How to Protect Your Brand from Hijackers
If you’re going to build a brand that lasts, you’ll need to protect yourself from listing hijackers. Follow these tips to ensure your brand isn’t compromised and customers won’t question your reliability.
Though selling in the ecommerce space is hard enough, hijackers make things worse by exploiting vulnerable brands. The more successful you become, the greater the chances some competitors will eventually sabotage your enterprise.
If hijackers have attacked your brand before, you’re not alone. Dealing with hijackers is unfortunately one of many challenges successful Amazon sellers face in today’s marketplace.
Luckily, you can defend yourself without too much effort–so long as you learn how these hijackers operate. Check out the tips and tricks below to help insulate your brand from hijackers.
What are Hijackers and How Do They Operate?
In the ecommerce space, a “hijacker” is someone who tries to eliminate competition by altering–or “hijacking”–their competitors’ listings.
Generally speaking, hijackers target successful brands that regularly win the Buy Box. They’ll click Amazon’s “Have one to sell?” button and add the listing to their Manage Inventory page. Afterwards, hijackers can change (or remove) your product images and descriptions.
Usually, hijackers either remove your content so your ranking drops, or add inappropriate content so your listing gets suppressed. They might also add misleading promises to product descriptions so that your customers file returns and write negative reviews.
It should go without saying that it’s always a good idea to store backups of your product images and descriptions. But it will take more than backups to stay one step ahead of hijackers. Keep reading to learn more about the latest strategies for staying safe.
1.Use the Amazon Brand Registry
One of the first lines of defense against hijackers is the Amazon Brand Registry. By registering your brand with Amazon, you earn priority in disputes over changed product listings or related conflicts. If you have an active or pending trademark, you can register as a brand-owner with Amazon.
The Amazon Brand Registry doesn’t provide a once-and-for-all solution, however. It merely gives you an advantage when communicating with Amazon about damage done to your listings. There are multiple approaches you’ll want to take to safeguard your listings against unsavory characters.
2.Perform Test Buys and Set Purchase Limits
Occasionally, hijackers will sell counterfeit products using your listing. This way they profit without having to take any heat: when customers get upset about being sold fake products, it’s your reviews that suffer.
In other cases, hijackers sell legitimate products at a reduced price, undercutting you to close the sale. Most of the time, these hijackers bought products from you during times you ran a Lighting Deal or other large discount. They’ll sit on the product for months, later undercutting your prices by a slight margin to win the Buy Box.
To combat counterfeit hijackers, you’ll need to perform “test buys.” With a “test buy,” you purchase a product from a hijacker you suspect is selling counterfeit.
Save the order information and take photos of the product and its packaging. Then contact Amazon to report “a buyer receiving an item not as described.” Contact Amazon as a buyer, not a seller. Amazon conducts thorough investigations in cases of customer complaints.
To combat “legitimate” hijackers who are simply reselling your products, create a max purchase quantity for each item. This prevents would-be hijackers from cleaning out your inventory during a Lightning Deal or other promotion.
3.Report Trademark/Copyright Infringement
In cases where hijackers resort to outright copyright infringement–using your copyrighted images, packaging, logo, etc.–you’ll have no other recourse than to report them to Amazon.
The good news is, Amazon usually takes down any material that infringes on copyrights fairly quickly. File a report through Amazon’s “Report Infringement” page.
4.Monitor and Remove Fake Reviews
Hijackers will also sabotage their competition by posting a string of fake, negative reviews. If you ever notice you’ve suddenly received a dozen or so negative reviews at once, it’s likely a hijacker trying to drive you into the dirt.
Fake reviews can be particularly damaging during new product launches or when the product in question has a lower number of reviews overall.
Report fake reviews to Amazon directly. Be sure to keep your report brief, and mention verbatim any suspicious language or libelous material.
5.Update Product Categories
The final safeguard against hijackers is regularly updating product categories. Make sure your products are listed under the category you originally selected when creating the listing.
Why update product categories? Hijackers have recently started suppressing competitors by changing listings to the “Adult” category.
Products in Amazon’s “Adult” category remain hidden from potential customers unless the customers set specific search filters. By changing your products to this category, hijackers reduce your product visibility to zero.
Regularly inspecting your product categories ensures any would-be hijackers are stopped before their techniques do any damage.
Unfortunately, the world of ecommerce is full of hijackers–sellers who would rather sabotage their competition than try to make a better product. Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true strategies for stopping hijackers in their tracks.
Apply to the Amazon brand Registry to earn priority in disputes, perform regular “test buys” and set purchase limits, report any explicit copyright infringement or fake reviews, and check on your product categories every week.
Of course, you have enough to do as a small business owner without trying to always stay one step ahead of hijackers. These days, many sellers use automated seller software to manage hijackers effectively.
Sellers use SellerMobile to launch automated requests-for-reviews, get instant alerts if product listings change and monitor product details using easy-to-read dashboards. If you’re interested in a 14-day free trial of SellerMobile, click here. Or check out our other blog posts and our YouTube channel to get the latest ecommerce tips and tricks.