Don’t Sell Out: Proven Amazon Brand Protection Tactics
As the world’s biggest eCommerce marketplace, Amazon has always been a key target for counterfeiters. But since the pandemic, this problem has increased dramatically, with Amazon reporting a 67% rise in fake listings that has led the company to block around 10 million suspected listings last year alone. For brand owners looking to protect their profit and reputation, this is a serious warning sign.
A problem called Amazon counterfeiting
Amazon counterfeiting (and grey market activity) leads to severe financial and reputational damage for brands. Thousands of websites are created with the sole purpose of scamming shoppers into buying fake goods, stealing traffic and profit from the brands' rightful owners.
In addition to the loss of immediate revenue, customers often don’t realize that they have purchased from a fake version of the brand, leading to financial loss through fraud, disappointment, customer support stress, and a great deal of negative online reviews. At best, these customers are unlikely to go back and shop from the brand ever again. What's worse, cheap counterfeits are often likely to create a health hazard with unvetted materials and processes in use.
There are several risks that all businesses need to be aware of when it comes to Amazon brand protection. Here are 4 of the key issues every business should be aware of:
- Amazon vendors share a single Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN), which makes them more prone to ASIN hijacking. When a genuine seller uploads a product image, any other vendor claiming to sell the same product ASIN is able to use this image, in any Amazon store of their choice.
- Bulk reporting is unavailable, which makes mass takedowns a tedious task.
- In the process of taking down a patent violation, Amazon provides only the seller’s email, to be able to contact them directly, making it difficult to communicate your claim with the seller.
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a process by which Amazon stores and ships products to assist businesses in selling their product. As part of this service they consign similar products from different suppliers together, which increases the chance of a mistake being made with these products.
Larger brands are usually well aware of counterfeiting activities and have teams working on countermeasures. It’s often the SMBs who find this mess particularly hard to clean up.
Fake comments are another issue brands must face. Earlier this year, an open ElasticSearch database revealed more than 13 million fake reviews purchased by sellers, often in exchange for free products.
Three levels of Amazon brand protection
It is important to implement strong infrastructure from the very beginning. There are largely 3 levels of brand protection that organizations can undertake:solutions that depend less on technology, those offered by Amazon itself, and dedicated technologies that cover Amazon as well as other eCommerce platforms.
- Level 1: Manual protection
The manual protection process focuses on identifying counterfeiters by performing a thorough marketplace analysis, including user reviews.
Manual solutions are by definition not as technological , relying on familiarity with the brand and its goods to notice spelling mistakes in the brand and product names, different address endings eg .io vs .com. Off-brand colors and logo use are also solid signs of counterfeits.
Additionally, grey market goods may not fall under the classic definition of counterfeits, but are still sold without the brand owners’ consent.
- Level 2: Amazon native solutions
Amazon offers brands dedicated tools meant for fighting counterfeits. According to Dharmesh Mehta, VP Of Worldwide Customer Trust and Partner Support at Amazon, "In 2020, Amazon invested over $700 million and employed more than 10,000 people to protect our store from fraud and abuse."
Amazon also collaborates with the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), delivering what IACC President Bob Barchiesi describes as, “Real, practical, and substantive results, improving the intellectual property enforcement experience for both our brand participants and the rights-holder community as a whole.”
On the other hand, the company’s native brand protection solutions force brands to become even more dependent on Amazon, which is only one of multiple eCommerce platforms. Brands seeking comprehensive protection need a solution that covers all the bases.
- Level 3: Independent and comprehensive brand protection solutions
This level covers every step of the process, from detection to takedown, quickly and directly. Brands must examine the number of platforms covered by the technology, the time it takes to remove a threat, and how involved they must be in the process, which takes up more of the brand owners’ time and attention.
A trustworthy brand protection solution for eCommerce platforms delivers the following results:
- Website removal: Your chosen technology should take down websites and sellers immediately and efficiently.
- Listing coverage: Aim for 95% coverage over time of platforms and networks, and expect the number of detected counterfeit products and related sellers to drop, delivering a spike in website traffic and a noticeable revenue increase.
- Impact speed: This will directly affect your bottom line since unauthorized products damage your brand every moment they are available online.
- Improved customer relationships: Brand protection keeps your audience safe, improving the level of customer trust and reducing complaints regarding fake merchandise.
In today’s climate, brands can’t leave customers to fend for themselves and verify a product’s authenticity. The responsible thing to do is protect your brand in order to also protect your customers. Offering information and educating customers on what makes a product genuine is essential, as is harnessing advanced technology to detect and remove these threats.