Have you ever wished you knew how to prevent unscrupulous sellers from stealing your listings from right under your nose? It’s one of the worst things that can happen to you as an Amazon FBA seller. When I first started, my knowledge about online retailers, like Amazon and eBay, was pretty limited.
I was a newbie back then. And somehow my supplier got a whiff of my vulnerability, took advantage of my inexperience, and stole my listing even before my shipment arrived. So I told myself, never will I let anything like that happen to me again.
So here I am sharing my story to help other sellers like you avoid the same bad experience.
How does this kind of scam happen? Well, a typical scenario goes like this.
You’ve done your research on the product to sell, market feasibility, what design, what colors, and where to source it. And so you negotiated with suppliers, the goods arrived and now customers are flocking to your store. You’re happy and congratulated yourself for a job well done.
But then maybe you spoke too soon.
Because lo and behold, some phony vendor suddenly appears from the depths of who knows where, selling the exact same (or nearly the same) products as you. As if stealing your listing wasn’t bad enough, this impostor seller has also taken away your Buy Box, making it even harder for you to make a sale.
What can you do?
Are there preventive measures for this? What if it has happened already, can vendors like you and I stop phony sellers in their tracks?
Such a situation is sometimes the result of your own supplier double-crossing you. Other times it’s just some jealous competitor taking over your listing either selling the exact same products as you do or a low quality knockoff in order to siphon your sales into their pocket.
If you manufacture your products then there is a possibility that the impostor seller is conniving with your supplier. You can stop them in their tracks. Here are five ways to do it.
- Never Let Your Supplier Know You Intend to Sell Products Online
The first thing you need to do to keep phony sellers at bay is to display your FNSKU identification tags in a discreet manner. If your supplier asks what you intend to do with your products, make them think you’re selling them through various physical outlets.
This will help keep unscrupulous vendors from finding out about your listings and stealing your sales. As long as you’re able to keep people from knowing that you sell on Amazon or other online outlets, chances are good that you’ll be able to keep these nuisance sellers off your back indefinitely.
- Mix and Match Products to Drive Them Off Track
You can throw-off would-be imitators by mixing and matching various goods and products into ready-made kits, fun kits, gift-sets and whatnot, instead of selling them distinctly as individual products. The idea behind adding a myriad of other items into the combo is to confuse potential imitators, making it hard for them to replicate your offerings.
Of course, in order for this strategy to work the items in those bundles must be made by different unrelated manufacturers. In this case a potential copycat vendor will have to do some acrobatic in order to successfully clone your kits, sets and combos. Let a separate independent company prepare those combo packs for you to further obliterate the details of what items are in there and how the finished products look like. This way, your competitors will have an even harder time deciphering your listings.
- Mark Your Products with Your Trademark or Logo
First of all, make sure you are the rightful owner of the logo and trademark you are using. Branding your products with your logo will make it stand out from the rest. For example, if your brand is registered with Amazon, you can ask Amazon to ban vendors mimicking your listings and disguising their low quality products as yours.
Also unscrupulous sellers are less likely to piggyback your listings if you have duly registered trademarks, for fear of investigation and being sued.
- Use an Independent Third Party Packaging and Shipping Company
The rationale behind this move is keep your competitors from knowing what your products look like in by the time they’re ready to ship.
Using a third party company to pack and prepare your products makes sure you have full control over the quality of your products. Doing so not only ensures positive experience for your customers; it also keeps your listings safe from prying eyes.
- Draw Up a Contract of Confidentiality with the Manufacturer and Supplier
Drawing up a contract that includes a provision on confidentiality with your supplier or manufacturer will ensure that these partners of yours will refrain from undermining your business interests.
The agreement should also contain a clause that bars them from diverting the use of your intellectual property without your express approval in writing. Aside from ensuring confidentiality of your products and listings a contract can also serve as a guideline that each party can refer back to in case of any confusion regarding obligations.
Bonus Tip: What to Do in Case Someone Has Already Stolen Your Listing
If someone has already taken over your listing, here’s a number of things you can do to prevent them from harming your business and reputation:
- Reduce your price to below your competitors
- Give the unscrupulous vendor a warning
- Have someone close to you buy the fake product
- Report the incident to Amazon
Although you have to make a sacrifice of losing money, reducing your price will help you win back the Buy Box, and in the process prevent the bad seller from making a sale. This will enable you to protect your reputation as a seller, and possibly even improve your ratings.
Be civil when asking the phony vendor to remove the listing. However, make it clear that you will take appropriate action should they refuse to do so.
Now examine the fake item that your friend bought. See how it compares with yours. Could it be coming from the same supplier? Scrutinize every detail and then file an A – Z complaint to Amazon, explaining how this product is being fraudulently sold, undermining your profits and reputation.
If you have reason to believe that your supplier is responsible for all this mess, stay calm. Even if they did this to you, you don’t want to accuse them to their face of bad faith just yet. Well, not until you found another manufacturer that is able to provide you with products that measure up to your specifications and requirements.
Once you found a new supplier, take heed of these tips to prevent the same thing from happening again.
We hope this article has been helpful to you. If you’re experiencing other problems with regard to selling on Amazon, such as unpaid FBA reimbursements, we can help.
Let Seller Investigators help you save time and resources, and collect the money owed you by Amazon in a fast and expedient manner so you can focus on driving your business towards success.