Freeing Your Amazon Listings of Hijackers Webinar

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On February 28th, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with CJ Rosenbaum, the Founder of Amazon Sellers Lawyer to talk about how to deal with Amazon listing hijackers. They talked about everything you need to know to know when you have a hijacker, what to do when they steal the Buy Box and how to keep them from getting into your listing in the first place.

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PLAYING KEEP AWAY: GETTING YOUR AMAZON LISTINGS FREE OF HIJACKERS & AHEAD OF COMPETITORS from Andrew Maff

Andrew Maff:                       For everyone who is here, who's joined us already, thank you for coming. Welcome to how we ... how CJ and I, we're going to sit here and walk-through making sure we get rid of some of these hijackers and keep those competitors way, way, way from you on Amazon so that everyone can scale their businesses and slow down all of the trouble that we keep having to deal with. So, I guess, we can introduce ourselves a little bit. Of course, we have a beautiful slide for that. CJ, you want to kick us off?

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Sure, sure. All right. My name is CJ Rosenbaum. I am the founding partner and I have a fantastic partner named Anthony Famularo. Our law firm focuses practically exclusively on Amazon Sellers. About 40% of the practice has nothing to do with the law. It's helping sellers when they get suspended or you lose an ASIN. We have a team over 20 people who do nothing but conference and write plans of action. About 40% are intellectual property suspensions, mostly defending sellers against baseless complaints, and the other 20% has to do with hijackers, and intellectual property rights, and protecting sellers, and private label sellers. As you develop your brands, as you develop your products, you need to know how to protect your listings and your products on Amazon. That's about 20% of what we do and it's growing as Amazon has become a more brand-centric. Our hijacking problem has increased and our expertise in dealing with hijackers has also improved.

Andrew Maff:                       Beautiful. So we take the other approach with that. Andrew Maffettone. I'm with Seller's Choice. We're a full-service e-commerce digital marketing agency. We are aiming at making sure none of that happens in the first place. And then if it does happen, we hand it over CJ. CJ said to help us out. I've been helping out e-commerce for over a decade. I've worked with incredibly small brand new sellers, people who just invented stuff recently and decided to go live, and then I have people who are doing well into eight figures.

So we're a little all over the place on the amount of sellers we work with, but we're big fans of Amazon, and we're always big fans of diversifying so that should you need CJ's services. You are not dependent on just Amazon all the time. You can diversify over to Shopify or to Walmart which is growing more and more. So, we are the two people who will be helping everyone out today. Again, as I mentioned earlier in case you missed it, feel free to submit any questions, any comments throughout. I will be making sure we can get to as many as possible and then, of course, at the end, we're going to have a Q&A where we can try to get to all of them if we can.

We can go ahead and get started here. Obviously, if you're having an issue with hijackers, if you are having an issue with competitors, you are, obviously, in the right place. For those of you who don't know what a hijacker is because I've noticed that some people aren't really familiar with what it is, is essentially when you are a private label seller and someone else gets into the Buy Box and starts selling all your products as well. If they beat you in the Buy Box, you can't run PPC ads, you can't do anything like that, and they have essentially hijacked your listing. That is what a hijacker is. We all know what competitors are. Those are the people that keep stealing up all your market share. CJ, any comments on that?

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Yeah. I mean, even if they're not taking it so they can take over the Buy Box, they're taking sales away from you and that's vital to keep your sales. Oftentimes, they're also delivering garbage products with your name or even without your name, something that looks and feels similar, and you'll get charged with the bad review for the product itself. So there's a lot of things you need to worry about. One, it's the loss sales, two is the Buy Box, three is just ... everything is consumer-centric now. I mean, Bezos is a genius, good, bad, and ugly. He's a freaking genius to develop this incredible focus on the consumer.

So if your consumers are expecting your product and they're getting a hijackers product instead, that's really, really bad for you, and your brand, and you're listing because those bad reviews, that bad feedback will ignore to your harm. So, it's really important to keep an eye on them. It's really important to address them, not just for today's sales but for the longevity of your account, and for your product line.

Andrew Maff:                       As I mentioned at the end, we'll have a Q&A. So I'm going to try to get two questions throughout because I know sometimes you just ... you want an answer and you want an answer now, but we're going to do what we can to make sure we answer everything as we go along. And then, of course, at the end, I have a little giveaway. We'll be doing some stuff, some great e-books and things that I just put up a link for you, guys, so go ahead, grab it. So, towards the end, don't go anywhere. We'll answer as many questions as we can. We're going to touch first on hijackers. So, going into this, we talked about what a listing hijacker is which we just discussed two seconds ago. I could have waited but, hey, we're here now.

So, if you have multiple sellers in the Buy Box, that's typically how you will know. But we'll actually touch a little bit later in how you can find these hijackers, and how you can kind of get warnings if someone is in the Buy Box, and someone is now hijacked your listing in which case, you have all the issues that CJ and I just discussed. Sorry, just ... there we go. This is what I've used in the past to get some alerts for hijackers. So Sellics, sellics.com, good friend of ours. Franz Jordan over there is the CEO. It's a great piece of software that a lot of sellers have been using.

