What to Do About Third-Party Sellers Violating Your Brand’s Guidelines on Amazon

By: Andrew Schydlowsky (TrackStreet) January 3, 2018

Amazon Brand Registry vs. Restricted Brand Status

In a recent post, we walked you through the basic setup for selling your branded products on Amazon.

But what if it’s your resale partners who are selling your products on Amazon? And what if you discover that some of those partners are violating your branding guidelines or your reseller pricing policies?

Third-party Sellers Violating Amazon

Worse: What if you discover that some third-party retailers on Amazon — who aren’t even part of your authorized resale network — are selling your products on the marketplace, and violating your guidelines in the process?

And worse still: What if you discover counterfeiters on Amazon trying to sell fake versions of your branded products?

 

Your 5 Options for Dealing with Resellers Who Violate Your Brand’s Guidelines on Amazon

1. Do nothing and hope the problem goes away.

Dealing with Resellers Who Violate Your Brand’s Guidelines on Amazon

Believe it or not, many manufacturers and brands simply ignore violations of their policies when they discover them on Amazon (or on other online marketplaces).

In some cases, this is because the employee who spots the violation — say, a retailer advertising the product in its Amazon storefront for a price below the brand’s MAP or Unilateral Price Policy (UPP) levels — does not want to upset the retailer, who is a lucrative partner for the brand.

In other cases, the employee who catches the reseller violation on Amazon simply doesn’t know what steps to take to address the problem.

But ignoring reseller policy violations, on Amazon or anywhere else, is the worst possible approach — because it can quickly lead to additional violations, a price war, upset resellers and ultimately, significant harm to Brand Value.

 

2. Contact Amazon directly to complain.

This is a better option than doing nothing — but Amazon may choose to not take the action you are hoping for to settle disputes between your company and third-party sellers on the site.

For example, if a retailer is violating your MAP or UPP pricing guidelines, they may opt out of intervention. Similarly, if you want to complain that a retailer is not part of your authorized dealer network, or that the company isn’t using your sales copy or other assets the way you believe best reflect your brand, Amazon may decide to remain neutral in your dispute.

The one exception here is if a retailer is violating your copyright or other intellectual property rights. In such a case, you can typically contact Amazon directly, and they will likely remove the listings in question while you marshal evidence that the seller is indeed infringing on your intellectual property rights.

But for most business-related complaints — e.g., a third-party seller isn’t following your branding or pricing guidelines, or you haven’t given the seller permission to list your products — you will need to take action beyond simply calling Amazon’s Seller Teams to ask for help.

 

3. Sign up for Amazon Brand Registry.

The Amazon Brand Registry program offers additional safeguards for a manufacturer or brand owner looking to control how its brand appears across the Amazon marketplace. In fact, as we’ve written about recently, the new version of Amazon Brand Registry has added even more tools to help protect brand owners.

Essentially, signing up for Amazon Brand Registry means you are registering with Amazon as an official “brand owner” for each of your company’s brands. If Amazon accepts your application, you will be able to have more direct control over which sellers are allowed to list your products on Amazon and how that content is presented.

But again, it’s important to understand program limitations. Amazon may choose to not intervene in pricing or other types of business disputes between brands and resellers — unless there is a legal claim involved.

Which is why the best real enforcement options behind Amazon Brand Registry often involve intellectual property protections. The new Brand Registry, for example, provides brand owners with “predictive automation” tools that let them proactively monitor the Amazon marketplace for possible counterfeit listings or retailers illegally using their trademarks or other intellectual property.

But simply signing up for Amazon Brand Registry does not mean you can call Amazon and ask them to stop a third-party seller from selling your products because the company has not signed up to be one of your authorized retail partners. Assuming your company can’t prove fraud or copyright infringements, Amazon may not get involved in these matters, unless the third-party seller has actually violated any of Amazon’s own seller policies.

 

4. Apply for Amazon’s “Restricted Brand” status.

Perhaps the most aggressive strategy for protecting your brand against third-party sellers violating your brand’s guidelines on Amazon is to try to get your brand onto Amazon’s Restricted Brand list.

If you’re able to make it onto that list, you will often have Amazon’s full support in preventing any business other than your own (or a designated reseller) listing your products anywhere on the Amazon marketplace. Amazon will even issue notifications on your behalf to all of its sellers to let them know they can no longer offer your products — and that if they do, Amazon will immediately remove those listings.

The chief reasoning behind such aggressive protection of certain brands on Amazon is that they are typically products prone to counterfeiting — such as high-end handbags or watches.

But because the Restricted Brand program is so aggressive and can limit a brand owner’s access to resale channels across Amazon, unless your company is specifically concerned about counterfeiters, this might not be the right reseller-enforcement strategy for you.

 

5. Implement an automated brand protection solution.

Because there are so many complicated issues at play when it comes to protecting your brand on Amazon, and because any one of these options all by themselves probably won’t protect against every possible violation of your branding guidelines, we recommend an automated online platform for brand protection — on Amazon and across the entire Internet 24/7/365, like the one offered by TrackStreet.

Such a solution will help your company monitor your brand’s presence online, every second of every day, continually reviewing all reseller listings and ads against your branding and pricing guidelines — and helping you take appropriate and swift action to address violations.

To discover how to automate your online brand protection, schedule a demo with a TrackStreet Brand Protection Expert now.

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