Amazon is by far the biggest - and busiest - marketplace in the world. Therefore, if you wish to earn a respectable spot and build a solid customer base, learning about listing and brand protection will save you worries, time, and money.
Sellers and shoppers alike choose the retail giant over a sea of competitors because, over the years, the company has toiled hard to win buyers’ trust. Its customer-centric approach makes it convenient for sellers who would rather focus on other important aspects of their business instead of putting all their energy into solving the numerous snags that come with catering to the needs of demanding customers.
Not everything in the garden is rosy, however.
As you may know, Amazon is an open marketplace, which means that anyone can join. Most likely, if your listings start to gain traction, you’ll catch the attention of “Black hat sellers”.
Brands like yours can be at risk of a number of listing threats, such as:
- duplicate listings,
- trademark infringement,
With over 2 million active sellers, it’s impossible for Amazon to take control of your brand.
But fear not! We’ve put together a list of useful tips that can help you protect your brand from unethical sellers seeking to take advantage of your hard-earned success.
- Keyword and Category Restrictions
- Duplicate Listings
- Content Changes
- Brand Protection Challenges
- Actions You Can Take
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Keyword and Category Restrictions
Amazon does not have a specific list of keywords sellers can’t use. However, taking a look at Amazon’s list of restricted products can give you an idea of which tags won’t yield the best results.
Maybe your product is not restricted, but details related to restricted products might get you in trouble. For example, claiming that your product has antimicrobial properties, but not including your compliance with FIFRA, will get your listing deleted.
For some products and categories, sellers may need Amazon’s approval before listing products. The approval process can mean additional fees, performance checks, and other requirements. Make sure to list your products in the right categories. You can check the categories that need approval here.
Requesting an approval is simple:
1. Select Add a Product from the Inventory menu on Seller Central.
2. Search for the product you want to sell.
3. Click the Listing limitations apply link.
4. Click Request Approval.
Note: You may be asked for invoices and/or safety testing paperwork, depending on the product you are trying to add.
Have you ever come across an extra offer on one of your listings? If your answer is “yes”, then, you’ve been a victim of a Listing Hijacking!
The way unethical sellers hijack your listings is by copying the UPC for your product and applying it to theirs. If this happens, these sellers will list a cheaper price and drive you out of the Buy Box to take over your sales. Likely, the quality won’t match yours and you have the risk of an unhappy customer leaving a bad review on your page.
The best and quickest thing to do is lower your price into get back in the Buy Box. Then, you can send a polite Cease and Desist letter and ask the hijacker to remove their listing.
If you don’t get a resolution, you must report it to Amazon.
You can find Amazon’s Anti-Counterfeiting Policy in your Seller Central’s Help files.
Note: Keep in mind that these claims will take effect if the product is fake. If the product is authentic and an exact match to the detail page, it can be sold. Reporting other sellers who are not selling counterfeit can get you in trouble. Therefore, make sure your product has IP so you can defend your listing.
One of the most common reasons why duplicate listings occur has to do with sellers wanting to drive Amazon Sponsored Ads and/or organic traffic to their own listing—without competing over the Buy Box.
Additional offers will show one listing set to be FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) and the other set to be FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon).
If your brand is enrolled in Amazon’s Project Zero, you can remove counterfeit listings without Amazon’s approval. Otherwise you can use the Merge Request form in Seller Support to explain why you want to merge that duplicate listing into your ASIN.
Since this is an urgent matter, you most likely will get a response within a few hours or the next day.
This is how you can identify if there’s a duplicate listing:
1. Log in to Seller Central.
2. Go to Inventory > Manage Inventory.
3. Click Potential Duplicates > Review Duplicate
4. Follow the instructions and review your ASINS.
Amazon gives you the opportunity to use descriptive content and images to make your listing attractive to potential buyers.
Below you’ll find the most important pieces of information you can add to your Product Detail Page:
- A high-definition picture of your product is a crucial selling point. Make sure it’s appealing enough and that all its features are visible to avoid any misinterpretation from the shopper, which could lead to a bad review.
- Your titles must not exceed 200 characters, including spaces, or contain promotional phrases, such as "free shipping", "100% quality guaranteed". Characters for decoration are also prohibited, and you can include product-identifying information, such as "rain boots" or "umbrella". Click here for more Product Title rules (sign-in required).
- Give people sufficient details about your product. Write a compelling description that specifies what pain points your product solves. Include SEO strategies to stand out from the crowd.
- Buyers want to see what others say about your product. Encourage customer feedback!
Brand Protection Challenges
While Amazon provides a range of tools within its Brand Protection Program, as a seller, the best way to protect your brand is to trademark your brand name and logo. Keep in mind that this is mandatory to join Amazon’s Brand Registry Program.
