to better implement Amazon Brand Protection – Here’s the specific things YOU can and must do:
- Ensure that your brand name or logo is always displayed on your item and its packaging. It is the least you can do to make it hard for counterfeiters to copy your product. Once your logo is there, they are also instantly protected by copyright under the laws of the United States. This means additional protection against those who attempt to copy your logo, your name, and your product; more so, if they decide to sell these copies.
- Prioritize FNSKU over UPC. If you are a starter, this is what you should bear in mind: always make sure that your products’ barcodes are using the FNSKU (Amazon’s); not their manufacturers’ barcodes (UPC) for all your product listings. By using the former, you are automatically identified as a seller while UPC is for everyone: 1P, 2P, 3P sellers, and buyers. If you use FNSKU, you are giving the hijackers more headache in counterfeiting your products.
- Utilize the Amazon Seller Central 2-Step Login. This extra layer of security feature of Amazon aims to protect sellers by texting or emailing the users a new security code that they will have to input to successfully get into their Seller Central account. It may be time consuming but these days, almost every renowned website with millions of users are already implementing this measure for user authentication which can significantly prevent fraudulent transactions.
- Utilize Amazon Listing Alerts. This cool feature of Amazon lets brand owners and manufacturers know if a new member of the selling community copies their pictures. If you will be instantly notified, you can easily check what is going on and might even intimidate and draw counterfeiters away.
- Make sure your brand is trademarked. Whether you are still in the process of building your brand on Amazon or you have already made a name in the industry, it is extremely important that you trademark your logo and brand name. It entitles you legal protection under the law. Most importantly, it is what you are required of by Amazon if you wish to take advantage of their brand registry and transparency features.
- Join Amazon Brand Registry and Use Amazon Transparency. Your product trademarks will give your products an access to more protection from Amazon. For instance, it is the ultimate ticket you should present in applying for Amazon’s brand registry. Although the registry does not entirely protect you from counterfeit and dirtbag sellers, it gives you the edge in the eyes of Amazon shoppers knowing you are the official seller of your items. Along with it, you can also get an access to Amazon’s new level of protection against counterfeiters. What transparency does is it issues unique barcodes to authorized brand owners and sellers and these barcodes can authenticate the genuineness of a product.
As a seller, you do not have to be a brand registry member to be qualified for transparency protection. However, as these features are especially made to protect 1st party and 2nd party sellers (the brand owners and the authorized resellers and distributors), Amazon requires trademarks as the ultimate requirement in entertaining applications to prove that the applicants are legit brand owners.
- Use Amazon Project Zero and Brand Gating. Amazon issues unique codes to brand owners for every product they produce or manufacture but in order to ensure that sellers can maintain protection against counterfeit, Amazon also offers its Project Zero feature where sellers can remove their own product listings if counterfeit threats are present. Meanwhile, brand gating makes use of certain ASINs which also aim to stop counterfeiters. Sellers have to register their brand before they get eligible for brand gating.