Today, I’m going to give you nine steps to protect your private label Amazon brand from hijackers.
I will also give you a free tool that can help you boot hijackers off your Amazon listing.
How to Fend Off Hijackers:
Hijackers are fraudulent sellers who sell versions of your product on your Amazon product listing. They do so to piggyback off of and/or steal your successes. This allows them to skip the hard work of building a unique product, manufacturing it, creating a product listing on Amazon, advertising that product, etc.
To determine if hijackers are in fact hampering your success, you must first...
1. Check for other sellers on your listing.
You can easily tell if other sellers are selling on your listing (whether they are legitimate sellers or not):
Navigate to your product listing on Amazon.com.
Scroll down the bottom of the buy box.
If you see boxes labeled New & Used (#) from $x and/or Other Sellers on Amazon, other sellers are selling products on your listing.
If you don’t see those options, you’re in the clear 😎.
But if your listing is hosting other sellers, your next step is to determine if they are legitimate or not.
2. Determine the hijackers from the arbitrageurs.
When you click to expand the New & Used (#) from $x and Other Sellers on Amazon sections, you will likely see a combination of three different results:
1. Used products (often in Like New or Very Good condition) sold by Amazon Warehouse: These are the exact same products as the one you sell except for the fact that these items have been damaged, repaired, and re-added to your existing fulfillment center inventory.
Because they’re refurbished, these units sell for less money than the rest of your inventory. Still, when a shopper buys one of these units, you get the revenue.
2. Used products sold by other sellers: These products are likely sold by arbitrageurs—legitimate sellers who buy items and resell them for profit. Arbitrageurs are often mistaken for hijackers, although in most cases their operations are clean.
When arbitrageurs purchase items on Amazon and then resell them on Amazon, they are required to list their items in Used condition since the product is not shipped to customers from the product’s original Amazon seller.
3. New products sold by other sellers: These sellers are likely hijackers who are reselling your products and falsely labeling them as New condition. Alternatively, these sellers might be selling cheap knock offs of your product that could hurt your brand’s reputation.
If you suspect that the other sellers on your listing are hijackers, there is one more check you should use:
Add the other seller’s product to your cart.
Visit your Amazon shopping cart.
Click the quantity dropdown menu and select 10+.
Change the number in the quantity box to 999 and click Update.
Amazon will automatically change 999 to the maximum number of units in that seller’s inventory.
If that seller has more than a handful (think five or more), they are likely a hijacker 😳.
So what can you do?
3. Send a cease and desist letter.
A cease and desist letter informs other sellers that they are not legally allowed to sell on your listing as they have been. It also informs these sellers that you intend to take legal action against them if they do not respond to your requests to remove their products from your listing.
To send one:
Choose either New & Used (#) from $x or Other Sellers on Amazon. Then click the seller’s name next to Sold by.
Select Ask a question.
Select An item for sale.
You will then have a blank box in which you can write your cease and desist letter (up to 4,000 characters).
Grab a copy of our free cease and desist letter that has been proven to work against hijackers at JOD.com/cease.
And just in case the hijacker does not cease…
4. Report the infringers to Amazon.
In order to effectively report a hijacker to Amazon, you should first sample that hijacker’s product. By that I mean order one of the units that hijacker is selling on your listing.
Once you’ve received the shipment, you should be able to discern if the product is indeed yours…or a cheap-o knockoff.
Regardless of who’s product the hijacker’s unit actually is, you will still report the infringement to Amazon by submitting a form to Amazon’s infringement team.
If the hijacker’s product is yours, inform Amazon that:
- The product is not of New condition as the infringer is advertising
- You have not given that seller rights to sell your brand
- That seller cannot meet the warranty or guarantee on the product (if your listing offers one)
If, instead, the hijacker’s product is not yours, inform Amazon that the infringer is selling inauthentic products. Make sure you take pictures of the hijacker’s product versus your own as proof. Include those photos, along with any other documentation, in your report.
One thing to keep in mind as you go through this process is that while Amazon doesn’t want faulty products on their website, Amazon’s biggest concern is the shopper.
When you write your reports, ensure you focus your concern on the negative impacts the hijacker could have on shoppers and their overall Amazon experience. That way, Amazon will be much more likely to take swift action to help protect your brand.
Once you’ve successfully removed hijackers from your listing—or even if you haven’t had to deal with them yet—there are a few measures you can put in place to keep them from coming back.
How to Deter Hijackers:
When it comes to hijackers, the best defense is a strong offense. For private label products, that means designing your product to make hijackers’ jobs difficult before you’ve ever committed to the first manufacturing run of that product.
Inconvenience is a powerful hijacker deterrent. The more difficult it is to replicate and/or obtain your product, the less likely hijackers will be to steal your hard-earned success.
1. Differentiate your product through bundling and personalization.
Differentiation is one of the most powerful ways you can keep hijackers at bay. Differentiation means to make your product unique in one or more ways from your competitors’ products. Your goal should be to create a product that has attributes that similar products do not. And by doing so, you can not only deter hijackers, but you can often sell your product for more money than if you sold a generic version of the same item. Win, win.
