Amazon and the notorious markets list… and why, if you sell through Amazon, it’s not all over yet…

Scanning Products

The Office of the US Trade Representative released its Special 301 Report last week adding five Amazon platforms to its latest ‘Notorious Markets list’. Alongside the Canadian, French, German and Indian Amazon sites, the UK platform was criticised for its “lengthy and burdensome” counterfeit removal process.

The appearance of Amazon UK on the much feared ‘Notorious Markets list’ shouldn’t, necessarily, send shivers down the spines of all brand owners.  If your brand is well controlled, from sourcing through distribution and resale, then you can remain in control – and beat the counterfeiters.

Control of the Supply Chain

Part of the problem with marketplaces, not just Amazon, is that while they offer convenience and speed to consumers, for the brand keen to take advantage of new resellers to keep cash flow moving, control subsequently suffers … and they often come to realise too late.

They don’t know – quite – or exactly – where stock is or who sells what.

For many brands, with thousands of SKUs, and global distribution, the question is just too hard to answer – control may have been relinquished long ago, firstly to a trusted intermediary but is now ‘loose’.

However, where relationships with distributors are solid and reliable and these distributors, in turn, know their resellers, there is every hope Amazon remains a marketplace where profits can be retained and growth enjoyed.

What Can Be Done

So if you’re a brand owner worrying about exactly this, my first question would be: do you really know who is selling your products on line? If the answer here is a no, the first action is finding out – which is where SnapDragon can help. Our software monitors the busiest online marketplaces, and social media sites, in the world reporting back what we find – both in terms of your genuine products, as well as counterfeit or copycat versions of those. We are able to identify sellers, price, availability and deeper delves can help establish further information such as the potential for grey market imports or stolen stock.

Once you know this .. you can regain better control of what’s on Amazon, or any other marketplace – by monitoring the marketplace using our Swoop software – and ensuring sellers which contravene your agreements or misuse your intellectual property are identified and dealt with accordingly. In terms of those selling counterfeits, this means removing their listings altogether. Remove the links, prevent public visibility, prevent purchase, export, import and distribution. Bingo.

Is it Really as Easy as That?

Yes, the marketplaces shouldn’t allow fake products – we all absolutely agree with that – but it can be difficult for the uninitiated to tell whether a seller is genuine or not – if the stock really is from a ‘bin end’, or is grey-market. The consumer doesn’t know – which is why they buy fakes. Disappointing themselves, at best … causing harm at worst.

The more you, as the brand, know about your own distribution network, the better placed you are to use that knowledge to control what’s out there, who is selling what, where and when … keeping your revenues on track, your reputation in tact and your customers safe.

It’s never ever too late to start the process … so if the month of May needs a lockdown project … here’s one to start on.

May the (good) forces of online be with you. Good luck.