What to watch out for when others sell your product on Amazon
Can Amazon help with third-party sellers?
Many manufacturers spend time/resources thinking about the pros and cons of selling their products on Amazon. Those that decide it’s the right time to give it a try usually learn a lot about the platform. This short article is a cautionary tale to those who decide not to sell on Amazon. If your brand decides not to sell on Amazon, there are still a lot of things you need to know about the company/platform. It’s likely your company should be spending resources on Amazon even if YOU are not selling it directly.
Don’t get me wrong: If you’ve decided not to sell on Amazon, I’m not here to change your mind. That being said, you need to learn about Amazon with either decision. They are the undisputed king of online sales and many manufacturers don’t realize that their products are very likely to show up on Amazon even if they don’t sell them directly. When that happens it’s often not even Amazon selling your project. It will probably be one of the tens of thousands of third-party sellers that operate within the Amazon marketplace. All the way back in 2017 third-party vendors were generating more sales than Amazon-proper. To learn more about third-party sellers, read here.
What your need to know when third-party vendors sell on Amazon
This is important to manufacturers because they have little to no control over third-party Amazon sellers that sell their products. Here are a couple important bullet points to be aware of:
- NO CONTROL OVER WHO SELLS YOUR PRODUCT ON AMAZON.
As a manufacturer, you can’t control who sells your products on Amazon (or what their prices are). One solution can be to simply refuse to sell to any wholesalers/distributors/retailers that supply Amazon resellers with your product. Even that solution isn’t bulletproof though. Retail consumers can buy products on sale and sell them through an Amazon store. Learn more about an Amazon Storefront here.
- INACCURATE, UNFLATTERING, OR LEGALLY-COMPROMISING PHOTOS.
Amazon does not extend the manufacturer complete authority to provide positive/accurate photography, product descriptions, etc. Resellers sometimes post unflattering photos of your product, old or even legally compromising packaging (such as old nutritional information), and inaccurate product descriptions. The best solution is to participate in Amazon’s Brand Registry program (below) but it’s not a magic fix. Learn more about Amazon Brand Registry here.
- BAD EXPERIENCE WITH PRODUCT SHIPMENT.
We’ve had multiple clients’ products shipped poorly by Amazon Resellers. One client had an ongoing issue with candy arriving melted. Another has had their glass jars arrive broken multiple times. We’ve also had refrigerated products shipped at room temperature. As you can imagine, this reflects poorly on the product, negative reviews are posted on Amazon and the manufacturer, who had nothing to do with the sale, gets the complaints.
- MULTIPLE LISTINGS = DIFFICULTY WITH CLEAN-UP.
Although officially a product is only supposed to have a single listing on Amazon (even when there are multiple sellers), it is very common for each reseller to set up its own listing with its own Amazon ID number (ASIN). This can make it very challenging to clean up poor/inaccurate listings because you then need to convince Amazon to combine multiple listings into one.
- YOUR PRODUCT, STILL NO SAY.
Amazon’s Brand Registry program is set up to allow manufacturers to prove to Amazon that they are authoritative and gives their change requests to Amazon more weight than sellers or consumers. That’s the theory anyway. In reality, it’s not a simple fix. I’ve seen examples of non-manufacturers given Brand Registry status leaving the actual manufacturer locked out. Even once brand registry status is awarded, Amazon always has the final say about all listings and is under no obligation to make changes that a manufacturer requests.
- AMAZON MANUFACTURER CUSTOMER SERVICE IS FRUSTRATING.
Amazon deliberately builds its company processes for its own efficiency, not yours. Their processes can make it difficult/impossible to communicate directly with a human being that has the authority to resolve manufacturer issues. Most issues must be resolved by filling out online forms, often when you are not even sure which form to fill out. The answers can be non-sequitur and are rarely produced by native English-speaking staff.
The good news is that it is possible to resolve these issues. Success usually comes from a mix of hard-won experience and dogged determination. If you have the time and patience you can probably work your way through these issues eventually. If you are busy running your business and can’t stay on top of your Amazon battles, marketing companies like ours can help. Contact us here.