How to stop your Amazon product listing being hijacked or piggybacked
We get a lot of angry sellers contacting us because someone has hijacked their Amazon Private Label product listing. Their sales slow down and damage is done to the product rank and reviews. It is a horrible situation to be in as you may have spent months creating the product and then spent your hard earned money promoting it. We also get new sellers asking if they should risk launching a Private Label product as they keep hearing about hijackers and piggybackers.
This seems to be happening more frequently and there is a reasonable chance that you will experience your Amazon listing being hijacked at some point when doing Private Label selling. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to prevent it and limit the damage if it does happen. The hijackers will always go for the low hanging fruit. If you create a few barriers this will deter them from targeting your listing and brand.
What is hijacking and piggybacking?
This is when a competitor starts selling an identical or counterfeit product on your listing, normally undercutting your price. Amazon Private Label sellers normally get a generic white label product made in China and then add their brand. A competitor can easily get the same generic version of your product manufactured. It might be identical and possibly even made in the same factory. It could also be counterfeit and of lesser quality which can cause additional problems.
If another Amazon seller starts selling the exact same product but on their own listing then this is a different problem. This will happen if your product is not patented or protected and starts selling well. The new seller is probably just going through the same process you did when you created your private label product. They may have used Jungle Scout to find a good product and launch their own version. In this case, you just have to make sure your marketing and customer service is better than your competition so it doesn’t affect your sales.
What are the effects of hijackers on your Amazon Private Label listing?
If the hijacker’s price is similar or lower than your price they will start to get orders that were meant to go to you. If the product is of inferior quality then it could start getting bad reviews which could permanently damage the listing and effectively kill off future sales. There is also the danger that the hijacker reports you for infringement on your own listing claiming they are in fact the genuine seller and rights holder.
What steps can I take to stop this happening?
If you are serious about your brand then it is important to get your brand registered with Amazon’s Brand Registry Program and then try to get the brand Gated. The time you invest in protecting the listing and brand is well worth the effort. Lost sales could cost you a fortune and you could also lose the product completely if the listing is ruined.
STEP ONE – CONSTANTLY MONITOR YOUR AMAZON LISTINGS
It is worth manually checking your listings every week to see if there are any other sellers. Also, keep a look out if sales volume for a particular product starts to decrease as it may indicate another seller is taking those orders.
We also recommend you use Helium 10 to automate this process. Their ‘Hijacker Alert’ tool will monitor your ASINS 24/7 so you will get an alert if there is another seller on your listing. It is free to use and comes with a suite of other great tools so you should sign up and add your products today – Helium 10.
STEP TWO – CREATE A WEBSITE FOR YOUR BRAND
You need to build a simple website which has your brand name, address and all your company details. The details need to match those on your Amazon seller account. Ideally, the domain name will also match your brand name. If your seller account name is different to the brand name then make sure the website is the brand but your seller account details are included in the address and contact details. So everything is easy for Amazon make sure your brand name is very clearly showing on your home page.
You just need to create a simple one-page site which looks professional. You do not need a full blown e-commerce site at this point. Creating a website could not only help you get brand registered and gated with Amazon but also help customers to find out about your products. In future, you could add a shop to your website so customers can buy directly, therefore, diversifying your business.
Setting up a simple and professional website
1. Firstly you need to buy a domain and hosting. We use Siteground for all our sites as they offer great support and have always resolved any issues quickly. Visit Siteground to get started.
2. Then you need to install WordPress. Luckily on Siteground this is incredibly simple and free. You just click a button and fill in some information and its done.
3. WordPress comes with some preinstalled themes which look okay. For a more professional and customisable website, we like to install our own themes and plugins and we use MyThemeShop for these. You can have unlimited access to all their products for a monthly fee or just choose the one you want. For this site we used the Onepage theme. Visit MyThemeShop now.
4. You now just need to add a contact form, logo and your company details to your WordPress site. You can then put the site live and you are done.
