Years of complaints by independent sellers who list their products on the third-party Amazon Marketplace are starting to take their toll on the world’s largest online retailer. In February 2018, a news report published by CNBC told the story of a clothing entrepreneur who missed the busy 2017 holiday shopping season due to rampant counterfeiting of her fashion brand. Holly MacLean spent more than eight years building her Wee Urban brand of streetwear garments for toddlers. Things were going along swimmingly for MacLean until she was targeted by Chinese counterfeiters in 2017.
It took less than a year for MacLean’s Amazon sales, which had at one point topped $500K, to fall by more than 80%. After consulting with an attorney about her legal options, she was approached by Amazon to participate in a pilot program to combat counterfeiting and other malicious sales tactics on the third-party marketplace. MacLean is one of the more modest players on this experimental program, which includes major brands such as 3M and even Victorinox, owner of the iconic Swiss Army brand.
The Amazon Gray Market
MacLean is one of many Amazon sellers whose brand has been considerably decimated by the wicked work of counterfeiters, the most pernicious participants of the Amazon gray market, which is essentially an offshoot of the global black market of piracy, trademark infringement, unethical sales, and fake products.
Within the Amazon Marketplace, gray market players also include dropshippers, unauthorized sellers and unethical merchants who willfully violate pricing agreements for their own nefarious gains. In MacLean’s specific case, she did not become aware of counterfeiters targeting her fashion brand until it was too late for her to recover; this is a clear example of why Amazon sellers should be on the lookout for suspicious activity related to their products, especially if they are trademarked and unique in the marketplace.
Signs of Suspicious ASIN Activity
Similar to MacLean, independent Amazon sellers do not realize that they have been targeted by rogue merchants until the signs are distressingly obvious. Aside from a sudden drop in sales, sellers may also notice a sudden flurry of negative reviews. They may also get complaints from buyers that they do not recall selling any items to; these complaints may be related to poor customer service, late deliveries, product quality, or price discrepancies.
For all its vulnerabilities, the Amazon Marketplace offers one important advantage: the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN). When you introduce products that you have either invented, manufactured or branded under your own trademark, each ASIN you’re given can be used to let you know more than just sales performance.
How Brandlox Can Help You Monitor Product ASINS
With a subscription service such as Brandlox, sellers are notified of any ASIN discrepancies such as duplicates, unauthorized sellers, suspicious purchases, pricing violations, bogus negative feedback, and unusual requests to list products that belong to other brands.
Beyond the real-time notifications provided by Brandlox, sellers also have access to tools such as cease-and-desist legal notices and test purchases systems that provide sellers with the evidence that Amazon needs to deal with rogue merchants.
In the end, the last thing you want to see happening to your Amazon account is to go through an ordeal such as MacLean’s. You should not wait on Amazon to develop silver bullet solutions to stop counterfeiters and other e-commerce miscreants. If you have introduced 10 or more new ASINs to the Amazon Marketplace, you should protect your e-commerce venture with Brandlox. Contact us today to learn about our system.