One of my favorite things for hijackers though is you can set an alert to get an email either daily, or weekly, or monthly. If you have a lot of SKUs, you might want to do daily so that you're on top of thing. But it will send you an email and let you know how many people have hijacked your listing if any at all. So that way, you don't have to go through each individual SKU, and each ASIN, and figure out if someone's in your listing because you have a lot of ASINs that can take a ton of time. Luckily, Sellics has this great tool where they'll just email you and let you know so you don't have to go hunting for everything. So, the slide didn't change. Come on.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Hey, as long as it's stuck on the slide for a bit, I would recommend you do it daily, okay, because you never know when the problem is going to arise. When hijackers show up, it's just the first time, so while you may not really have a significant problem now, you never know when that tipping point is going to be and, all of a sudden, your hijacking problem is going to cascade. So, even though it's adding a little bit more to your plate every day, set it for daily and get that list, so it'll also then feed into either you doing it manually, having a firm like us handle it for you, or if you have 2.0, your brand registry 2.0, it'll help you use the tools there to start sending out the cease and desist notices saying, "Hey, you're not selling our product. It's counterfeited. Its lower quality doesn't come with our warranty." So I would recommend Sellics. It's terrific. Set it for daily and start getting those reports now because you never know when that cascade is going to begin.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah. Very good point. Another thing that we always do to make sure we kind of ... have as much in place as possible to keep the hijackers away before they even start is to clearly differentiate your product. If your packaging or anything like that has very clear branding on it, they won't be able to sell your product. If they do and they are still able to get the listing, when a customer receives your product, they will see that the packaging isn't accurate. They will just assume they got the wrong product and they'll send it back. It can help from deterring negative customer reviews if you weren't able to catch that hijacker in the first place.

Obviously, trademarking your brand, there's a ton of extra stuff you can get from brand registry. It opens up headline ads. It opens up enhanced brand content, but all of these things really allow you to be able to fight ... getting a hijacker into your listing without your approval which I'm sure-

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Let me ... can I jump in?

Andrew Maff:                       Yes, please.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Also, as you differentiate your product with your packaging, your inserts, your mark, you also might want to start looking down the road a bit, okay, because just like your product can be counterfeited so can your packaging, so Wayne Gretzky, the great ... the great one in hockey, right? He was great because he knew where the puck was going like not where it's been but where it's going to be. You may want to start looking for ... okay, how am I going to repackage my product a year from now or eighteen months from now so that if there are ... you're shipping 10,000 units to Amazon and only log in 9,000. Those 1,000 units are going to be someplace and that's also potential for Amazon to hijack your listing, okay, or for other sellers to buy it through liquidation.

So you may want to sort of planning your own planned obsolescence, right, so you know right now that you have great packaging, you've got your trademark worked and you're safe, but you're planning on changing it 18 months from now. This works tremendously well in health and beauty, and they don't do it for this reason, but when someone gets a new beautyblender sponge, or a lipstick, or a gloss, or a lotion and the packaging is from 2016, that consumer is upset. That's a really good tool to have to knock them off your listing. So it's really important. The differentiation is vital. Trademark is vital. You also may want to look down the road at how you can change in the future as you lose control even if it's slight of your product, of your distribution.

Andrew Maff:                       Exactly. So, moving forward, one of the things we touch as well is to take screenshots which sounds ridiculous. But if you actually take a screenshot of your listing, and you take a screenshot of the Buy Box, and you can prove that you have all of this, and that you have owned it, you now have the proof that someone shouldn't have been in your listing in the first place. As soon as your listing is live and it's exactly the way you want it, take a picture of the listing, take a picture of your Buy Box, put it in a file somewhere. It can't hurt. That way, when you have someone who hijacked your listing, it's incredibly simple, and quick, and easy for Amazon to just be like, "Yeah, they shouldn't be in there," and take them out instead of having a long process of trying to figure out how to prove that they shouldn't be in there and that they're not selling your product, et cetera, especially if you don't have trademark.

And then, of course, one of our favorite ways is to create your own website. If you have the branding and you have the proof of your own site, Amazon will actually take a lot of that to account. In fact, a lot of our sellers, when we do listing optimization, I think, for them sometimes when we're asking to add things to their bullet points and we request a change, they require you to have that on your site, on the product page as well. So you need to have it cohesive across every brand that you have and they'll cross every marketplace that you have so you can prove it's your brand and there's no differences between the two products that you've listed.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Also, when it comes to trademarking, if you haven't done it, go on the USPTO, okay, uspto.gov. The application is not difficult. We do it as a service for our clients. We don't charge a lot for it, but it's something that sellers can really do themselves. And then if you have a problem, if you have an office action, or there's some disputes or application and you can reach out to us, but if you haven't filed for your mark ... file for your mark, it's really easy, it's really cheap, and you can do it yourself. So, you have your brand trademark 100%, take screenshots 100%, create your website. If you have not done your trademark, just give it a shot. It's not a big deal to do yourself.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah. All right. So, the next slide we have here, which giving me trouble again, is attacking competitors. But before we go on there, we had a bunch of questions on hijackers, so we can kind of touch on these while I fix this problem again. So, Wrap It asked, "I had a talk with seller executive some time back and he said, 'Amazon is open platform and you or someone can list your products in other's selling.' Please throw a light on this."

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Well, first anything an Amazon executive tells you, get it in writing or else it's like almost meaningless, okay? The basics, I think, most of you already know. You create a detail page and when you upload your images in a description, you're waiving all of your rights to those images and that verbiage as far as Amazon is concerned, okay? Yes, if someone else has genuine products of yours that they bought from the back of a truck, or from your own factory, or wherever, they can get on your listing and resell it. What the goal is though is to make sure that sellers can't do that under, what's called, the first sale doctrine.

