Amazon has grown to become the largest online marketplace in the world, with E-commerce sales reaching nearly $750 billion in 2023. This success not only reflects Amazon’s dominance in B2C but is also reflected in the projected 43 percent year-over-year growth of Amazon Business, the marketplace’s home for B2B sales.
However, Amazon’s rapid growth has also led to a proliferation of unauthorized resellers who often go unnoticed by manufacturers. A few years ago, we partnered with B2B Ecommerce technology firm Corevist to survey B2B manufacturers, and we found that an shocking 70 percent of companies selling on Amazon didn’t know who was selling their products on the platform.
Many of these unauthorized resellers are opportunistic, fly-by-night operations, using subpar quality brand content and setting prices far below what they should be. Not only does this lead to price erosion, but it also creates enormous amounts of channel conflict, with both distributors and internal sales teams unable to effectively sell. If left unchecked, these unauthorized resellers will ultimately lead to a material deterioration of a company’s brand perception in the marketplace, working against all other marketing and sales investments a firm might make.
The good news is that there is a way to wrangle control of your brand and products on Amazon. Perhaps counter-intuitively, it starts with taking a proactive approach to selling and managing Amazon. However, it’s important to also recognize that brand control on Amazon can’t be accomplished on the platform alone. It needs to happen both outside and inside the marketplace, using a combination of intellectual property and brand management tools, as well as the proactive management of distribution channels.
Let’s take a closer look at the steps you can follow to eliminate unauthorized resellers and regain full control over their brand.
1. Understand the Landscape and Inventory Sellers
The first step is to understand the landscape of resellers selling your products both on and off Amazon. Start with your overall go-to-market strategy and evaluate the current state of the resale market. Identify and analyze who is selling your products on Amazon and create a list of any unauthorized resellers. Amazon Seller Central provides some visibility into this, but the best way is to simply search Amazon for your products and click on “Other Sellers” to see all sellers. There are also software tools that are designed to help you identify and monitor all sellers.
2. Build a Strong Foundation for Channel Control
Before engaging with unauthorized resellers, it’s essential to have your channel control policies and programs in place. This starts with a distribution agreement that outlines how and where you want products sold and their minimum price point. It also needs to prohibit any unauthorized resale of your products. Additionally, publish an Internet Sales Policy on both your website and your Amazon brand page that prohibits the sale of products by unauthorized resellers.
3. Register for Amazon Brand Registry
Amazon wants manufacturers to own their branded content, and they've made significant investments in tools to help brands over the years. To that end, the platform offers a Brand Registry service that gives you control of your brand by registering trademarks and allowing you to consolidate product listings. It gives you authority over all brand and product content on Amazon, meaning you can control any seller publishing your product content on Amazon. This creates the ability to improve and add more types of content, including Enhanced Brand Content and a Branded Storefront. It also provides you with a channel to request Amazon to remove unauthorized sellers, as well as consolidate their listings with your own (more on that below).
4. Launch an “Authorized for Amazon” Program
An “Authorized for Amazon” program builds on your distribution agreement and other policies by outlining the specific criteria required to be an authorized Amazon reseller for your brand. Criteria could include multi-channel selling, adhering to Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policies, maintaining adequate inventory, and providing post-purchase customer service. Take time to document the program terms so there is clarity on who is authorized.
5. Add Warranty/Guarantee Messaging
Your warranty or guarantee is one of the most effective tools for combating unauthorized resellers. To take advantage of this, you must include messaging on product pages that the product has a warranty or guarantee only when purchased from an authorized seller. State in your policies that products purchased from unauthorized sellers are not covered by warranty/guarantee. These steps will create a “material difference” that unauthorized resellers cannot match, thus giving you the ability to claim to Amazon that they are violating your IP rights by selling a different product under your brand name.
6. Report Fraudulent Listings and Consolidate Resellers
As mentioned above, Amazon’s Brand Registry enables you to take control of your brand presence on the platform. You can also leverage Brand Registry to report fraudulent listings by sellers who are misrepresenting themselves as authorized to sell your products. You can ask Amazon to consolidate product pages. At this step, you may also wish to contact the seller directly, providing them with the criteria to become an authorized seller. Most likely, they will back off and move on to other branded products that are not being monitored.
7. Escalate through Legal Channels as Needed
Unfortunately, some sellers may choose to hold out. For any sellers unwilling to comply either with you or Amazon, you can escalate through legal channels such as having your attorney send cease and desist letters invoking your sales policies and brand protection rights. You may even escalate further by taking additional legal action for non-compliance with your resale policies. Pursuing this means an extra expense and should be seen as a last resort.
The key to successfully protecting your brand on Amazon is being proactive about managing your presence on the platform as well as monitoring sellers. With the right IP protections, sales policies, and brand control programs in place, you can eliminate many of the unauthorized selling issues—and the channel conflict headaches it produces. As mentioned, managing your brand on Amazon goes hand-in-hand with managing it outside Amazon, but with the above steps, you can take control and limit damages from unauthorized resellers.
Need help protecting your brand on Amazon? Enceiba is here to help! Contact us to get your FREE Amazon assessment and learn more about our Approved for Amazon program.