Do you truly feel that your FBA listing is secure on Amazon from illicit sellers of your product? Amazon is arguably the best marketplace to sell if you are in the e-commerce business. However, things can get wild if you are not covering all your bases.
Just when you think that you have surpassed your competition and have won the buy box, think again. Your skyrocketing sales and best-seller products can be a green signal for the Amazon listing hijackers to go after your business and take you down.
Didn’t get it? Well, getting ‘hijacked’ means that someone else is selling a highly similar or you can say a counterfeit version of your private label product on Amazon. It means that if your product is not registered with Amazon, anyone can access your listings and make edits. This only leads to you competing for the Buy Box with the hijackers ripping off your Idea.
If you are not familiar with the Buy Box feature, it is a Call to Action that encourages the buyers to purchase your product directly from your products page. It is not the feature that you can easily obtain, Amazon automatically grants this feature to your listing after it determines your listing as original or best fit.
In this guide, we will highlight the industry-proven techniques of getting unauthorized seller removed from your private label listings. Remember, you have to do this for the products that are both out of stock and in stock.
Why is it important?
As a brand owner, you always need to protect its reputation. People who are selling on your listing are not always selling your authentic product. 99% chances are that they are selling counterfeits or fake versions of your product that are second-rate in quality.
Before we move further, you need to understand who Amazon Hijackers are:
Hijackers are the sellers on your listing who manages to undercut your price just enough to steal the Buy Box from you. Typically, these hijackers are bots running on an algorithm or possibly some Chinese counterfeiters trying to get a leg up on your success.
On the other hand, there is the second type of hijackers as well. They are known as ‘leeches’ and are not considered harmful as they don’t actually own the Buy Box, but they can be equally annoying.
Many of these hijackers are bots without any feedback or history. In most cases, they just launch a brand-new Amazon account right before they start assaulting yours.
How to protect your Amazon listing from Hijackers?
There isn’t a tool or anything that provides your listing full hijacker-protection. However, there are ways of using them which you can deter them. The first thing to do would be to keep a close eye on your Amazon listing and never ‘snooze.’ If you fail to do so, the risk of someone taking advantage of your listing increases.
If you want to combat the hijackers’ issue, there are few things that you can do;
You may have heard the phrase “offense is the best defense.” Well, it is something that will come in handy when struggling with the hijacker issue. First and foremost, take screenshots of your Amazon private label listing page (every product listing you have). There will be no need to submit the screenshots to Amazon in case your listings get hijacked, but keeping it documented will help just in case.
Moreover, make sure you document the ‘browse node’ after uploading your flat file to Amazon. Amazon uses browse node (numerical ID) for organizing its products for sale.
Each ID represents a collection of products for sale, such as ‘Smartphones’ and not the products themselves. Browse nodes are numerical IDs that identify the item collections.
Consider this example for books for understanding what browse node actually is;
- Mystery and Thrillers: (27)
- Medicine: (134653)
- Fiction and Literature: (665)
If you are not sure where to find your browse node, click findbrowsenodes and type in your Amazon URL, ASIN, or category, and it will find your browse node for you.
The best thing about browse node is that it allows Amazon to easily restore your product listings if required.
Build your Brand Website:
You may think that building a brand website is little too early but it is necessary. It not only helps Amazon understand that you are without a doubt the owner of your brand but also allows you to register your brand with Amazon.
On the other hand, it is a good idea to create a website page that lists your items and products along with their specific SKUs. All you have to do is copy-paste your Amazon Product listing on your website. This will be the additional evidence that will strengthen the fact that you are the owner of your brand.
Trademark your Brand:
It is not necessary but Amazon recommends its sellers to trademark their brand. It is easy and will make it easier for you to register your brand with Amazon. Getting your brand trademarked is essential because if we put this in a simple way, Amazon will not act against your product’s counterfeiters if you don’t own the rights to your brand for starters.
Here is a simple way using which you can trademark your brand;
- Click on Knowem to check whether your brand domain name is available or not.
- If the domain name seems available, you can double check it using the US Trademark and Patent Office search tool. It will ensure that your brand name isn’t trademarked by someone else and is available.
- Next, search your brand name on Amazon and see if someone else is using it or not.
- Now register your brand.
Register your Brand:
Amazon offers a brand registry for all private sellers. Registering your brand with Amazon will make it easier for you to list and manage your products. However, it will not give 100% protection against unauthorized sellers or the hijackers but it will restrain the hijackers from editing your list.
