How to Avoid Getting Brand Slammed on Amazon
By Ina Steiner
Red Points CEO Laura Urquizu recently spoke to us about Amazon's crackdown on counterfeits in a recent issue of EB 411. In addition to explaining Amazon's Brand Registry and Brand Gating, she had some advice for sellers on how to avoid getting into trouble selling branded goods on Amazon.
Red Points is a leader in brand and copyright protection that combines proprietary technology with legal, technical, and analytical expertise to defend international brands and online content providers against counterfeiting and digital piracy.
Urquizu said all of her brand clients welcome the steps that Amazon is taking against sellers who list fake or imitation products, however, she said, few feel that their brand is completely safe on the site.
Here an excerpt of the interview where she offers brands' perspectives on marketplace sales - and yes, it does make a difference if you are an authorized reseller or not.
EcommerceBytes: What can Amazon sellers who purchase branded inventory from authorized distributors do to protect themselves?
Laura Urquizu: Authorized sellers are sometimes flagged by our system but are verified by the distributor or manufacturer; we have found that those that can produce invoices and documents quickly have the least trouble on Amazon.
The new Amazon brand gating system will require payment for selling certain brands and require evidence of purchase.
From our point of view, it would be a case of making your paperwork as digital as possible, ensuring processes are fast and robust, also creating solid relationships with distributors would certainly be helpful.
EcommerceBytes: What about sellers who acquire inventory from liquidators, retail stores, or non-authorized distributors? What is your advice to them about selling on sites like Amazon?
Laura Urquizu: I believe it's fair to say that things are going to get more complicated for unauthorized sellers. I believe preparation and documentation will be key. Being able to provide evidence of purchase will be critical.
Also it will be important to plan for delays, the process will be longer and your sales calendar should have adequate time for the verification process.
EcommerceBytes: What recommendations do you give to your brand clients about dealing with these various types of marketplace sellers?
Laura Urquizu: We recommend that our brand clients use the tools that Amazon have provided as they will help reduce the risk of counterfeits, or at least make them easier for us to verify once detected. We encourage our brand clients to not hesitate in flagging a suspicious listing, if the price is unusually low or other warning signs.
If the seller is unauthorized, we would recommend that we investigate this further, at this point it depends on the evidence they are able to provide to Amazon.
Our clients work hard to create their brands, and if an unauthorized seller cannot provide satisfactory evidence to verify the product, naturally we would recommend to the client that the product is removed.
We appreciate that many unauthorized sellers have taken advantage of a liquidation, etc. and are selling genuine products that have been fairly acquired, however, these sellers are not what immediately concerns our clients. Our brand clients fear the number of design replicas and fakes in the Amazon marketplace are now making it hard for consumers to buy their products.
EcommerceBytes: Are there any differences between what Amazon is doing in the US versus Europe?
Laura Urquizu: It looks like "Brand Gating" will be rolled out globally on Amazon.com/ .co.uk /.es and so on. The driving force behind this strategy is the rising number of counterfeits on the site globally. Therefore, it's highly unlikely that this strategy will be contained to just the US.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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