First sale doctrine says you can basically buy and sell anything you want except when you delivered, if it has a "material difference" then it's outside the first sale doctrine and you can get rid of those hijackers even if it's a genuine product. You can do that in a number of different ways. You can do with a really solid warranty, not just a money-back guarantee. You can do with add-ons, with copyright materials, with licenses, with newsletters by changing the packaging so the consumers aren't getting the same product. That's the way to get rid of hijackers. You have your genuine goods. If they're selling counterfeit products, it's an entirely different ballgame. It's easier, but you got to be prepared for both. You got to be prepared to knock off hijackers who have somehow obtained your products and also hijackers selling counterfeit products.

Andrew Maff:                       So another good question. Mike Welch, he had mentioned throughout the course of in one day, he can have three to five different hijackers, and then the next day, he'll have a whole new lineup. Basically, the question really being how can we go about keeping them from coming in the first place and not having to deal with them day in and day out.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   I wish I had a great answer for this, okay? I really wish I did. You first should go for brand registry. If you can get it, you have to have a mark to get it. Then go for gating which is very, very difficult to get. There was a fantastic lawyer in Kentucky who was working on it for a while and Amazon was just awful but might as well apply for it. If you get brand gating then you really have it easy. Most of us or most of you are not going to get brand gating. So, it does become a sort of ongoing effort, an ongoing cost of doing business because while you can knock off sellers, there's no way of preventing new sellers from jumping on the listing, okay?

So, let's say, there's someone in Vietnam who has 100 different accounts, and they hijack your listing, and you knock off account number one, they come back on with three more accounts. Right now, there's really no good system to prevent that. You just have to play whack-a-mole and knock them off quickly as they come on. By having a really good arsenal of your ... built into your product, of things that other people cannot mimic or deliver, you can repeatedly knock them off. But as of right now, there is no great way of preventing more sellers from jumping onto the listing. You can stop repeat offenders, but new accounts jumping on, there's really no great system in place. Right now, it's a maintenance problem.

Andrew Maff:                       Unfortunately, it ... you're absolutely right, like it's just ... it is amazing. Once you start to build a brand and you really start to succeed, you just have to deal with all these people who are just constantly trying to knock you off and get into your listings. Unfortunately, yeah, I don't have a system for it either. The only thing we usually do is we set up the [inaudible 00:15:50], get an alert and we can get on top of them as quick as possible which, like you had mentioned CJ, it's best to do it daily so they're not in there taking up a whole week or a whole month. But as far as I know, there's really not a system in place as well to just keep them from getting in there at all. Brand registry will help a little bit, but it's really not going to do exactly what you need to do. It's unfortunate and it's one of those things that you hope Amazon will find a way to fix in the future.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Like I tell you, I'm really ... it's surprising that they haven't because by keeping hijackers off, by expanding the brand gating program to smaller private labels, they would protect the consumer. I think that webinars like this, that if sellers are willing to come together, okay, and go to Amazon in groups, they do listen. It's like lobbying. It's like lobbying efforts. They do listen to groups of sellers and they adjust accordingly. I think this is vital, so it's not there yet. We hope it's going to come in the future. It's one of the things sort of on our back burner of creating a trade group to present Amazon with ongoing problems that would address their concerns, to protect their consumers which means keeping the hijackers off in the first place.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah. So we can keep moving on. Obviously, we'll definitely keep getting back into this again like I had mentioned. We'll have questions and comments at the end where we can kind of reproach this, but just so we make sure we hit everything we came here to do, we can touch a little bit on competitors. Obviously, typically, these hijackers are competitors as well, but keeping them away from you in other aspects because even if they're not selling your listing, they create their own listing. There are other ways for them to still be taking market share from you which is just as annoying in both cases.

In some cases, you need to keep an eye on your competitors because they may launch their own listing with all of your imagery or all of your content and it's basically the same thing except they created your own listing. So, you still need to be on top of them. So, keeping them away, this is kind of more ... definitely something we try to deal with and do as best we can to make sure a lot of our sellers don't have as much issues with competitor. Listing optimization seems really obvious so, obviously, if your listings are very optimized, you'll get more attraction, you'll start to have more reviews, and you'll be the much bigger, more successful product, so the better BSR ranking, so, obviously, you'll improve from there.

But there's some other things you can do as well which would basically be if you look at your competitors' reviews, you can actually see some of the negative things that they have commented, that people have left, and you can take that information, and put it into your listing, into the bullet point. The theory is only the first bullet point in your listing is actually indexed by Amazon for keywords, so we always suggest to leave that one as descriptive about the product. But you have four more bullet points to play with there, to basically say, "Oh, some of our competitors have issues with the color not being accurate. Ours, it's guaranteed to be right color with the right size, or it's exactly the size," or to make sure that you're targeting what all the other [inaudible 00:19:00] competitor negative reviews are saying.

Then you have review generation where, obviously, you can do everything you can to bring in as much reviews, to grow your BSR so that you're not fighting with them. We personally are big fans of using Feedback Genius over at Seller Labs right now. Ooh, I lost it. Give me a second.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Yeah, you lost it. [inaudible 00:19:21] feedback, I think.