Here is how you can complete the application for your Amazon brand registry; you are required to provide the following;
- Your product packaging’s image with your brand name visible on top
- Your product’s image with your brand name visible on the product itself
- Your brand’s website link that displays your products and brands
- image of your brand registry page
What if I have been already hijacked?
Well, this is a tough situation both for you and your business. While you can’t win every battle there are certain measures that you can take to fight the hijackers. Here are some strategies that you can approach;
Identify the Hijacker and record his/her Information:
First, you need to confirm whether you are hijacked or not. It is quite simple; you can do it automatically by availing the services of a 3rd party software or even manually as well. However, if you are a Pro Seller on Amazon, you should stop monitoring your listings manually instead you should go for an automatic listing monitoring. It will help you monitor all your listings and detect any malicious (hijacker) activity. You will be notified once the tool catches any hijacker activity.
Once you have identified the hijacker, you have to perform the following tasks;
- Record Date
- Record ASINs
- Record Seller Page URL and Storefront
- Record Store Name
- Record Seller ID
Monitor the Status of the Hijacker Inventory:
This step is important because it will help you ensure that the ‘suspect’ is definitely the hijacker. Determine how much inventory the suspect has. You can achieve it by adding the suspect’s product to ‘My Shopping Cart.’ Start with a very high number, say 999. Amazon will tell you that the volume (999) you are ordering is not available. Then change the volume by reducing down until Amazon allows you to order that number. You can start with 999 units and then reduce down to 500, 250, 100, and so on. The volume at which Amazon agrees to place the order is the volume the seller has available.
Follow this simple procedure;
- Open the “Product Detail” Page and click on “Buy from other sellers”
- Next click on “Add to Cart”
- Open “View Cart” and change the volume to 999, 500, 250, etc until Amazon agrees to place the order is the volume
- This way you can find out the exact inventory size of the hijacker
So, to wrap things up, the more volume the seller has available, the more likely is he/she your hijacker who is selling forged products.
Double Check: Reseller or Hijacker:
A Hijacker is a counterfeiter who is trying to sell the fake version of your product under your brand name. They will mimic the exact copy of the packaging.
A Reseller is someone who is selling the product that he/she had purchased from you at some point. So it is okay for them to do this because the product is genuine and they are only selling one.
Send a ‘Cease and Desist’ Letter:
Once you determine that the seller is not a reseller but the hijacker; then it is time to engage in a quick and belligerent communication with the seller. That is, it is time to send a Cease and Desist letter to the hijacker as soon as possible. Consider the below-given template; it can handle a number of hijackers. Feel free to use this Cease and Desist letter if required.
It has come to my attention that you are using [Your BRAND] or [Your COMPANY] trademarks and name for selling products on Amazon marketplace. It is clearly the violation of multiple national and international criminal laws, in addition to civil laws regarding unfair competition and trademark infringement.
My company is an exclusive distributor and owner of this brand. I have never granted any permission to you to sell my product nor have I sold you the supply for resale. This letter will act as your Legal Notice to Cease and Desist the further actions mentioned above, including any mention of my Company/Product/Brand on your Listings on any marketing efforts, websites, or Marketplace. You are hereby instructed to abide by with this letter straight away or face legal actions under applicable Federal, State, and International law.
I have also complained about your copyright and trademark infringement to Amazon Seller Performance. You have 24 hours to meet the terms or I will take further legal action against you.
You can send the hijacker this letter by;
- Open the hijacker’s Amazon seller profile
- Next, click on ‘ask seller a question’
- Now choose ‘other’ for nature of the inquiry
- Copy paste the given template with little modifications (modify the words in the brackets)
Now, wait for 1-2 days to see if the hijacker responds.
Place an Order:
If the hijacker/seller removes his/her listing, then you are good to go. Now all you have to do is monitor all your listings once again to check for repeat offenders.
However, if the seller continues to return to your listings as a hijacker then you will have to take extreme measures.
Purchase the complete stock the hijacker has, you can refund these later. If possible, avail one-day shipping to speed things up.
Doing this will accomplish two things;
- You can review the seller’s item and demonstrate to Amazon Seller Performance that the seller is selling nothing but a counterfeit replica of your product.
- As you have bought every single product from the seller’s inventory, the seller will not be able to cater more sales.
However, say if the hijacker is selling from China or some other country, then the delivery time to your country will be long. Hence, don’t buy the product unless the seller refuses to take down his/her listing.
Dealing with the counterfeiters and hijackers is a necessary part of doing business on Amazon. If you are a successful seller then the chances of you dealing with hijackers increase drastically. The key is how you efficiently deal with them. Your objective should be to reclaim your listing as quickly as possible and ensure that you are winning the Buy Box.