Do you feel truly confident that your listing is secure on Amazon from unauthorized sellers of your product?
Amazon is a fantastic marketplace for sellers to move product. So fantastic, in fact, that competition is tightening between merchants, and sellers are becoming increasingly ruthless.
If you’ve been in the game long enough, chances are you’ve found yourself fighting off unauthorized sellers trying to sell knock-off version of your well-crafted product.
Unfortunately, there’s no single foolproof solution to stop this from happening. But, you’re not powerless. There are measures you can take to prevent this — and ways to combat it if it’s already happened.
So, fear not. We’ve got your back. This article will show you a proven 5-step formula to protect your listing from false resellers — and 4 steps you can take if you’ve already been hijacked.
What Is “Hijacking”?
The term “hijacking” refers to someone else selling a counterfeit or highly similar version of your private label product. If your product isn’t registered with Amazon, anyone can make edits to the listing. That also means you have to compete for the Buy Box with competitors ripping of YOUR idea!
If you’re not familiar with this feature already, the Buy Box is a call to action (a “CTA”) that encourages shoppers to purchase your item directly on your product page. Amazon automatically grants the Buy Box to the listing that it determines to be the original (official), or best fit, merchant of that product.
If a customer clicks “Add to Cart”, the Buy Box-owner will get the sale. This won’t happen if the customer specifically chooses to purchase from a different seller, but that’s rare. Owning the Buy Box is a huge factor when it comes to generating strong revenue.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re selling flower-pots under your personal brand Pete’s Pots. You’ve got the Buy Box as the original manufacturer of this private label product, and your listing generates strong sales.
But lo and behold, one day you check your listing and suddenly: The Buy Box is gone! You do some research and find that Pat’s Pots is selling your branded pots! Ouch.
You’ve just been hijacked. Everyone who’s been there knows how frustrating this can be.
Here’s An Example of What It Can Look Like:
MOCREO sells a Bluetooth selfie stick under its own brand. Yet, we can see there are 3 other sellers for this product.
Now, let’s see what you can do to protect yourself from Amazon hijackers.
How to Protect Your Listing From Hijackers
Again, there’s no magic bullet that gives you full hijacker-protection. But there are ways to deter them. First and foremost, don’t snooze. If you don’t keep a close eye on your listing, the risk of someone taking advantage of this increases.
If you’re willing to invest some time in battling hijackers, here’s what you can do:
1. Document Everything
The best offense is a good defense. Start by taking screenshots of your Amazon listing page — every product listing you have. You may not have to submit this data to Amazon if you get your listing hijacked, but it helps to have it documented just in case.
Also document the browse node you get when you upload your flat file to Amazon. A browse node is a numerical ID Amazon uses to organize its items for sale.
Each node represents a collection of items for sale, such as “selfie sticks”, not the items themselves. Browse node IDs are numbers that identify product collections. An example for books looks like this: Literature & Fiction: (17), Medicine: (13996), Mystery & Thrillers: (18).
Not sure where to find your browse node? Go to: http://www.findbrowsenodes.com. Type in your category, ASIN or Amazon URL and it will find your browse node for you.
The browse node also makes it easier for Amazon to restore your listing, if that’s ever needed.
2. Build Your Brand Website
Now you want to start building your brand. While you may think it’s too early to have a brand website, it helps Amazon understand that you are indeed the owner of your brand. It also lets you register your brand with Amazon (see point below).
In addition to this, it’s a good idea to create a page on your website that lists your products, with their specific SKUs. Basically copy-paste your Amazon-listing onto your website. Again: Additional evidence to help strengthen the fact that you are the brand behind your product.
Or if websites really are not your thing, you can get someone to do it on Fiverr for under $100.
3. Trademark Your Brand
Amazon recommends that you get a trademark for your brand. This isn’t necessary, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. It also makes it easier to register your brand with Amazon.
Here’s a quick guide on how to get your brand trademarked:
- Search Knowem (knowem.com) to see whether your brand domain name is available.
- If the name and domain seem to be available, check the US Trademark and Patent Office search tool to ensure the name is available, and that there isn’t a trademark that’s too similar.
- Search your brand name on Amazon and ensure no one is already using it there (possible if they haven’t registered a business).
- Register your brand.