Andrew Maff:                       All right, we're good. So, gave us a new box. We got a ghost joined us. So, for PPC ... so there's a

CJ Rosenbaum:                   That's the box, that's the box of the hijackers that you guys are going to kill.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah. We just got ... we just got a webinar hijacked. This is already what they're doing.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   I got to tell you, Andrew, I agree 100%, when you see ... when there are negative reviews from deliveries, from hijackers and other products that's like low-hanging fruit for sellers who control the listing to attack and say, "Okay." If you receive something where the orange is a bit faded, that's not ours, right? Make sure you're getting our product. Our orange is such and such a deep and some great description, or sizing, or performance, or if it's like a battery-type device, the heat that ... ours doesn't produce excess heat, okay? Ours doesn't have feedback for electronic devices.

You use those negative reviews as a defense and also so if a seller receives a hijackers product, they know it, right? They write or said, "No, no, no, we told you that in bullet point two that our orange is more of a deeper color than the hijackers' products. I'm really sorry, you got a hijack product." You could offer them a genuine one, but why don't you take what's negative and turn it into strength in your listing.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah, exactly. You even have ... if you have brand registry which is, I mean, we mentioned you should have, you have that whole new opportunity of putting up, "This is what our product look like." You can even do a versus, so you have theirs versus ours. So you can say, "If you get this, you got the wrong product and this is, unfortunately, what we deal with Amazon," or something, maybe not doing that but something [inaudible 00:21:11] where basically like you can state, "This is what the competitor looks like, but this is what ours is." And then that way, if they happen to get the competitors', they're like, "Oh, this isn't the one I wanted, so they ... Amazon must have sent me the wrong one." So you can kind of stay on top of that kind of stuff.

So the PPC campaigns, obviously, we all know you can be doing manual campaigns and headline ads versus their ... your competitors' brand names or keywords that they're going after, all that stuff is pretty common. A lot of people already know this one. The one thing that I don't see a lot of sellers doing that I love doing is to block out competitors of my own listing. So, if you ever get a chance to sell to Amazon and have access to Vendor Central, I always suggest, do it once so you can have access to Vendor Central and then never do it again. Now, you can get AMS. So then you have AMS and you are now allowed to use Product Display Ads which I'll actually get a little more into the next slide. It's not, but we'll get there.

So we kind of touched on ... I forgot we had slides for like each of these bullet points and we just kind of got carried away on all of them. So this is what I was talking about earlier for the listing optimization of adding enhanced brand content of yours [inaudible 00:22:26]. Using your bullet points entitles to go after the stuff we had mentioned. Review generation, of course, like I had mentioned, Feedback Genius over at Seller Labs, we're big fans of those that we can get in reviews and you can even kind of see which ones are negative so you know that you're getting negatives there.

Come on. PPC campaign. So, these are the sponsored ads versus headline ads. This is where you can kind of add going after brand names of your competitors, so your competitors ... you use their brand name, just target them specifically and start to block them away, outbid them, in the end, it will eventually be worth the amount that you're paying per click because if you're still getting that sale and you can prove that it's your product, you will see still a very nice a cost where you're still making a good profit. The Product Display Ads show up at the bottom right of your Amazon listing, so actually right under the Buy Box. They look just like this one, so they're extremely durable. Galaxy Note is one of them.

What happens here is you can take your ASIN and you can target your own ASIN. So, what you can do is take one of your other products, target another one of your products, and make sure your products are the only thing being advertised so that you don't have a competitor who's selling a competitive product outbidding you on your own listing. This is a way to make sure that when someone lands on your listing, you are only getting them to go to other listings of yours instead of other competitors and you're starting to lose out on them. If you can get access to AMS, this is the only way to do it right now until maybe one day they give us Product Display Ads in Seller Central. But this is what we always suggest to do if you're having a hijacker problem, or if you're having a bounce problem and your conversion rates on your listings aren't that good.

The customer experience, this is another great one which, CJ, you just mentioned is keep an eye on your reviews and ask people who are giving you negative reviews, who were like, "This isn't what we thought it was going to be," blah, blah, blah. You can ask them to send you a picture and you can basically say like, "Oh, unfortunately, that's not our product. You were sent the wrong one. Please allow us to send you another one," or, "We're very upset that you receive this product. Unfortunately, Amazon sent you the wrong one. We'd love to give you a 10% discount on the correct product. Feel free to return that one kind of thing."

If you can give them an experience, obviously, you can control your own experience on your website, but you can still give very good customer experience on Amazon and build as much of a brand as you possibly can on Amazon, in which case, they'll keep coming back. So you can still retain customers on Amazon even though you don't have nearly as much access as you would on your own site.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   They're going to tell you, if you can ... when you do this, you're playing into all the different things that the platform was concerned about which is the consumer experience. If they did receive a knockoff or a counterfeit, I think this is a great way of addressing it, some of the larger brands are certainly doing this that when you're in court, for example, part of the settlements are including identifying who ended up with the counterfeit products and then reaching out and sending them a real version of the product. What the brand is doing, it's great. They're replacing counterfeit with the real. They're doing it affirmatively and then making those consumers be a lot more careful as to who they purchase from. I think it's really, really great for brands and brands are the future. Private label is the future.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah. So we had a couple people call out, that's the violation of Amazon's TOS. So, let me be a little more clear on what I meant. I didn't mean take a physical picture of their product, and put it next to yours, and say, "There's where's ours." I mean, do more of theirs and do call out so ... because, yes, you're absolutely right. Having a picture of a product on Amazon that's not in your listing is against the Amazon TOS.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   But there's nothing ... if you're dealing with a complaint that came in, you can ask them to send it back, you could ask them to send you a picture of it, and you could address it that way as giving a good customer response. That's not violating.

