Posts in Seller Central

Amazon Scams: How to Spot Them and How to Stop Them

April 15th, 2019 Posted by Amazon, Brand Management, Scams, Seller Central 0 thoughts on “Amazon Scams: How to Spot Them and How to Stop Them”

With over 6 million sellers and accounting for nearly half of the online retail market, Amazon has grown too big to ignore. People are taking advantage of its size and of you: the customer. With so many products and sellers to sift through, it becomes a challenge to spot the scams before they happen. The balancing act of buying from the most reputable seller, with the highest quality product, at the lowest price is all a guessing game. Then you get your package, or maybe you don’t, and only then do you know if you made the right call. Thanks to the effort of Amazon, fellow sellers, and the unfortunate victims or scams, identifying a scam before becoming their next victim has gotten just a little bit easier.

Unauthorized Sellers

Big brands sell their products to carefully selected distributors and stores, but once it’s on the market it’s basically fair game. If a distributor offers a big sale or even if it’s Black Friday at Walmart, anyone can get their hands on a product at a discounted price to turn around and resell it at a higher price. The issue here is that any average Joe can stockpile a bunch of bulk buys in his garage and list it online.

This is one of the biggest obstacles for fellow sellers who have received authorization from the brand, or often are the brand themselves, because these sellers compromise the brand integrity. They often undercut MAP, don’t adhere to the storage or packaging guidelines, steal the sales of reputable rule-following sellers, and cause bad reviews on what were once well ranked, successful listings.

These sellers evade legal action under the first sale doctrine which basically says anyone has the right to buy and resell a product. Brands can overcome this legal loophole by trademarking not just the product, but the way the product is handled. When a rogue seller pops on with their unauthorized inventory, the threat of legal action is much more real if they can’t adhere to the handling trademark. This helps prevent you from receiving someone’s garage inventory that’s see who knows what kind of exposure and elements.

Counterfeit Products

When purchasing a product on Amazon, typically the buy box is devoted to a seller with a combination of the best price, most convenient shipping, and a solid reputation. But sometimes merchant sellers with low or no reviews will discount the prices so low that they get the buy box by default. The question often is, how can these sellers afford to sell and ship the items as such a low price?

The answer: it’s not always the product that you think it is. These scam sellers can launch their account and within just a couple days, they have hundreds or thousands of listings. Their prices are unbeatable, enticing the customer and jeopardizing the brand’s integrity. Then the consumer receives a product that they really didn’t want. By the time consumers and Amazon catch on to the scam, the seller has likely already made several sales, lots of money, and they’re gone in the wind.
It’s safest to beware the “Just Launched” Seller. Sure, everyone has to get their start somewhere, and often new sellers will discount products to grab initial attention and begin building sales. But as always, it’s too good to be true, it often is. If a seller has just launched, doesn’t have any reviews, and offers a popular brand’s product in new condition at an unreasonable price, you can bet it’s a scam.

No Show Packages

The biggest drawback to purchasing products online as opposed to in person is the lack of personal guarantee. In a store you can see and hold the product, ensuring its authenticity and that it is, in fact, there. Any time you purchase something online you’re risking the guarantee that you would get from that personal experience, but it’s a gamble we’re often willing to take for reduced prices and increased convenience.

So, what about when you take the chance and the product just isn’t there? You don’t receive a counterfeit item or the wrong item. It’s not damaged or broken. It just never arrives. Much like counterfeit items, these listings are often owned by just launched sellers who have tons of available products, generate sales quickly, and then disappear.

Amazon has started beating these sellers to the punch by requiring legitimate tax identity information. This verifies the authenticity of the account and holds the seller responsible for their account’s performance. They have also tackled security look holes that were previously abused by scam sellers. This all makes it more challenging for someone to use fraudulent or stolen information, but still it’s not impossible.

Stick to the Site

Possibly the biggest red flag of all the scams out there is when a seller asks you to contact them outside of the site. Reports have been made of high dollar items at heavily discounted rates being sold by scam sellers. On the listing there will be information that requests you to email the seller outside of Amazon to purchase the product. They receive an email response with an Amazon logo from what appears to be an Amazon email address. The email has a link for you to purchase the product, enter in all your card information, and now you’re waiting for your package. But it never comes.