4. Register Your Brand
Brand registry, available for all private sellers, makes it smoother for to manage and list your brand-products. It won’t give you 100% protection from unauthorized sellers. But it does give your listing protection from people editing it. It’s a quick fix often worth doing.
To complete an application for brand registry, you’ll need to provide:
- An image of your product packaging with your brand name visible on the packaging.
- An image of a product with your branding visible on the product itself.
- Link to your brand’s website that displays your brand and products. Include an image of the brand registry page.
To fill out an application, go to brand registry here.
Note: Brand registry requires your brand to have a homepage. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A WordPress-site can be set up in a matter of hours, even if you’re not a web-developer superstar. Go for it.
5. Stand Out Among the Competition
Hijackers are far less inclined to steal your brand if you have a unique product. A product that you’ve put a lot of work into creating and customizing. One great way of doing this is by emphasizing branding in your product photos. Make sure your logo is clearly visible here.
Next, you should consider bundling your product. If you sell a garlic press, why not bundle it with a velvet garlic clove pouch?
By having two distinct items together, from different factories, you put up a big barrier to hijacking. Why? Because, frankly, it’s just much more of a hassle to organize the logistics.
It’s also a wise to put some effort into packaging. If you set up packaging that is tailored to your product — and display this on your listing — you’re already deterring hijackers.
Help! I’ve already been hijacked! What do I do?
This can be tough. And while you won’t win every battle, there are steps you can take to fight hijackers. Here are some tactics to try:
1. Lower Your Price
This can help you get your Buy Box back. Obviously, your competition can do the same. Use with caution so you don’t end up in a pricing war trying to undercut the competition and end up losing too much profit yourself.
2. Contact the Seller
Oftentimes, a sternly worded letter can do the trick. To contact the seller, simply click on the seller profile and click “Ask a question.“
Here’s a template you can work from:
“Dear [HIJACKER NAME],
I am the owner of [YOUR BRAND]. It has come to my attention you are selling [THE SAME BRAND]. I request that you to remove your listing right away.
[YOUR BRAND] is something I have created from scratch, and I have no authorized resellers. I sell branded products, and if you are indeed selling counterfeits, then you are in violation of Amazon’s terms of service.
I will file a Cease and Desist letter if the listing is not removed within 48 hours, and you will face legal action if you do not comply.
3. Buy Their Product
Get to know your competition and make a test-purchase. To be specific, get your friend (not a relative) to make a test-purchase so it doesn’t look like it’s coming from you.
Do this to verify the product is indeed counterfeit. Once you order a sample, document everything about it. Color, size, weight, packaging, etc. Make note of how it differs from, or is similar to, your product. Then, if you don’t feel like keeping it, you can return it.
4. Contact Amazon
If a letter doesn’t do the trick — which it often does — you can resort to contacting Amazon. If you’ve documented your listing, you’re off to a better start.
Assuming you’ve made your test-purchase, here’s what you do:
- Wait for the item has been shipped and received.
- Have your friend complain to the seller that the item is fake through Amazon where you “Report a Problem”. Choose the option about the product “not being materially the same”.
- Wait a day and then file an A to Z request against the counterfeit seller.
- Make sure you the use the terms “fake”, “not authentic” or “counterfeit” in your claim.
- If all goes well, Amazon will take down their listing within a few days.
Be mindful to provide as much information as you can here. This includes:
- How the hijacker’s product is different from what you sell (in terms of color, weight, dimensions, etc.)
- Any complaints you’ve received from customers relating to a counterfeit product
- Any communications with the hijacker
- Evidence of your trademark or brand registration
- Photographic evidence of the counterfeit product, with an emphasis on how it might let down potential customers
Amazon is all about top-notch customer service. If you can demonstrate that the counterfeit product is likely to disappoint any buyer, you’ve made your case.
The Bottom Line — Preventative Measures Are A Solid Investment.
Amazon wants its customers to be happy. Ensure you have the better product, and Amazon will make you the authorized seller. You do risk hijacking by selling on Amazon, but it’s most often not a big deal.
If you take the precautions mentioned above — and put a solid effort into building your brand — you should deter most unauthorized resellers. As a serious FBA-business, you will out-sell anyone looking to piggyback off your listing in the long run.
Let us know your experience with hijackers! We’re here to help.