The Amazon Counterfeit Epidemic And The Impact On Amazon Third Party Sellers

If you have been following the news, you would have seen a few articles like this:

http://fortune.com/2017/03/21/amazon-counterfeit/

http://marketingland.com/amazon-says-opening-brand-registry-program-next-month-fight-counterfeit-products-209937

If you have been selling for any length of time, you know that Amazon has been cracking down on counterfeit products and the sellers of these products. They have rolled out such programs as the “gating” of certain categories, restrictions of certain brands, and even the suspension of seller accounts over inauthentic product claims.

Sellers have felt like this:

 

For those of you who aren’t aware, that’s the old school Windows Minesweeper game.

But in all seriousness, sellers have been a little freaked out.

And then we see something like this:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-counterfeit-idUSKBN16S2EU

Amazon is once again expanding their brand registry program and focusing on removing counterfeit sellers from the marketplace.

That should be extremely great news for sellers and buyers, but we run into one major issue:

The counterfeit claim process is not clear. Amazon operates under the notion that the customer is always right.


 

So what does that mean for us as Amazon sellers?

It means that we need to shift our focus to the customer experience.

Well what does that mean Chris?

It’s actually pretty simple. Customers only complain when they have had a bad customer experience. Although we can’t control every part of that experience, we can make a significant impact with the tasks we do handle.

Looking at the entire customer experience, we can control certain aspects of the product condition, listing information, price, and customer service.

Let’s look at a few different ways we can improve the customer experience without breaking the bank.

1 – Package and prep products with care.

If you would have received a product from my early days of selling on Amazon, I could 100% understand why you would be upset. I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I had purchased too many products and I had to ship out as many as humanly possible. So if a corner got bent, a sticker didn’t peel off, or something else like that, I still threw (don’t throw stuff – duh) into the box.

I saw the quality and condition of the product as Amazon’s problem once it left my garage.

That’s a really bad idea (Looking back, I was a moron).

You should pack and prep each item as you would like to receive them.

I sit here and imagine what I would have said if I would have received one of the items I personally shipped in.

“WHY IN THE HECK WOULD AMAZON SEND ME SOMETHING LIKE THIS!?!?!” 

And then I think about some of the products that were packed with a little extra care. I remember immediately thinking:

“Wow. This seller cares.”

It’s the same idea that retail stores across the nation have been working with for years. If you have a well packaged product (like Apple), people feel as if they have paid for quality. If you have a bin of discounted DVDs, you wouldn’t be surprised to find a few damaged cases.

Treat each item you ship as you would a gift you would give to someone else. If you wouldn’t give it as a gift, don’t sell it.

2 – Take the time to update product listings.

If I said that I’m selling you a car in great condition and then you actually saw the car and it looks like this:

Wouldn’t you be a little upset?

You would think that I straight up lied to you about the car.

Imagine if you were selling a product that said it was a six-pack and you only sold it as a single unit. If you were to open that box up, you would be upset.

If you are selling a product, take the extra step and update the product listing details to match what you are actually selling.

3 – Understand that high markups result in higher expectations.

If a product is hard to find, the scarcity increases its value. This is a great bonus for us as resellers, but customers can get a little pissy that we are “taking advantage of the situation.”

Being a man of economics, I would be the first to say: That’s just how supply and demand works. 

Hopefully, you have started to realize that our opinions as a seller do not have the same weight as a customer’s opinion.

So….How do we handle this mess?

You need to walk the line between competitive pricing and price gouging.

You shouldn’t leave money on the table, but you should also realize that people expect to find deals on Amazon. Just because you can list something for 2000% profit, doesn’t mean that you should.

Determine a MAX markup and stick with it. That percentage is up to you (and I know this will be one of my most unpopular points in this post).

Getting that extra X% isn’t worth a pissed off customer and losing your account.

4 – Go above and beyond with your customer service.

Have you ever received a message from a customer asking about their package or complaining about something with their purchase?

If you were like me, I would have simply said: “Please contact Amazon customer service for more help.”

Guess what? That doesn’t cut it.

You might think it is part of your job to handle the customer service aspect of the customer experience, but you are mistaken.

If you have an upset customer, take that opportunity to go above and beyond to have them sing your praises.

If you focus on handling your side of the equation, you have ground to stand on with Amazon if there ever was a claim against your account.

And let’s face it: Amazon will continue to evolve and they will continue to put the customer first. 

The quicker we come to terms with that, the better we will be in the long run.

Amazon’s brand registry program is being put into place to protect Amazon and the customer.


This is a complete side note, but during my research of the Brand Registry program, I came across this new program. I haven’t done enough research yet to write about it, but you might want to start getting familiar with it if you are a wholesalers or PL seller.

https://www.amazon.com/b?node=15466573011

CW

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