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How to regain control of your brand on Amazon from rogue sellers

Like it or not, your products will inevitably be listed on Amazon. When an unauthorized seller lists your products, it controls your brand’s online representation, which poses a significant threat to your brand.

Poor or inaccurate representation by rogue sellers on Amazon will harm your brand image across physical and digital marketplaces, undermining customer trust and cutting into your profits.

You can neutralize the risks unauthorized sellers present by understanding how they work.

Rogue sellers take advantage of two areas: Indiscriminate distribution and brand passivity on marketplaces. If you want to recover or preserve your brand integrity in online marketplaces, defend both arenas by following these three steps for how to regain control of your brand on Amazon.

Step 1: Know and control your distributors

Your first step is to understand how unauthorized sellers are getting your products and then to cut them off at the source.

To start, formally request that your distributors provide your product only to your authorized sellers. Most distributors should be willing to comply, and you can move away from distributors who do not. Controlling your distribution chain is crucial for maintaining brand control on online marketplaces.

In 2017, a well-known skin care brand collaborated with us at etailz to take action against rogue sellers. One seller in particular was undercutting the price of authorized sellers, harming the company’s relationship with its approved online and brick and mortar retailers.

Using Perispect, a brand watch and price monitoring software, the brand identified from where the rogue seller was receiving inventory, and then cut off their supply, resulting in greater control over its Amazon channel.

This contributed to a 54 percent increase in YOY sales, improved marketing efforts, and fostered better relationships with authorized sellers.

For brands without brand watch software, Amazon provides a method to manually monitor who is selling your products, enabling you to identify unauthorized sellers.

It’s a worthwhile process, but could become too time-consuming and impractical as you scale.

Utilizing brand watch software allows you to automate the task so that the check runs day and night, notifying you immediately when a seller violates your pricing policy. It’s a great time saver and provides you the evidence you need to take definitive actions.

Collaborating with your distributors may not completely eliminate unauthorized sellers. Retail arbitrage, or the practice of buying discounted products and reselling them online for a marked up price, is often performed by individuals rather than traditional businesses.

For example, Joe in his basement can buy your products on sale at the local strip mall, then sell them on Amazon or eBay at a lower price than your authorized sellers.

Step 2: Proactively manage your Amazon channel

Controlling your distribution chain limits the number of unauthorized and rogue sellers, but without being active on Amazon yourself, it’s a relatively passive approach to protecting your brand. If you want to take back control of your online representation, the most effective option is to actively take your products to Amazon yourself.

By doing so, you put yourself at the helm of how your brand is represented on marketplaces. Whether you represent yourself, partner with an experienced third party retailer, or collaborate with a channel management agency, retain the reigns and direct your course.

While your third-party retailer or channel manager will provide you with expert advice and strategies, you have the final say on your listing content, marketing strategy and ultimately, your brand message.

As I stated in a previous ClickZ article, regardless of the method you choose to run your Amazon channel, enrolling in Amazon’s Brand Registry program is an excellent way to proactively protect your brand against suspected IPR infringements.

Amazon reports that it “investigates and takes action on more than 95 percent of all notices of potential infringement received from brands in Brand Registry within eight hours,” and that, “On average, enrolled brands are finding and reporting 99 percent fewer suspected infringements than before Brand Registry’s launch.”

Step 3: Once you’re on Amazon, represent your brand well

Once you’ve wrestled that control back from unauthorized sellers, finish the job and ensure that you’re presenting your brand well.

Draw shoppers into your listings with visually appealing images and use the bullet points and product description to highlight differentiating product features. Shoppers want to understand the product before they buy it, so give them all the information they need up front, bringing them ever closer to clicking “Add to Cart.”

Your brand’s offline and online representations are inextricably linked, and each impacts how customers perceive your product, how marketable your products are, your brand integrity and more. To ensure your brand image starts or remains strong, take an active role in shaping its presence in online marketplaces.

Josh Neblett is co-founder and CEO of etailz, Inc.

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