We often hear the term hijacking in movies and usually, planes, buses, and other transportation mediums are the victims. Apparently, in the virtual world, hijackers also exist and Amazon is one of its targets.
In this article, we’ll talk about effective ways to stop Amazon hijackers from sabotaging your product listings and the essential to-dos in handling the compromised ones.
Everything You Need to Know to Effectively Stop Amazon Hijackers
Amazon categorizes its hijackers into three types: the Imposter, the Counterfeiter, and the Saboteur.
The imposters are the sellers who copy everything about your product listing, making theirs almost identical to yours and the only things that will set the two apart are the name of the sellers and the price. To lure as many customers as possible, imposters will set their price cheaper than yours and they would get to have the edge without having to pay for the operational costs of promoting and running a brand.
The counterfeiters, on the other hand, are the sellers who may rip off everything about your brand, e.g. your product images, logo, content, and name, to sell a counterfeit product. Counterfeit product listings are more difficult to spot as they do not appear on the normal listing. They appear, rather, on second listings that customers may come across while browsing.
The last type is the saboteur. These hijackers go the extra mile in sabotaging your listing and destroying the credibility of your buy box. They do this by changing your descriptions, titles, images, and categories, making the listing inaccurate and fraud. At times, saboteurs may even run bots that make intentionally bad reviews to discourage your customers to buy from your listing.
To protect yourself from any of the abovementioned hijackers, first and foremost you need to have the skills to spot them. If you are on Amazon as a customer, one way to effectively spot a potentially hijacked and counterfeit listing is two or more sellers are using it, e.g. same ASIN and odds.
Meanwhile, product listings with prices higher than the usual should not be automatically considered as counterfeit listings since they could be from drop shippers or distributors. It pays to understand the difference so that, as a customer, you would be able to take an accurate course of action.
Stopping Amazon Hijackers as an Amazon Seller
Being aware of the presence of hijackers and 3P sellers, Amazon creates essential protocols and programs to protect 1P and 2P sellers as well as customers from such threats. If you wish to prevent Amazon hijackers from affecting your business, Amazon would like you to heed the following tips:
1. Join Amazon’s Brand Registry.
To prove to your target market that you are a credible and legit brand selling authentic products, enrolling your brand in Brand Registry will help. This action will set you apart from your hijacking competitors.
Joining in the registry is free and the cost you will only have to bear is that from registering a trademark for your brand being one of Amazon’s primary requirements. This may be a simple requirement but it does the job in screening the list against knock-off brands and counterfeit sellers.
2. Brand your products visibly.
Do this by consistently showing your trademark and logo on each of your listings, on the packaging, and on the physical item. This may be a simple gesture but it will give your customers that needed sense of security knowing what they have are truly authentic.
Also, as much as possible, make your product unique. This will prevent scammers from counterfeiting your brand and informed and loyal customers will always be able to spot which ones are legit and which ones are not.
3. Check your listings regularly.
Your seller central dashboard and reviews/rating section need constant monitoring if you want to stay on top of your listing as this will enable you to spot suspicious activities more quickly and easily. Your focus should be to keep your buy box at all times and ensure that your product appears only in the list that it rightfully belongs to. By doing this, you will be able to spot a hijacker immediately, stopping further damage on your brand or sales from escalating.
What to do if your brand or listing is hijacked?
If after your initial assessment, it seems that your brand is most likely hijacked, here are what you should do:
1. Send the hijacker a cease-and-desist letter. You can do this via the suspected hijacker’s seller profile. In your message, besides the attached cease-and-desist letter, be upfront and ask them to delete their offer or otherwise, they will have to face your legal actions. More often than not, this scares off hijackers far better than leaving them any form of threatening messages.
2. File an official complaint with Amazon. Here, your chances of getting noticed and prioritized by Amazon will depend on whether you are a registered brand owner or not. This is why Amazon’s always put emphasis on the need to enroll your brand in their registry. Nevertheless, you can still complain and possibly gain Amazon’s support as long as you have presented significant proofs against the hijackers.
The perks of having a trademarked/registered brand include being qualified to fill a trademark infringement claim against your suspected hijackers. In this case, all you need to do is formulate a short paragraph indicating the problem and attach the documents or screenshots that will serve as proof of the counterfeit. Also, do not forget to mark it as urgent. More often than not, Amazon will respond with a solution after a couple of days.
While Amazon is committed to addressing such complaints, they typically take longer to respond. Because of this, experts advise victims to follow the cease-and-desist letter approach to scare off hijackers while waiting. Somehow, it might be able to fast-track the process.
The Last Resort
If after sending the letter and filing a complaint to Amazon, your hijacker neither seems taunted nor affected, proceed to your last resort, i.e. framing them up by pretending as a customer to their product listing. Once you have received the counterfeit items, take pictures, and do all means to prove that the items are indeed fake or counterfeit. From there, your case will have more chances of thriving.