Third-party sellers account for over half of all sales on Amazon. By helping third-party sellers like you succeed, they ultimately help themselves and their reach.
Nite Ize, the company behind Steelies phone mounts, is one such third-party seller that found itself counterfeited.
One day, they logged into Amazon to find that they lost the buy box. If you've been in their shoes, your Amazon store became “one of the sellers” on a listing you dreamed about, worked on, and invested in for months.
Nite Ize didn't take that well. Neither did Amazon.
PYMNTS reports, "Along with Boulder-based company Nite Ize, a maker of specialty lights and phone mounts under the STEELIE brand, [Amazon] filed a lawsuit on [June 26] in a Seattle federal court, accusing a group of counterfeiters of selling fraudulent Nite Ize products."
You read that right. E-commerce giant, Amazon, joined Nite Ize in chasing after counterfeiters in court!
Here's why: If a customer thinks Amazon is a free-for-all for harboring trademark thieves and knockoffs, they might leave the platform!
And Amazon is not having that.
Amazon is protecting their brand by helping protect third-party brands.
But, Seth, I hear you saying, they’re not protecting my brand right now!
I hear you, warrior! You want the product that you spent months choosing, developing, sourcing, and branding to turn into a brand that people love and talk about.
It’s easy to think Amazon doesn't give two pence about counterfeiters selling knock offs of your product. Honestly, their customer interaction and protections need serious revamping!
- They are way too lenient with hijackers. They should have a software that filters out illegal hijackers from legitimate resellers.
- They have this ridiculous system of "guilty until proven innocent".
- In their efforts to wipe out the bad actors, they have locked out a lot of innocent sellers too.
But if you think Amazon will sue your counterfeiters for you, you're living in the wrong world.
If you decided to "give it a go" on Amazon and make some easy money, you are nothing to Amazon.
Technically, the contract the seller signs dictates that the customers belong to Amazon. (Yes, you can still get the customer's name and email and use other strategies we teach Just One Dime members.)
Then why sell on Amazon? Well, you want to make money, don't you?
Jeff Bezos can't gruel over every seller making sure that they in particular are doing okay. It is going to be humanly impossible to create that level of care.
So, what are you going to do if you are Amazon? You can't do nothing. Amazon’s brand does take a hit when knockoffs of popular brands can be found on its digital aisles.
You're going to make a system that honors the customers the most. Sellers will follow the customer. As a seller, you have to enter and play the game where the customers are at, whether all the seller protections are there or not. It doesn't matter if Amazon cares. What matters is what you do about it.
You have to be willing to take the lead on defending your company yourself.
So, what is Nite Ize doing that most third party sellers are not?
This is not a family-owned Mom and Pop shop where cousin Brady comes in to help for a day just because.
They took responsibility to build a brand the public loves. That's why Amazon cared. They made the public care.
But it didn't end there. They didn't throw their hands in the air and say, "Amazon fix it!" They are going after the counterfeiters—and not just people in the good ol' US of A, but in China too!
For some reason, a lot of people enter the Amazon business with the idea that Amazon is responsible for all their problems. Amazon is not your local policeman.
If you can prove that Amazon customers will be up in arms—even enraged—over counterfeit knock-offs, then Amazon will beckon when you whistle.
Keep grinding, keep optimizing, and keep going until your customers are so vocal about your brand that the idea of counterfeits could make them leave Amazon for an independent site!
Why on earth would Amazon shoppers be up in arms unless you built a brand?
What has Amazon done?
- Project Zero is an opportunity to remove bad actors yourself.
- Brand Transparency—where every product has its own code on it so no one can sell a piece of product unless they own that code.
So what should you do in the meantime?
Take action! Amazon’s changes are in your favor, but don’t wait for them to rescue you. This is your business. Did you put so much into this game just to lose out to some pretender who can copy/paste?
This is how you start defending yourself:
Find the most obscure suppliers for your product.
If it means digging through Alibaba for months, believe me when I say it’s worth it! The harder a supplier is to find, the less likely it is that someone will approach them asking for a product to compete with yours.
Student-turned-coach Emily Davcev found the only supplier that made her product, and today she’s raking in the rewards hand over fist!
Differentiate the heck out of your stuff.
Before the Snuggie came out, there were hundreds of ways to keep warm. But was there any such thing as a blanket with sleeves? Exactly!
They found a deep niche, made their ads as sticky as possible, and patented the fleece out of their design so they’d have all the protection they needed. Speaking of...
Trademark your brand.
A trademark claim, using the superscript ™, scares off floods of would-be copy-catters. A registered trademark with the ® has been filed and approved through the US government for one and only one company to use for profit, meaning the protection goes deeper.
Why get a trademark? It shows competitors you’re serious. Scavengers scare off easily because they’re built for the easiest targets. 🐺 Sounds like a nature show, but it’s also true in the business world!
Leverage cease and desist letters.
Is stopping counterfeiters really as simple as sending an email? Sometimes!
Again, because they’re not targeting fighters, the copycats really can be shooed away with a firmly worded email. It doesn’t need to be branded, have harsh language, or even be a physical letter! 📧
But if that doesn’t work—
Hire a lawyer and go after them.
If a counterfeiter won’t back off, it’s time to get the law involved. Law offices are popping up all over the USA to address this growing need in the Amazon seller market.
But Seth, I hear some of you say, I can't afford it. I had to stop saying that when I set out, $24,000 in debt, and decided I could build a multi-million dollar businesses off of a single dime.
Remember, this is your empire at stake. If you gave birth to the baby, why would you not protect the baby? You are the first line of defense that has to take it to the doctor. It can't get there on its own. If you believe in it, and it's precious to you, go as far as it takes. It will pay off in the end.