As a successful Amazon seller, I know just how damaging unauthorized resellers can be for your brand. That‘s why I want to share the biggest warning signs I‘ve learned to spot these bad actors – and proven strategies to get them removed.
Let‘s get right to it: here are the 7 telltale signs of an unauthorized Amazon seller.
The 7 Telltale Signs of Unauthorized Amazon Sellers
1. No Written Authorization to Sell Your Products
Any legitimate reseller or distributor should have written permission from your brand to sell your products. Lack of authorization is a huge red flag. I require all resellers to show a copy of written approval to avoid issues.
2. Odd or Unrelated Seller Names
Shady sellers often use random, peculiar business names to sell your products while avoiding detection. For example, I‘ve seen sellers use names like "TotallyLegitProducts" or "123BestBuy". Watch out for any names intended to copy your real brand too.
3. Very Limited or Missing Seller Information
Scant seller info, especially lack of any contact details, is very common among unauthorized resellers trying to be anonymous. This level of opacity is a major concern.
4. Unusually Low Pricing on Your Products
Deeply discounted pricing can signify counterfeit products. Illegitimate sellers tend to undercut prices hoping buyers focus on the deal rather than authenticity.
5. Fake or Improperly Used ASINs
Fraudsters have been known to create fake ASINs to conceal counterfeit products. But also watch for your ASINs used improperly, like for wrong products.
6. Unusually Large Inventory of Your Products
Having a massive inventory of your products can mean the seller acquired them from unauthorized distributors or sources. Legitimate sellers tend to have smaller, controlled inventories.
7. Suspicious Review Patterns
Look out for odd review activity like hundreds of 5-star ratings in a few days. This can suggest paid or fake reviews posted by illegitimate sellers or their cohorts.
So those are my top 7 warning signs to catch unauthorized Amazon sellers in action early. But why does it matter so much?
The Severe Dangers of Unauthorized Sellers
Based on my experience in brand protection, unauthorized resellers can seriously jeopardize your Amazon business. Here are some of the biggest risks:
- Torched Reputation: Shoddy counterfeits or expired products from shady sellers can destroy your brand‘s reputation and loyalty. I‘ve seen customer complaints skyrocket.
- Devalued Brand: By undercutting your prices substantially, these sellers can distort your brand value perception and established price points. This damages your profitability.
- Safety Hazards: Inferior quality products put customers at risk and expose your brand to legal liability. I‘ve seen brands get sued over unauthorized sellers‘ actions.
- Billions in Lost Revenue: Counterfeits and piracy cost brands up to $98 billion in global lost sales annually, per a 2016 Frontier Economics report.
Clearly, allowing unauthorized sellers to operate can cripple your brand. So what should you do if you spot any?
How to Report Unauthorized Sellers on Amazon
If you uncover unauthorized sellers of your products, report them to Amazon ASAP to get their listings deleted. Here is exactly how to do it:
- Sign into your Seller Central account
- Go to the Amazon Brand Registry website
- Click Protect and select Report a violation
- Choose the marketplace and enter the ASIN that has unauthorized sellers
- Click Show offers and select the specific seller(s) to report
- Provide details like your contact info and evidence of unauthorized sales
- Submit the complaint
I recommend gathering evidence like screenshots of listings as well as test buys. The more proof you have, the faster Amazon will act against these sellers.
After reporting, email Amazon to follow up – and keep flagging new listings as they pop up. Persistence pays off.
Now let‘s get into how to remove unauthorized sellers more permanently.
5 Proven Ways to Remove Unauthorized Sellers
Simply reporting unauthorized sellers often doesn‘t stop them for good. Here are my best tips for getting infringing sellers removed and preventing their return:
1. Send Cease and Desist Letters
Draft up official cease and desist letters demanding all unauthorized sellers immediately stop selling your products. Be firm and outline potential legal action if they continue. Make sure to send these via certified mail.
2. File IP Complaints
If unauthorized sellers ignore your letters, submit official intellectual property complaints to Amazon. Provide evidence of your trademark ownership and examples of active infringement.
3. Become a Restricted Brand
Consider registering as a "restricted" brand on Amazon, requiring all sellers get approval to sell your products. This makes it much harder for unauthorized sellers to sneak in.
4. Boost Your Product Listings
Create unique, detailed listings that make it more difficult for shady sellers to copy your content. Comprehensive copy also helps guide buyers to your real listings.
5. Leverage Amazon Brand Registry
Enroll in Amazon Brand Registry to access special tools like enhanced monitoring and bulk reporting to proactively catch infringers faster.
I also recommend working with an experienced brand protection agency. They can save you time by handling takedowns and protecting your brand‘s interests.
Just How Big is Amazon‘s Counterfeit Problem?
To show why staying vigilant matters so much, let‘s look at some eye-opening statistics:
- Counterfeits make up 1% to 3% of all products sold on Amazon, per an analysis by data firm 3PM.
- Over 40% of Amazon sellers surveyed view counterfeiting and unauthorized resellers as a significant problem.
- About 68% of brands report Amazon counterfeits negatively impact their brand equity and trust.
- 85% of brands say counterfeits on Amazon have damaged their ability to sell there.
- Brands with over $1 billion in Amazon revenue can lose ~25% of that to counterfeits, per a 2018 Wired article.
The scale of this problem shows just how crucial brand protection is on Amazon. Don‘t let unauthorized sellers siphon away your hard-earned sales.
I hope this guide gives you greater confidence in identifying unauthorized Amazon sellers, reporting them swiftly, and protecting your brand‘s integrity.
Here are the key tips to remember:
- Watch for the 7 warning signs like fake reviews and unusual pricing
- Understand the major risks of counterfeits like reputation damage
- Use Brand Registry to easily report infringing sellers
- Take proactive removal measures like cease and desist letters
- Leverage restricted brand status and enhanced listings
- Consider enlisting an expert brand protections agency
By staying vigilant and utilizing these strategies, you can keep your brand‘s reputation and sales safe from unauthorized sellers. Don‘t let counterfeiters take advantage of your success.