Andrew Maff:                       No, yes, that's not violating anything. I believe what they're mentioning which is Rip It and [inaudible 00:26:48] right now are mentioning in listing optimization or an enhanced brand content, you can't do that. Someone can submit a picture, that's not a problem at all in a review, but it's actually on the listing itself. I mean, more along the lines of, "This is what our product looks like, our competitors are less orange, or ours are a bright orange, ours are this size, our competitors send this size," like more of call out and not so much an image because, yes, you're absolutely right. You can get flagged for that.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Yeah. Yeah, it could be a major problem and you don't want to create a listing as you're trying to grow. We have seen it before. We've definitely seen sellers react to problems like this, and kind of go overboard, and they have not been very difficult to resolve, okay? I think there is a recognition when you are trying to help Amazon's customers. So, I wouldn't be too fearful of doing too much. You surely don't want to violate the Business Solutions Agreement, but you want to get a nice way of doing it, but there's nothing wrong having the customers send you a picture of what they received, nothing wrong at all with that.

Andrew Maff:                       All right. So, we're getting a little closer towards the end of everything we had prepped. We really ... I expected a ton of questions on this and a lot of legal stuff that I'm not going to touch on which is why it was great to have CJ here with us. So, I would love to hear from everyone, see what your thoughts are so far. I'd love to know if you think you're ready to start taking them on, if you kind of got just enough information. But we're pretty close now to starting to take some questions here. So if you want to start prepping them by all means, start sending them over, so we know we have plenty. I just had one from Mike. "Can we write in our product description that this product is exclusively sold by us and by no other seller?" Absolutely. I don't know why not.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   I would be a little leery of saying that, okay? I don't think that violates anything, but what could happen is that you put that in the listing, and someone else does have the product, and you're not sure whether or not the product that the hijacker is selling is genuine or not. So, I think there are better ways of accomplishing the same goal. Like if you buy from us, you get these added benefits. You should only buy from us because of such and such. But if you say that it's only sold by you, it might be true when you write it, but it might be false six months down the road when there's a hole in your distribution system, either between the manufacturer getting to Amazon, or once it's delivered to Amazon's FBA and they just lose products, and they end up on online, anyway. So I kind of prefer that a seller put in the listing the benefits that they're getting and how they only get certain things if they buy it from you.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah, exactly. It's kind of one of those things where putting someone else down to get higher up probably isn't going to help you. You want to just keep pushing the fact of how your product is better and what they're getting so that if you're perfectly clear and you're extremely detailed, the customer should know this is what I've gotten so that you don't have to kind of do that back and forth about we're not sure if they got the right product or not.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   I'll give you a great example. This is probably the number one warranty example that's out there. If you buy Wusthof cutlery, these really fancy knives, right? You buy it from Wusthof and there's a problem with the knife, they will send it back to the factory in Germany and fix it. That's what they say. If you have something like that, doesn't have to be exactly, but something that only you can deliver. You can put that right in a bullet point because, generally, it's not that much of ... it's not a really difference in price are not significant, all right? So for five cents, the consumer would prefer to have the real deal from the real seller with whatever that added that add-on is. Those things are vital and it could really kill a lot of birds with the same stone.

Andrew Maff:                       The other note originally on the product description, to us, customers are very visual. They shop through the images. You can put a ton of stuff in the product description. We still believe that Amazon is still indexing that for their algorithm purposes, but I don't really know how many people are actually reading that product description. Most customers that we've worked with, that we've been able to see how they shop is really ... they just kind of go to the images, they check the title, they skim the bullet points, and then we go straight to the review. So, unless you have enhanced brand content that catch their eye, there's a good chance they're not going to read that kind of stuff.

So, if you're going to put it in there, I agree with what CJ said. But I would stick to put it more in the bullet points area because the product description seems to just get muddled and all the extra stuff that Amazon put in you're listing. Roxana asked, "How do you know you've been hijacked either by another seller or by Amazon?" So, if you have multiple people in the Buy Box and you're a private label seller, you obviously got hijacked. As we mentioned earlier, Sellics has a great platform as well where you can actually get an alert to be told that you've had a listing that's hijacked. That's sellics.com. Their software is great for that and a lot of other stuff as well. I should work for Sellics at a certain point here.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Also, I think sellers should know sort of the nuts and bolts, right?

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Sellics is a great product. It's a great product that it gives you alert. Go daily, okay? When you get it, when you have hijackers on your listing, what we recommend across the board is to first reach out to that seller and ask them politely to get off your listing, explaining what it is they're doing wrong, or what the consumer is not receiving from their product versus yours. Give them the opportunity to get off the listing before you make an actual complaint or even before you hire a firm like us, but we do the cease and desist letters also. but you will get rid of 60, 70, sometimes 80% of the hijackers, just by reaching out them and pointing out what they're doing wrong because they don't want to have any issues with their Amazon account.

