With the FBA marketplace growing and more sellers finding their way onto the platform, competition is increasing at record numbers.
Unfortunately, with increased competition comes one major problem: unethical operators looking to get ahead any way possible, even if it means breaking the rules and selling you short in the process.
One of the biggest complaints popping up in the FBA seller community lately is the massive amount of unethical sellers doing things like hijacking product listings, selling counterfeit and low quality products, and even going as far as purchasing your products, breaking them, then taking pictures and leaving a negative review on your listing.
The last thing you want to do is stoop to their level and participate in the blackhat and unethical methods they’re using in an attempt to gain an advantage.
Using the same strategies they’re using could put your business at risk, so even if it feels like they’re getting away with using shady techniques to make sales, just know that it won’t last forever.
While you’re waiting for their accounts to be removed and your listings to be restored, there are a few strategies you can use that will help you remain competitive and continue making sales.
Before you can outcompete people that are using unethical strategies to take sales away from your business, the first thing you’re going to need to do is get used to doing is reporting violators.
Not only to keep yourself safe and ensure that you’re not currently breaking any of them, but that you can cite the rule that is being broken whenever you report a shady competitor.
Knowing the rules and being able to tell when they are being broken is your first step towards fighting off unethical competition.
If you are able to spot when rules are being broken, and use the report button to notify Amazon of the violations, you are able to keep a majority of lazy, unethical marketers and sellers at bay.
Not only will this help you whenever people are hijacking your listing and trying to sell lower quality or knockoff products, it will also help you when competitors are pushing negative reviews to your listing that you need to get taken care of or removed.
The best way to fight off competitors that are trying to lowball your business is to outperform them in every other area.
One thing you can almost guarantee is that, when a competitor is using shady tactics to make sales, they aren’t going to put in the effort to actually grow their business the right now.
That means you can continue making sales using whitehat and legitimate strategies that do work to grow your own business. Even if you don’t already have reviews or if you’ve recently launched a new product.
Running ads to your product listings will also ensure that you are showing up in more places than your competition can, because hijackers tend to avoid spending money to grow their business -- instead, relying on shady tactics and get-rich-quick methods to sell products.
When you’re first starting out with a new product, or have a successful product that is having traffic taken from it and sent to your competitor’s pages, you are going to want to start by building a pay per click campaign in Amazon.
Getting started, you will want to push an Automatic campaign and let Amazon’s algorithms figure out where to display your advertisements. As time goes on, you may find that your average cost of sale (ACOS) is lower than your profit margin, making it viable to continue running the automatica campaign.
However, for most people, you are going to want to limit the amount of time that you let an automatic campaign run, and use it solely to gather keywords that you can use in a manual campaign.
Allowing Amazon’s algorithms to test different placements for your ads will help you uncover keywords that convert well, and let you remove keywords that aren’t converting or are irrelevant to your products, and use the keywords that turn a profit to create a new manual bidding campaign.
Running PPC campaigns, even when you’re not trying to fend off unethical competition, is a great way to increase your sales. As long as you monitor the campaigns you can turn a profit in most cases.
PPC campaigns are also perfect for increasing your reviews so you can launch a new product and ensure that unethical competition can’t move in and take sales away from you.
We’ve already told you that you will need to become familiar with the report button to let Amazon know about unscrupulous sellers, but it’s worth noting again.
Whenever you notice a hijacker showing up on your listing, you will need to immediately report them, along with the rules that they are breaking, to get the process moving forward.
Amazon usually works quickly when they’re removing sellers pushing counterfeit products, but the sooner you can have the hijacker taken off your listing, the less sales you are going to potentially lose.
The last thing you want to let hijackers do is affect your mood or throw off the positive outlook you have on your business.
If you take proper steps to ensure that they have a harder time hijacking your listing, and report them when they do, you can keep pushing your business forward without needing to worry about them too much.
Landing the Buy Box is going to be one of your best lines of defense, because customers that click on the Add To Cart button inside of the Buy Box very rarely choose to purchase from a different seller.
Offering Prime shipping, competing on price, and having a higher # of reviews is usually enough to secure the Buy Box for your listing.
If you haven’t already, you are also going to want to register your brand with Amazon.
This requires you to have a company website, and will give you control over your listing. Other sellers will not be able to change it without your consent, and you can easily have hijacker’s listings removed.
Finally, you will want to file cease and desist orders with sellers that are pushing counterfeit products and trying to undercut your prices. Once the cease and desist is sent, fire off an email to Amazon letting them know about the situation.
It’s unfortunate, but one of the biggest sources of hijackers are actually manufacturers that are providing the products to you and other sellers.
When you put in the work to develop a product and the manufacturer realizes that you’re making money, they want to claim a bigger piece of the pie.
The only way to avoid having this happen to you is to work with reputable manufacturers that have enough business coming their way that they do not need to spend time trying to hijack listings and use shady tactics to undercut people having products developed in their factories.
