Amazon is the largest online retailer in North America with nearly 50% of the market share—making the sheer size and reach an attractive marketplace for brands looking to increase their online presence and build brand awareness. Unfortunately, it’s also a platform where unauthorized sellers profit from your brand’s hard work and reputation. This makes brand protection an ever-present issue that needs to be monitored closely to keep your brand integrity intact.
In this blog, we’ll teach you 7 steps and best practices for channel management on Amazon. Including these topics:
- Amazon Brand Protection is a Choice
- Should I Stop Selling on Amazon to Protect My Brand?
- 7 Steps for Amazon Brand Control
- Additional Steps to Protect Your Brand
Amazon Brand Protection is a Choice
Protecting your brand integrity on Amazon translates to the best product, packaging, and brand-intended shopping experiences. From our nearly 10 years of experience, WishingUWell has established best practices that can help your brand keep a clean Amazon sales channel. The tools we are able to share with you can assist in identifying areas of concern and establish procedural actions.
It’s no easy task—brands must take on the bulk of the responsibility—but it’s a choice every brand must make. Take the necessary steps to protect your brand, or let MAP violators and unauthorized sellers erode what you’ve worked so hard to build.
Should I Stop Selling on Amazon to Protect My Brand?
The simplest answer is no.
By walking away and not selling on Amazon, your brand will lose all control. This can damage your on-brand customer experience, product quality, and reputation—not only on the Amazon platform—but across all channels. Your online presence and perception directly influence whether a customer will trust and purchase your product. Don’t lose out on customer loyalty just to avoid the headache.
Remember, whether you choose to sell on Amazon or not, YOUR PRODUCTS WILL BE SOLD REGARDLESS. It’s a harsh reality, but our best practices for brand protection will set you and your brand up for success.
7 Steps for Amazon Brand Control
Here’s how to take on unauthorized 3P sellers, MAP violators, and non-branded content:
- Establish a Plan of Action:
You should have a pre-prepared plan in place for any type of violation.
- For example, if a distributor has an Amazon reseller storefront, but they are not authorized to sell through the Amazon channel, what is the penalty?
- Is there a new agreement that needs to be drafted? One that protects your brand’s Amazon presence? Or gives general authorization for certain sales channels? Think about it.
- Identify Violators:
Identify a list of offending sellers with the most inventory across multiple listings. These are the offenders that clearly have some type of supply chain and potentially need to be cut-off at the source. Focus on these main violators to start this process.
- Collect Contact Information: Start gathering information about resellers, which will be available on their Amazon storefront. This may be an incomplete mixture of business name, phone number, physical address, or email address.
- Make sure to cross reference this information with your brand’s database of distributors or dealers for a potential match.
- If there aren’t any matches, consult your customers as they may be an “indirect dealer” through your distributor.
- Send a Cease & Desist Letter: It’s time to get serious about taking action. Send resellers a cease and desist notice by certified mail or email, and be sure to include the best point of contact for your brand with all of their information. Reasons for a Cease and Desist Letter:
- MAP violations
- Exclusive Partnership/FBA Partnership violation
- Unauthorized reselling on Amazon
- Counterfeit products (more on this later)
- Send Again & Again:Send up to three cease and desist notices per reseller as violations persist (maximum of one notice per week). Remember, a cease and desist notice means the offending party must immediately quit this offense or, at minimum, be in contact with your brand for an agreed-upon clean-up plan.
PRO TIP: Above all else, make sure your brand and reseller establish a timeline for when this violation will be resolved—by cutting off their supply chain, allowing them to sell through inventory, or a buy-back agreement. This enforceable plan and end date should be communicated with your brand partners or authorized sellers who may be feeling the effects of unauthorized activity.
- Buy Your Product from Reseller: Purchase your product directly from the reseller and inspect their inventory. The most important purpose of this is to trace the serial number in your brand’s inventory management or ERP system. The serial number will allow you to track which distributor/dealer originally purchased the inventory from your brand.
- At this point, a type of cease and desist notice will be required in the context of an agreement violation. The notice must be sent by certified mail.
PRO TIP: First, reach out to the distributor’s Account Manager or Sales Director with questions and proof, to keep the relationship in good standing.
- Repeat: Repeat these steps for the next most prolific reseller until you have cleaned up the channel and knocked the offenders off of all listings in question.
Additional Steps to Protect Your Brand
- Create a Seller Central Account: No inventory necessary. Simply creating an account will help manufacturers increase the likelihood of controlling branded content on Amazon.
- Brand Registry: Once you’ve created a Seller Central account, you can become brand registered through Amazon’s system. This unlocks a suite of tools designed to help you build and protect your brand.
- Register Your Trademark with Customs: This will help protect your brand from imported counterfeit products. Also, consider Amazon’s Project Zero for automated protections.
- Don’t Rely on Amazon: Though Amazon is taking the necessary precautions, you can’t solely rely on them—it’s a choice you have to make and commit to! Always register your trademark, patents, and copyrighted material as well as using branded packaging to differentiate yourself from counterfeits.
Exercising control over your brand on Amazon is crucial. Growing your online reputation is ultimately the most vital strategy your brand can take for success, but it takes a lot of work. Brand protection and channel management is a full-time job that takes diligence and continuous monitoring. However, this necessary evil is the only way to provide customers with the best experience possible—and that’s at the heart of everything Amazon does.
Need help navigating the aspects of buyer-seller relations on Amazon?
Contact WishingUWell today—our experts are here to help you with all-things Amazon!