What you do by doing it amicably is you avoid animosity. We all live and die by reviews, okay? All of us nowadays from law firms, to sellers, to everybody is all Amazon reviews, Google reviews, web retailer reviews, right? So if you can avoid cutting someone's legs off with a cease and desist email, do it. If they refuse, okay, then make the complaint, or have us make the complaint. But we believe in doing trying doing things amicably to avoid animosity. We just think it's a better way of doing business. We're not into cutting sellers legs off. We're here to help people sell more products not put people out of business. It certainly avoids some of the negativity that can arise and you might choose to allow a seller say, "Listen, I only got 20 units left. Can I sell out, or can we get a license from you or something else?" It's a really good way of doing business long term.

Andrew Maff:                       I agree. Skylar asked, "CJ, because early you had mentioned when we started at Amazon, it's cracked down on Chinese sellers this week. Do you know what it is Amazon did this week?" I'm actually unaware of that, but I'd love to hear it.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   They came down like a ton of bricks for click farms, and fraud, and review manipulation, and feedback manipulation, and we saw a few domestically but we've seen hundreds, hundreds in China, just hundreds of these where they're really coming down on how they're getting their reviews and how they're getting their feedback. They just shut down hundreds and hundreds of accounts in within, I don't know, 36 hours. Our [inaudible 00:34:50] group just exploded with the same issue over, and over, and over again. So, Amazon tends, from what we see, to be harder on sellers who are located in China for certain things because they can't track their IP addresses, or their names, or their bank accounts, there's a great firewall. So we can't track IP addresses.

But for domestic sellers who are having hijackers located in Asia, this is really good news. For legitimate sellers in Asia, this is really bad news. But at the end, it's all going to kind of separate the ... what's it, something from the chafe, right? The legitimate sellers are going to rise to the top and the hijackers selling counterfeit are going to fall to the wayside or at least get tamped down a bit. But it's been an explosion over the last couple of days, just an explosion of Chinese sellers or sellers located in China getting knocked out.

Andrew Maff:                       There's another good one here, actually, for you CJ [inaudible 00:35:51], "What are the specific steps needed for Amazon to remove the unauthorized seller from your listing? So if you have a hijacker, what's the first thing you should be doing?"

CJ Rosenbaum:                   First of all, get rid of that word unauthorized, okay, like it never existed because if you put it in there, it's almost like a knee-jerk reaction that it's going to be ignored. Amazon does not care, or enforce distribution agreements, or authorized sellers versus unauthorized sellers. What's important is what lies beneath it. Can that seller deliver the same product with the same copyright material appropriately using the mark, right, the appropriate add-ons and the warranty? If the seller ... if the hijacking seller cannot deliver that, those are your tools to get rid of those hijackers. If they're selling counterfeit, you do a test buy and you point out what was different about the products. Why are Amazon's consumers getting screwed over by that hijacker or even Amazon being allowed to deliver that product?

It's the underlying rationales, not the authorization. The authorization should never be put into your complaint. You can do these complaints yourself. We do them every day, the whole team of people who do nothing but protect private label sellers, but it's the underlying rationale. They are unauthorized because they cannot deliver the warranty. They're unauthorized because I just get into the meat of it, not the authorization, not the distribution agreements. That's we got to focus on. That's how you get rid of them.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah, okay. Perfect. Eric asked, "How much should I worry when a hijacker sells my product for four to five times the price?" I wouldn't worry. I think I agree with what Mike said, it's annoying, and you now have someone in there. But you're still winning the Buy Box. I have seen this happened. I don't really understand why people do that. Maybe they're just hoping to get that one sale and make a little bit, but you're going to be winning the Buy Box. People are still going to be driven to your listing. I, personally, agree with Mike. It's annoying, but you shouldn't really worry about it. If you have a ton of other ASINs that you're getting hijackers in, I'd worry about them first before the guy who's just severely overpricing everyone. But, CJ, do you have any insights on that? Is there anything for them to worry about there?

CJ Rosenbaum:                   To me, we're business lawyers, okay? We focus on Amazon sellers, but we're business and IP lawyers. If you have sellers that are doing any significant sales at five times your price, you got to ramp up your production, your inventory a little bit, okay? That's really the cause of it because if you have your inventory available, no one's ever going to buy their products. Also, you got to watch to see, do you have repeated drop-shipping from your website because often we'll see these people who are selling it five times or 10 times your cost, they might be drop-shipping from your own website. So, I really don't think those are a major threat, they are, they're just an annoyance. God bless if consumers are willing to pay 10 times your price for your product, they're going to buy more when your inventories can solve a little bit better.

Andrew Maff:                       We got some more questions here real quick. As we can tell, we're on the Q&A slide now. I have a couple things to be given away. We just finished up a great, completely brand new, optimized Amazon listing e-book. It's got everything in there on stuff that you should be adding, what Amazon's indexing, everything pretty much that you can even think of for optimizing your listing. It's not gated. If you can give us an email, just do. It's through a Bitly. So, bit.ly/listingebook and you can download it right there for you, guys. I wanted to make sure I will left with a little something.

And then if you would like, we are doing just a completely free like 30-minute marketing consultation. We'll look through your entire Amazon and tell you, guys, where ... if you should be optimizing at any certain places, or if you need help with [PBC 00:39:43] or anything like that, and we'll give you some insight of what do you think might help grow your Amazon businesses. So just head over to sellerschoice.agency/giveaway and the password is hijackers which we have right here. But, of course, we do have some more questions, so we're going to keep going here. We still got a little bit of time. Let's see what we got.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Also, I want to do two plugs, okay? I'm going to be kind of a pig and do two plugs when you say it's okay.