You can differentiate your product by personalizing it—adding your brand name to the product and retail packaging.
You might also choose to create a bundled product—a product that includes multiple individual items sold together as one single unit.
Both options require more work on your end, yes. But the more work required to make, and thus duplicate, your product, the less likely hijackers will be to steal your hard work. Afterall, laziness is the name of the hijacker game.
As an added bonus, when you create a highly personalized and/or bundled product, you often have to source parts from multiple manufacturers, which adds another layer of security.
2. Source from multiple manufacturers.
Oftentimes the suppliers you work with to build your product can be legitimate business partners who run a clean operation.
However, it is not unheard of for a supplier to take your differentiated product idea and list your product as their own…on your same Amazon listing, no less. Ouch 😣.
Much in the same way that creating a bundled product with multiple pieces and parts can deter hijackers, creating a product that involves multiple manufacturers is another excellent way to make hijackers’ illicit dealings incredibly difficult.
When you source your product from multiple manufacturers, no one supplier has all the components to your product. This would mean that were one of them to try to copy your product, they would have their work cut out for them.
Again, hard work is not usually why hijackers get into the business.
Even if you were to source products from multiple suppliers and have one supplier assemble all the parts together, that assembling supplier will still have to track down all the pieces and parts.
Sourcing from multiple manufacturers most commonly occurs with bundled products. However, it doesn't have to.
It’s quite common for sellers to build a singular product that requires different components from several different manufacturers and then have their main supplier, who creates the bulk of the product, assemble the finished item.
For example, if you sell a golf bag with wheels, you would source the bulk of the item from a manufacturer proficient in sporting bags and/or luggage. But that manufacturer might not have the capacity to produce parts like a plastic handle or rubber and metal wheels. In that case, you will likely work with multiple suppliers to get each individual component made separately.
3. Add unique offers that other sellers cannot replicate.
Whenever you add or advertise a follow-up value to your product on your listing, you can often easily deter both hijackers and arbitrageurs.
What sort of follow-up value might that be?
- A product warranty
- A product guarantee
- Access to digital content with purchase
If you add a product warranty and/or advertise a special offer with the purchase of your product, no other reseller, legitimate or not, can offer those additions.
By adding these types of offerables to your product, you automatically prohibit others from piggybacking off of your listing because such guarantees can only be offered by the manufacturer, in this case, you.
So even if an innocent arbitrageur buys your product, decides they don’t want it, and lists it on your page, they would be violating Amazon’s policy if your product comes with a warranty, etc.
Including offerables that add value to your product also means you will more likely get backing from Amazon when you report infringers.
4. Register for Amazon’s Brand Registry.
Amazon’s Brand Registry is a powerful tool for sellers.
With it, you can design your product listing to look like its own page on your own, personal website, complete with its own, simplified URL to make your product easier to find. You get more control over the aesthetics of your listing, which can do wonders for your conversions.
Beyond that, Brand Registry gives sellers access to invaluable analytics tools that can help you better reach and understand your ideal customers, and more.
More importantly for our purposes, though, when you are a brand registered seller, Amazon is more likely to back you if and when hijackers strike. Brand registered status can also afford you greater protection against counterfeit products.
Typically, to become brand registered you will need to provide Amazon with product photos, a list of the marketplaces you sell in, and your product category. But you will also need a registered trademark for the marketplace(s) you sell in.
5. File a trademark.
Trademarks can offer your brand immense protection, especially against hijackers and infringers. With a trademark, you can:
1. Send a cease and desist letter with more teeth than one from a non-trademarked brand.
2. Sue hijackers for infringement and have a court order them to cease activity.
3. Request delivery of infringing goods (presumably to destroy them) so that they cannot make their way back onto the market once legal proceedings have wrapped.
4. Request payment for damages from the infringer. In other words, if you lost money due to hijackers selling on your listing, you can legally request that lost revenue from the hijacker.
With a trademark, you will also gain more authority at the ports. If customs officials suspect that another company is trying to import counterfeit versions of your products, they can stop the counterfeits from passing through customs and thus entering the market you sell in.
And since a trademark is a legal entity, Amazon will be much more likely to back you and take action against hijackers on your listing when you report them.
The reality of selling private label products on Amazon is that at some point or another, hijackers will likely try to steal your hard-earned success by piggybacking off of your listing and/or selling cheap knockoffs of your products. However, with the right know-how (and maybe a trademark) you can both deter hijackers from coming after you and put an end to their illegitimate operations when they do.
What we’ve covered today can help you to both deter and remove hijackers selling on your listing. However, the process to get certain protections in place, such as building a totally unique and differentiated product and applying for a trademark (there are several ways), are much more in-depth.
To get the full scoop on finding a high potential product, sourcing that product, making it better, launching your first product, growing your Amazon store, and even more ways to fend off pesky hijackers, visit JOD.com/freedom.
What measures do you put in place to protect your product from hijackers? Let me know in the comments.