Unauthorized selling is a bane to both Amazon and its first-party vendors. Third-party sellers can undermine brand messaging and curated customer experiences.
To help combat this, Amazon started charging third-party sellers a fee of up to $1,500 for each popular brand they sell. The fee applies to a list of select brands, which includes big names like Nike, Hasbro, and Dove.
Currently, only new merchants are subject to the Amazon seller fees; Amazon anticipates the fees will help reduce counterfeiting, expired items, and unlawful arbitrage.
How Resellers Can Erode the Brand Experience
As an Amazon vendor, you likely spend a lot time and resources to create branded customer experiences on the site. (If not, you should.) But with Amazon’s current system, brand control is weakened by third-party sellers who peddle knock-offs or unapproved items. Some offer poor, inaccurate, or no product content, even if they’re authorized to resell the goods.
A recent Seattle Times’ article says the new Amazon seller fees come with “other moves by Amazon to mold the disparate array of vendors using its site into leaner, meaner selling machines indistinguishable from its own retail unit.”
An Amazon spokesperson also told the Times they want customers, “to shop with confidence on Amazon. We consider several factors when determining qualifications and criteria to sell certain products. For certain products and categories, Amazon requires additional performance checks, other qualification requirements, and fees.”
How Does Third-Party Selling Effect the Customer Experience?
Take a look at this less-than-ideal Adidas product page. Depending on the size and model chosen, the Adidas page mixes together various seller and vendor options.
Scroll down to where the A+ content is placed and you’ll see little more than a few images. The biggest error of this page is the lack of good, reliable product info or a compelling brand experience.
The jumble of sellers and vendors, poor content, and lack of brand consistency lowers consumer confidence in the shopping experience. Adidas understood this back in 2013, when they tried to ban third-party sellers on sites like Amazon and Ebay. Our example product page example above goes to show how difficult it can be to make some of these changes in today’s ecommerce world.
Control Your Brand Presence Online
Policing knock-offs and unauthorized sellers on the world’s largest ecommerce site is an ongoing challenge. This is a problem for large manufacturers, but even smaller brands are feeling the pain.
What can you do to protect your brand?
- Get on Amazon. If you’re a large brand, chances are good your products are already being peddled on the platform. Get ahead of the third-party sellers by becoming a vendor on the site.
- Create good content. On Amazon, only vendors are allowed to create enhanced content. This gives you the opportunity to take control of your product messaging. Develop the best A+ content you can to help ensure your customers have an excellent, branded shopping experience, whether they’re hitting your, on your reseller’s, buy button.
- Use Amazon’s legal avenues to help control your brand messaging. The site’s “Brand Gating” program, for example, is taking steps to protect brands from counterfeiting and other unauthorized selling by implementing fees and an approval process.