Andrew Maff:                       Okay.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Okay. First plug is that we have written what I think is the best, but it's certainly the most recent book on how to avoid suspensions, and how to get your accounts, and your ASINs back. If you email me a domestic address, we'll mail you a free hard copy, okay? It's cj@amazonsellerslawyer.com, sellers is plural, lawyer is singular. The second plug is much more important, okay? Most of us who are involved in Amazon, you, guys, sell at Amazon probably also shop at Amazon, right? It shows up quickly. Most sales are perfect sellers, have to be perfect to stay on. If you're shopping on Amazon, please use the Amazon Smile program.

For those of you who are unaware, it's a program where you log on through ... it's called AmazonSmile. You log on, you pick a charity, and for everything you purchased, practically, everything, I think every dollar you spend, Amazon then makes a donation to that charity. The charity that we donate to and that I'm asking each one of you to donate to is called the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation. Ty is T-Y, Ty Louis Campbell Foundation. Real close buddy of mine named Lou Campbell. We went to college together. We were ZBT brothers together. Tragically, him and his wife, Cindy, lost their son to brain cancer. They turned tragedy just into triumph, and into hope, and they created this incredible foundation that funds research into pediatric cancers, and you wouldn't believe how little funding pediatric cancers get.

When we think at a loss of a child, how terrible it is, how sad, think about the productivity as a nation that we lose for every child that's life is lost before they even developed. So, choose AmazonSmile, pick the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation. It cost you nothing as a buyer and Amazon will donate some money to the charity. So, AmazonSmile and the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation. Sorry about the sirens. It's part of being in New York.

Andrew Maff:                       No worries. If everyone's noticed, I've actually tried to type in everything that we just mentioned so you, guys, can easily click it, that it was wrong. CJ, do you mind giving me that website one more time? I'd like to give everyone the link and all the [inaudible 00:42:36].

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Sure. Well, AmazonSmile then you pick a charity. It's Ty, T-Y, Louis, L-O-U-I-S, Campbell, the Ty Louis Campbell Foundation. If you go to AmazonSmile as you can simply type it, it'll start to pop up as you type it, and you click that, and every purchase you make, Amazon will donate some money to the charity. It's really ... they run the thing in [inaudible 00:42:58] called the [inaudible 00:42:59] to be immature and act like a kid, and jump money [inaudible 00:43:04] and there's huge mud pit, and food fights, and it's just a great, great charity. So, if you're not doing it, you're leaving money on the table that can go to a worthy cause. If you don't have a charity, please go to Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, just a tremendous organization.

Andrew Maff:                       Perfect and then, nice, so I just typed that in [inaudible 00:43:25] for you. [Brittany Isaac 00:43:27] ebook link, sorry about that. We had a couple more questions. Can you touch a little on brand gating and brand registry? We've had a bunch of questions on them.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Sure. Brand registry is content control, okay? It controls, it gives you access ... I'm sorry, it gives you control over the listing. If you get it, no one else is supposed to be able to alter the listing except for Amazon Retail. We don't really have a good defense against that, okay? That is brand registry. If you have brand registry 2.0, it gives you some really tremendous tools to make complaints about hijackers and send out cease and desist letter, just really automates it in a really nice easy way where if you have it. we've told clients that we would ... we were doing it, you got 2.0, do it yourself, okay?

Brand gating is entirely different. Brand gating if you ... if somehow Amazon blesses you with brand gating, it means that Amazon will not allow other sellers to sell that product without Amazon's permission, not your permission but Amazon's permission which gets rid of the hijacking problem for the vast majority of that problem if you can get brand gating. There's no harm in applying for it, so everyone who has a mark and has a hijacking problem should try and get it. We don't do it because there was just so many failures, the success rate was so low for small brands even though Amazon had said they were going to treat brands large and small the same, they don't seem to have done it or it doesn't seem to have done that, but you might as well give it a shot.

Try to get brand gating. I think you need a mark and I think you need to demonstrate a problem with hijackers, and you need to demonstrate how consumers are receiving subpar products or products that are missing certain benefits when they receive it from the hijackers. But it doesn't hurt to try and get it, so try and get it. Also, there are other steps that you can do. You can do the cease and desist. You can make the complaint, right? You can also ... if you have people who are selling counterfeit products or violating your intellectual property rights, you can threaten them with litigation, and you can take them to court.

There are some very, very successful small-to-medium sized sellers and I'm not pumping litigation. I'm generally anti-litigation, okay? I tried more cases than every lawyer you know probably combined, okay? Litigation is not good for small business, but if your hijackers are violating your IP rights and it's costing you more than, let's say, $5,000 a month in profit, in sales then litigation might be the way to go because you can get an order stopping their sales, and freezing their money, and then they'll come to you to settle, to let you ... for you to withdraw your complaint.

So, it depends on how much damages you're suffering. It might be a good route for certain sellers and those of you who have different alternatives. You have to see in these, the actual complaints, brand registry, brand gating, threatening litigation or possibly even following through with litigation to get a court to order them to stop selling and freeze their money. The saying is follow the money, follow the money. When you freeze the seller's money, you have their attention.