What makes this so much more stressful that fraudulent accounts on Amazon is that Amazon cannot help you in this situation. They have no record of your transaction because it happened outside of their website. They can’t issue a refund or resend the product. You just lost your money.

Amazon typically does a good job policing content on their listings and flagging certain wording that would request you to contact or purchase from another site, but consumers must remember that most of their systems are automated. If a scammer creates a listing from scratch, it’s easier for them to control the content without alerting Amazon or other sellers. Scams are also orchestrated from a human level, so it comes down to the human brain versus an algorithm, and the human brain will always find a loophole. The best rule of thumb is to only purchase from the Amazon website, verify the URL address bar, and don’t correspond off the website.

Trust Your Gut

The first step to protecting yourself from scams is knowing how the scammers target consumers and carry out their scams. Knowing the issues that other consumers have already faced can help you protects yourself in the future from fraudulent listings and dishonest sellers. While Amazon and authentic sellers are working together to get scams shut down before they can even begin, there will still be some that slip through the cracks. It’s important for you to be vigilant, as well. Remember to scout thoroughly, checking reviews on both the seller and product level. Do not purchase products from an Amazon listing outside of the Amazon market place. And as always, trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

Amazon Vendors Pressured onto Seller Central: An Unexpected Shift

March 8th, 2019 Posted by Amazon, Brand Management, Seller Central 0 thoughts on “Amazon Vendors Pressured onto Seller Central: An Unexpected Shift”

Once again, it appears Amazon is pulling the carpet from underneath its vendors in a bold surprise move. While Amazon has not made an official statement, rumors are swirling that Amazon.com, without warning, has stopped purchasing products from many of their wholesalers, instilling fear amongst their vendors. Without any official communication at this time, Amazon vendors have stopped receiving their regularly scheduled POs for the week. As panic sweeps the community, many vendors are turning to forums, community channels, and social media sites in hopes for some form of clarity on the situation. With a clear lack of information from Amazon and reportedly thousands of vendors impacted, the time is now to consult with an Amazon-focused agency.

The abrupt shift from Amazon is a clear attempt to encourage vendors to sell directly on their marketplace, shifting to Seller Central. Amazon, looking at the bigger picture, can now offload the cost of purchasing, shipping, and even storing products. All the while, Amazon can continue to charge suppliers for these services, while also pocketing a commission on every transaction, which is a much more secure strategy. Amazon remains to be buyer-centric. The company is determined to raise profits within its core e-commerce business, even if that means disrupting relationships with its loyal suppliers. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that many suppliers need to source products from manufactures months in advance. Vendors will need to act quickly in shifting to an appropriate sales tactic if the expected orders do not arrive.

CEO Dan Brownsher, of Channel Key, a LA-based e-commerce business, selling more than $100 million of goods on Amazon annually has already spoken out. He states, “If you’re heavily reliant on Amazon, which a lot of these vendors are, you’re in a lot of trouble.” The only related statement to come from Amazon reads, “We regularly review our selling partner relationships and may make changes when we see an opportunity to provide customers with improved selection, value, and convenience.” The company continues to decline specific inquiries on the situation. A lot of the panic was noted at the recent ShopTalk conference that drew in a crowd of over 8,000 retailers in LA. Many vendors have stated that Amazon simply stopped submitting routine orders on a large variety of products, usually without any explanation.

With Amazon’s rapidly evolving platform, it is crucial to choose your Amazon partners wisely. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have all adapted Amazon’s online business model. Amazon will generate e-commerce revenue of $317 billion this year alone. This figure represents 52.4% of all online sales in the U.S, according to EMarketer Inc. With Amazon, once again shifting the marketplace, more vendors will now be forced to sell on the marketplace directly or run into the risk of getting stuck with unsold inventory said the CEO of Marketplace Valet, Will Land.

If you haven’t already done so, put together a contingency plan. Continue to stay cool and go about your business as usual on Vendor Central. Continue promoting, advertising, etc… The goal is and always has been to keep sales momentum steady and ensure a painless transition when a shift occurs. If it is all a little too overwhelming, come talk to us. With our 32 years of experience in the industry, we have the foundation to guide your brand through these troubled waters.

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