Registering a Trademark
Getting a trademark is a legal process with hurdles of its own. Here is some advice on how to simplify the process:
- An affordable attorney can save you a ton of headaches and money. Online trademark filing services are no guarantee of getting the process done and law firms can be expensive.
- Select the right trademark. A brand that’s too generic is not easy to protect. Be distinctive about what you sell.
- Do your homework. Check for similar brands on the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
- File an “Intent-to-use” or 1(b) trademark application. And use existing goods and services already listed in the USPTO’s Trademark ID Manual if possible.
- Submit commercial specimens that show how the mark is used in relation to goods.
- To preserve your rights, keep track of maintenance and renewal documents.
How to Report an Amazon Listing Abuse
As a part of their brand protection efforts, Amazon has added a Listing Report and Abuse feature. You can report issues related to intellectual property or product change violations.
To fill it out, you just need to state what happened with the seller that violated the policy. Include your listing and request to take your ASIN down.
Minimum Advertised Price
MAP is a policy that brands and manufacturers request from distributors to get a contract to distribute their products. The MAP policy is to state the lowest price the distributor can advertise online. If the distributor sells the product at a price lower than the one agreed, the contract may be terminated.
Your distribution network has a direct impact on MAP policies. Too many distributors can mean more resellers and more competition for the Buy Box.
We highly recommend implementing MAP pricing to help you manage your selling relationships effectively.
Non-Transferable Product Warranties
- Providing a guarantee, especially if your product is on the expensive side, will make buyers more likely to choose your product.
- Your warranty can be used as leverage if your listing is ever hijacked. If counterfeit sellers can’t provide the same warranty, then it would be a lot easier to have Amazon remove their listing.
- Watch out for the claims and details you add to your listings. The details may become a part of your warranty - whether you want them to or not - and you will be liable for them.
- You definitely need to get Amazon’s approval. To do so, you cannot participate in extended service warranties, money-back guarantees or use a third-party guarantee provider.
Actions You Can Take
You can manage your brand protection process by boiling it down to three main topics:
1. Brand Control
Sign up to Amazon’s Brand Registry program to sustain ownership of content in the Amazon catalog. You can gain access to submit and lock down content on Amazon. All you need to do is provide the trademark paperwork.
2. Counterfeit Control
Test Buys are the best way to assess if a branded product is legitimate. Ensure that your clients get the right product and get proof to remove counterfeit listings.
3. Distribution Control
Online reseller policies are a brand’s best friend. A smart policy can allow your brand to take legal action against any reseller violating your trademark rights. Product leaks usually happen because of a lack of attention to business partners.
Listing Alerts For Amazon
Listing Alerts is a monitoring & alerting app that tracks keywords, buy boxes, and prices.
- Track any number of listings using URL or ASIN;
- Track positions of each of your listings for up to 100 keywords;
- See if a selected seller is winning or losing the buy box;
- Compare your price for the product and the current price of the listing;
- Set up email or SMS notifications that will instantly show if you lost the buy box, positions for your keywords, or if the price for the product has been changed.
- [See more]
Listing and Variation Merges
Listing merges can help you improve your organic search results. Most merges are within the bounds of Amazon’s terms of service, but others aren’t. Remember Amazon hijackers?
Merge duplicate listings and keep yours from getting lost:
- Select the Merge Duplicate option in Seller Central’s help menu.
- Answer the questions and choose which ASIN to keep. Select the one with the lowest Best Sellers Rank or a listing that is very unappealing. Find all duplicates.
- If Amazon refuses your request because of Amazon catalog team control, resubmit it using the Amazon controlled ASIN as the one that should be kept.
Variations in Your Listings
The way variations display and rank depend on the category you choose. In a nutshell, Clothing, Accessories and Luggage, Sporting Goods, and Beauty show the parent product with a drop-down menu. All other categories only display the bestselling child variant. You can also describe the variations in the product title.See also about parent-child relationships on Amazon Seller Central (sign-in required).
ASIN variation suspensions are increasing on Amazon. Parent-child problems and wrong spelling are the most common mistakes Amazon sellers make. Therefore, in order to protect your brand, you must make sure that your listing is error-free to prevent your listing from being suspended and to avoid hijackers to take advantage of these slip-ups.
We hope these tips come in handy when choosing the best option to protect your brand. Take advantage of the tools and features Amazon has put in place to keep buyers and sellers happy.
Of course, there’s more to do to reap the benefits of selling on one of the most successful marketplaces in the world, but protecting your listings and brand reputation is a good start. Good luck!
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