While this list is by no means comprehensive, here are 7 dirty tricks to watch out for if you’re selling products on Amazon:
1: Other Amazon sellers copying your products
Let’s say you have an online store and/or you have your products on Amazon.
Anyone can copy your photos and product descriptions and place them on Amazon under their own account.
Worse yet, when you contact Amazon to file a complaint, they will require proof and documentation for every single product in dispute. You will have to prove the products are yours before Amazon will take them down.
Your best bet: Contact the pirate seller and politely ask them to remove them. Let them know your next step is contacting Amazon and your lawyer.
2: Copycats who piggy-back
Having your products copied and stolen isn’t all that common. But piggy backing on listings happens all the time, and it works like this:
You sell your own private labeled product under your brand and Amazon product number. Someone else piggy backs your listing by undercutting you on price and shipping a counterfeit item.
This hurts your brand three times over.
First, you’ve lost a sale that should have been yours.
Second, because their knock-off product is likely of lower quality than yours, your brand’s reputation takes a hit. The unhappy customer might leave negative feedback for your product even though they received a counterfeit product from someone else.
Third, if you get enough negative reviews, your product can drop into oblivion in Amazon’s search results.
To fight back, pose as a customer and purchase the product yourself. Then you can file a complaint against the fraudulent seller. Just know that Amazon moves slowly and this resolution process takes time.
3: Buying you out
You get an order for ALL of your inventory of a particular item. Someone else then gets the buy box because you have no inventory. A few weeks later, this mystery buyer returns the big purchase they made. You’ve lost sales for those weeks that you had no inventory, plus you made no money on that big sale.
Here’s what to do: If you get a large order, use extreme caution. If you’re fulfilling orders yourself, check up and see if this order appears genuine.
Contest any large return complaints with Amazon.
Realize that Chinese sellers are using automated software that keeps buying your stock and then cancelling the orders in bulk. You go out of stock in no time and your listing is basically destroyed. Don’t get complacent: Keep an eye on your listings at all times.
4: Switching out your photo(s)
If you haven’t registered your brand with Amazon (which requires a trademark) then be careful of other sellers changing out the photos in your listing.
Another seller might switch your picture to a completely different product. Then when customers buy from you, they complain that the product they received does not match the photo.
What to know: Amazon does NOT send you a notification when pictures are changed, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on your listings.
5: Leaving false negative feedback on your products
Just as there are people who will leave positive feedback for a fee, there are also people who get paid to leave negative feedback. And while Amazon is getting better at detecting false feedback, it still happens with alarming frequency.
The hardest false feedback to detect are reviews left by actual buyers. That’s why a competitor will pay people to buy your product first and then leave a negative review. These false reviews often claim that your product is a counterfeit or fake, two things that real reviews almost never say.
When Amazon’s bots detect these trigger words of ‘bootleg,’ ‘counterfeit’ and ‘fake,’ they immediately ding your account which hurts your product’s visibility.
If you receive negative feedback of any sort, address it immediately. Be extremely professional and polite, and show that you will do anything and everything to make the problem right.
Amazon records all conversations and this will help you tremendously should your ever get suspended.
6: Leaving false positive reviews on your products
Only a crook or evil genius would think to hurt their competitors by leaving positive reviews.
Amazon has been doing a better job of cracking down on sellers who buy positive reviews. They even have algorithms in place that detect unusual spikes in positive reviews and will instantly suspend an account if they think the reviews are fake.
Enter your competitor who hires a service to leave 50 five-star reviews for you overnight. The next morning you get up to find your Amazon account is suspended for suspicious activity while you had absolutely nothing to do with it.
This one is difficult to overcome because how do you prove that you weren’t the one instigating the sudden influx of positive reviews?
7: Sellers trademarking your Amazon account name
Most full-time sellers on Amazon trademark their brand name so they can enroll in Amazon’s brand registry.
But many sellers don’t take this step, preferring to avoid the hassle of trademarking.
For example, maybe your Amazon account is called Big Dog Enterprises. And under Big Dog you sell 2 different brands, Blue Dog and Pink Dog. Most sellers will trademark Blue Dog and Pink Dog, but they don’t bother trademarking Big Dog.
This leaves the door open for a malicious seller to trademark Big Dog and then completely take over Pink Dog and Blue Dog.
And when this person has trademarked your account name and registered it with Amazon, he can kick you off your own listing and take full control of your account.
I hope I haven’t scared you completely away from selling on Amazon. It can still he incredibly lucrative, but you do have to use utmost caution not to get scammed as a seller. Do your research, take extra precautions when necessary, and do everything you can to bullet proof your business from unscrupulous sellers.
Most of all, never put all of your eggs in the Amazon basket. You don’t own Amazon and you can be banned at any time for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
Spend a portion of your time building your own platform and store. Steer clear of super competitive products because they tend to attract the worst of the diabolical Amazon sellers. Build your own brand. And as always, build your own audience of subscribers and customers.