Don’t Fall for Common Unauthorized Seller Tricks!
Are you looking for brand enforcement tips? Here’s a good one that isn’t so well known:
First, you need to think like an unauthorized seller. If you don’t have any ethics, why would you share 50% of the Buy Box when you can get 90%? Well, that’s what many unauthorized sellers do. Amazon has a very, very strict rule: the same seller cannot sell the same listing under multiple Amazon accounts. If you violate that rule, you’re done. Your account is suspended. But that doesn’t stop some of these sellers.
They open dozens of Amazon accounts, using dozens of business checking accounts under a multitude of LLC names, which in some states you can get online for $50 in less than an hour. They then begin the process of category ungating, using forged invoices (easily done with Photoshop or even MS Paint).
Why Do They Try to Hack the Buy Box?
The Buy Box process is very simple. The lowest FBA price gets the Buy Box (and nowadays Seller Fulfilled Prime is eligible as well). If two or more sellers have the same price, they split the Buy Box 50/50 traffic-wise (if there are 3 sellers then 33/33/33, etc.), rather than sales-wise, although the sales balance themselves out over time. You will always see many sellers at the same low price since they are using automatic price matching. They prefer to price match, because automatic price decreases, even by 0.01, lead to a race to the bottom and it is always better to share a loaf of bread rather than have none at all.
Often, when you see a popular listing with 10 FBA sellers sharing the Buy Box, it is not uncommon for 5-9 of them to be the same seller under multiple accounts, especially if it is a top-selling listing. Now how do you identify these sellers? It’s important to know if your brand has 10 violators or 2. Big difference in work load.
So What Can I Do to Enforce Them?
There are a couple ways to identify them. The quickest way is to click on their profile and look at their other listings. Amazon automatically sorts their other products by top-selling, so these sellers will often sell the same top products on multiple accounts; they are too lazy to mix up the accounts with different products or else have way too many products to organize this. So when you see 8 accounts sharing the Buy Box on a certain brand of lipstick, and also sharing a Buy Box on a bundle of batteries (a totally different brand or category), chances are you just spotted one person or distributor with multiple accounts.
Your best weapon is the amount of work they have to do to hide themselves. If you have 10,000 products on 3 different Amazon accounts, it’s difficult to track them unless you have many employees doing the grunt work. Let’s consider a hair dryer with 40 sellers with a Buy Box price of $29.95. On the 2nd page of sellers we might find 3 different FBA sellers with a price of $42.37. What are the odds that 3 different sellers have the same awkward price that has no chance of getting a sale? What you are seeing is one person or distributor who set the same minimum price on his automatic price matching on all 3 accounts, and due to the sheer number of products he has for sale, forgot about or never noticed that he no longer has the Buy Box on this item. Check the other products on these accounts and you’ll find that they share hundreds of the same listings and brands.
Once you’ve identified these sellers, contact Seller Performance on Amazon and let them know. They might not do anything for a while, but you might be surprised months later when all the accounts suddenly have no products for sale! If these are unauthorized sellers or MAP violators, you have just dealt a death blow to their business for a long time.
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