STEP THREE – GET BRAND REGISTERED WITH AMAZON
This is actually a fairly straightforward process once you have taken the steps outlined above. Simply fill in the form on Amazon.
Amazon Brand Registry has the added advantage of making your listing more customisable. It is also an important step towards brand gating.
Trademarking your product
Amazon has recently made changes to the Brand Registry Program. In order to get brand registered you now need a trademark in place. Filing a Trademark application will also help you get your brand gated in future and deter potential hijackers. For US based sellers it can take between 6 and 12 months to get registered and will cost a minimum of $250. For UK sellers it will take about 4 months and costs about £180.
STEP FOUR- MAXIMISE AND CUSTOMISE YOUR AMAZON LISTING
There are various steps you can take on your actual listing which will help to deter hijackers.
1. Make sure the brand name is in the title and also repeated in the description.
2. You can even include a trademark or copyright symbol in the title next to your brand name.
3. Include a reference to the warranty only being valid if the product is purchased from your company. In theory, sellers are not allowed to list a product as new if they are selling it without a warranty. This gives you another avenue to get Amazon to remove the hijacker from the listing as they will technically be violating Amazon terms.
4. Some sellers will include a free ebook or bonus item and mention this clearly in the listing. Hijackers will not be able to offer this to customers and so are effectively not offering the correct product as described. Again, this gives you grounds to file a complaint.
5. Try to show a close up photo of your branding and logo clearly in the product photos.
These steps will certainly help deter potential hijackers, help protect your brand and they are relatively easy to do. They also have the added benefit of building brand awareness and making your products look more distinct and valuable to potential customers.
STEP FIVE- GET YOUR BRAND GATED BY AMAZON.
Brand Gating is no longer just for larger established brands. As a Private Label seller, you may be able to get your brand gated. It will be difficult and you must be Brand Registered before you can apply. This will offer the ultimate protection so is definitely worth attempting. The process should become easier over the next 6 – 9 months as Amazon works through the backlog of applications.
Before contacting Amazon it is worth checking if your brand has been automatically enrolled in the Brand Gating Program. You can do this by getting someone else to test ‘Add a Product’ on their account and use one of your ASINS. If you have been automatically Brand Gated then this is a real bonus.
Make sure you have created a distinct brand before applying as outlined in Step Two. If Amazon sees you have taken these steps and your brand looks more official then they are more likely to let you be gated. When contacting Amazon point out the fact you have a pending trademark and also you have had issues with counterfeiters trying to sell your products.
What you should do if your Amazon listing has been hijacked
Obviously, you need to take the steps above to get Registered and Gated if you have not already done this. If your listing has just been hijacked you need to take action now to limit the damage. The first thing you should do is to contact the seller directly by clicking on their seller name on the listing. Then send them a message like this;
Dear seller, It has come to our attention you are reselling ‘Insert brand name here’ products on the Amazon marketplace. We do not offer our products through wholesalers or distributors and are the only company authorised to sell ‘Insert brand name here’ products. We are the manufacturer and brand owner of ‘Insert brand name here’
Affected products: ‘insert name and asin here’
You have 24 hrs to remove your listing for this product. If you have not removed the listing we will report you to Amazon who will take action on our behalf. Amazon takes these issues seriously and can shut down your selling account permanently.
Please contact us to confirm you have removed your listing.
Sincerely ‘insert name and brand name here’
Filing an infringement complaint with Amazon
Emailing the seller should normally do the trick as they will not want to risk their selling account. If for some reason they do not comply then you need to file an infringement complaint with Amazon. You should purchase the product from the infringing seller to use as evidence. It might take days or weeks to arrive if they are a Chinese based seller.
When it arrives you need to take photos. Then make a note of all the ways in which it is different from the genuine product and the Amazon listing. You can then file a complaint based on it being a counterfeit product which should mean Amazon will take action. The more detailed evidence you supply the better so it is worth taking your time with this.
We hope you found this information helpful. Please add your suggestions or comments to help other Amazon sellers.
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