In general, the more that you pay to have your products developed, the less you’re going to have to deal with this happening to you.
Paying a high price doesn’t always keep unscrupulous manufacturers from pushing their own version of your products to the marketplace, though. And having overseas manufacturers hijack your listing makes using a cease and desist harder to enforce.
You will also need to do some investigating to verify that the manufacturer you’re using to develop your products is actually selling the same products themselves.
If you do find out that your manufacturer is pushing their own version of your products, you will want to get your intellectual property from them (if you don’t already have it) and cut ties immediately after.
Finding the right price to sell your products at is like balancing yourself on a high wire.
You don’t necessarily want to be so low that your profit margins are slim and make it hard for you to earn a livable income. At the same time, you don’t want to be the most expensive in your category, either.
Most hijackers are going to undercut your pricing in an effort to generate sales. You want to avoid dropping your own prices to compete with them because, most times, those hijackers are direct manufacturers that can afford to sell them cheaper than you can.
What they can’t do is provide the same quality product you’re selling and give your customers the same experience that you’re providing.
In many instances, hijackers are going to be shipping from overseas, which instantly sets you apart if you’re shipping directly from Amazon’s warehouses and using Prime shipping.
One thing that you usually don’t have to worry about with hijackers trying to make a quick buck is that they usually aren’t going to be around long.
Sure, you may have to deal with different sellers trying to move in on your listings from time, to time.
At the end of the day, though, unless they are willing to put in the time to properly grow their business, they’re just a bump in the road for you.
At the end of the day, if you drop your prices in an effort to compete with them, you’re going to cost yourself long-term profits because other sellers in your category could also drop their prices to keep up with you, and the hijackers.
Causing prices to plummet in your category is never going to end well, and when they’re dropped across the board, another seller -- that’s competing on quality and service -- is going to come in and clean up, making all of the sales that you once had.
If you’re going to combat hijackers and unethical competition, the last thing you want happening is having your own products flagged for practices that break the rules.
If you’re not operating above board (using paid reviews, for instance), you need to stop now.
The same report button you’ll be using to have hijackers removed can be used against you, and other people are going to be looking to remove you from the marketplace.
With the rise in popularity of selling on Amazon, and people teaching ways to gain an edge over the competition, some sellers may not even realize they’re breaking the rules.
Because of that, you need to brush up on the Terms of Service.
It’s also a good idea to stay up to date, because Amazon regularly changes rules and adds new ones into the agreement you’ve made when you became eligible to sell on their site. If you’re going to depend on them for your business’ revenue, you need to stay within their guidelines.
The nature of the game with selling physical products on Amazon is that you may always have to deal with people trying to take sales from your business by pushing counterfeit and low quality versions of the same products you’re selling.
The best way to combat this is to work on building up your brand off of Amazon’s platform.
Selling products from your own website is the best long-term insurance you can give yourself, and keeps you from having to deal with hijackers forever.
If you’re selling private label, you probably already have your own site, but if you aren’t you will want to start working with a designer or developer to build a platform that’s independent of Amazon.
Running your own site, and building your brand away from Amazon gives you a lot more freedom in how you can operate your business, too. You can provide better customer service, utilize other traffic sources, and build an email list so you can increase your revenue per visitor.
Dealing with unethical competition can be frustrating, but if you start focusing on building your brand off of Amazon’s site, your business’ income won’t be at the mercy of hijackers, Amazon’s changing Terms of Service, and constantly worrying about whether or not your revenue could take a hit at any moment.
Start by reporting them whenever you see them, and sending cease and desist orders to each seller that tries to move in on your listing, selling counterfeit versions of your products.
Run pay-per-click campaigns, using automatic campaigns to help launch new products, eventually moving into building manual campaigns to maintain your profit margins and drive more traffic to your listing than what the hijackers are able to do.
Make sure that you’re working with reputable manufacturers so you don’t have to worry about them trying to move in and push the products you’ve paid to have developed, while attempting to undercut your prices at the same time.
On that note, never lower your prices in an effort to keep up with the competition. Instead, focus on providing a better experience, better customer service, and maintaining the quality of your products, while dealing with any negative reviews you receive as soon as they happen.
Finally, you want to avoid using strategies that could put your own business at risk, because if you’re attempting to remove hijackers and unethical sellers from Amazon, other people could be looking at doing the same thing to you, and your business.
Give your business the ultimate long-term survivability by building your brand off of Amazon’s platform.
It will allow you to drive traffic from new sources, provide even better customer service, and give you the control over your business that will keep you from stressing out over things like unethical competition.
Andrew is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, wine enthusiast, hustler (in a good way) & the guy behind BrandBuilders.io. His business helps both FBA sellers and Amazon Affiliate marketers build out their brands and manage their portfolio of sites.