Andrew Maff:                       Nice. Jeff mentioned and [inaudible 00:46:48] it's a great hijacking month.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Say it again? What month?

Andrew Maff:                       SentryKit, S-E-N-T-R-Y Kit, I'm unaware of that one for [inaudible 00:47:00].

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Yeah, I'm not aware of Sentry, so I'm not going to comment on them. But what we see from the non-lawyer brand protection is that they're doing a scattershot approach. They're asserting complaints that are just entirely baseless, okay? So we don't recommend you use those, but it's just like Amazon came down like a ton of bricks on sellers who were using certain reconciliation companies that were doing a scattershot approach, they've also ... we've seen warnings that you've made too many baseless IP complaints. You're putting your own account at risk and we've used that on a defense side where we've received complaints or represent sellers who received baseless complaints, and we pointed out that the Business Solutions Agreement says that you can't abuse the system and by asserting baseless complaints, you are oppressing competition.

So, I don't like those companies. I haven't seen any of those companies that have a lawyer on board that actually says whether you do or do not have a good claim. So, you don't have to use us, but I certainly be very careful because if we're using a scattershot approach from one of those types of companies, where there's no one really evaluating whether there's a valid claim or not, you are putting your entire business at risk. So I wouldn't do it.

Andrew Maff:                       Yeah and, I mean, to speak to that a little bit for you which I'll toot a little bit of the Amazon Sellers' Lawyer horn, I have seen sellers try to get hijackers out of their listings. I've seen sellers try to fix some legal issues on Amazon on themselves. If you have a lawyer help you, you'll get a much faster response. You're going to spend the money for a lawyer but you're not going to be not selling for a lot shorter of a period of time. So, honestly, it seems pretty even to me. Every time we've had to have a lawyer involved with some of these issues, Amazon responds quickly.

I don't know if it has something to do with your email signature or something over there, CJ, but they seem to love to respond a lot quicker when we get a lawyer involved. But now it's at a point where we don't even use some of that stuff anymore, and we just go straight through a lawyer if we have a seller who's having any kind of issues like that.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Let's say, also, people are always fearful of attorney's fees. Let me tell everyone listening out there, okay? Our fees for plans of action are the exact same as the non-lawyers out there who are farming your stuff out to the Philippines and don't have a staff. They're purposely priced that way. You get the benefit of a real live law firm with real people working in the same place for the same price you would pay for a plan of action from the woman in Texas or the guy in Boston, okay? The same fees, only you get much higher quality, all college-educated Americans working together right here in my Long Beach, New York office. We don't work out of a PO box in a UPS Store, okay?

Now, when it comes to the legal fees, if it's an IP issue, we can send out more cease and desist letters in an hour, right, than most people can do on their own, and most of the work is done by our paralegal staff. So, I have had zero billing disputes throughout my entire career, okay? You may not love getting a bill for anything, but you will never feel like you would take an advantage of it. There's a dispute with the ability to call me up, and I've worked them out this far, and I intend to keep that record. So, our fees are the same as the non-lawyers. Since we do this day in and day out, we're very, very efficient, and we'll also ... so just because we're lawyers, don't mean you're going to get screwed on the fees, okay? All we do is focus on sellers, and you're going to be treated fairly, and you're not going to upset with our fees.

Andrew Maff:                       Beautiful. Thanks, CJ. Good touch. So let's close, I got one more question. I like this one. CJ, there's another great one for you, so I'll let you take care of it. It was a question from Linen Cotton. It was, "Some sellers resell our US market products under our listing in Canada at a much higher price. Their trademark is still pending in Canada. Is there anything they can do before they have their trademark fully registered?"

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Yeah. Look at what the consumer is receiving, okay? So it's a genuine product, it's not counterfeit. It really is your product and you don't have the IP protection in Canada. Look at what the consumer is receiving and see what it is that you can deliver that that other reseller can't like the Wusthof cutlery. They're prepared in the same factory. We have another seller who would take a portion of each sale, put it in a fund and match with his own money and donate it to a charity. Other sellers can't deliver that. Maybe it's copyrighted material, or a package insert, or instructions, or a newsletter.

It's easy to buy and sell a physical product like my phone case, but if it comes with copyright material, that tells me how to live a better life with my cellphone, that can't be delivered by somebody else. That's a clear violation both US and Canada. So, if you want to talk to about this particular project or this particular product privately, I'm happy to talk to you for free. Shoot me an email or give us a call, but you got to look at what is the consumer receiving, how you could differentiate it, and what if any IP rights they're actually violating. There's a lot of ways to skin the cat, lot of different ways.

Andrew Maff:                       CJ, I appreciate your time. Everyone who joined us today, obviously, we really appreciate everything we were able to help you out with. If you have any other question, CJ mentioned his email earlier. So cj@amazonsellerslawyer.com. You can email me. It's simply andrew@sellerschoice.agency. Of course, as you can see at the bottom right of our slide, I'm all over social, so you feel free to reach out for me there. I know CJ is pretty prevalent on social as well. So, thanks, everyone, for joining us. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions if there's anything we weren't able to help with. Have a great day, CJ. Appreciate it, buddy. Thanks for joining us.

CJ Rosenbaum:                   Signing out, dude. Thanks very much.

Andrew Maff:                       Thanks, guys. Have a great one. Good luck out there.

 

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