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As Amazon continues to experience record growth, it’s attracted small and medium-sized businesses in droves. However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Dubious sellers have slipped through the net using black hat tricks to improve their rankings and sales while sabotaging their competition, with schemes like hijacking and review manipulation. This problem has wreaked havoc on Amazon’s prized customer experience, not to mention the progress of good sellers.
Spotting this damaging development, Amazon has been on a quest to wipe out malpractice. In 2021, Amazon banned more than 3000 seller accounts for terms of service violations sparking a mass exodus of 600 brands overnight.
But even Amazon knows account closures aren’t enough to keep the opportunists and scammers at bay. That’s why Amazon has gone to great lengths to offer its sellers more security through its program, Amazon Brand Registry.
Amazon has now launched its 2022 report on Brand Protection, detailing its development and execution of tools and programs to combat criminal activity and abuse on its platform.
To help you optimize your Amazon selling strategy, we’ll explore what brand protection is and why it’s worth the investment to enroll. We’ll also highlight the must-know details from the 2022 progress report and how to take advantage of it as a participating brand.
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In 2017, Amazon decided to tackle the issues brand and shoppers were experiencing at the hands of criminals with the launch of the renowned Brand Registry program.
Amazon Brand Registry is a free protection service designed to shield brands from harmful actions such as counterfeiting, intellectual property (IP) infringement, and listing tampering. Whether you sell on Amazon or not you can enroll if you have a registered trademarked brand.
Solutions under Amazon’s Brand Registry umbrella have already racked up some impressive wins. These include more than 4 billion bad listings blocked before going live in stores. Also, more than 3 million counterfeits were detected, seized, and disposed of.
Interest may wane over time for some marketplace programs, but that’s not true for Brand Registry. In 2021, 700,000 businesses enrolled, a 40% jump on 2020. Brand Registry’s expansive protection measures and knowledge make it necessary for any eCommerce serious about scaling on Amazon.
But that’s not to say the Brand Registry program is faultless. To get a clearer understanding of Brand Registry’s value, let’s explore some pros and cons:
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Over the last few years, Amazon has invested heavily in expanding and improving its brand protection tools and initiatives, to uplevel the coverage it provides its enrollees and customers. Let’s breakdown the latest and most significant developments:
Combining machine learning, automation, and data pooled from Brand Registry, Amazon has crafted innovative solutions such as the following Brand Registry tools:
The Report a Violation tool helps sellers get support quickly when infringements arise. As a brand owner, you can not only look for and spot offending actions, but also submit a ticket and track its progress in a specially crafted dashboard. This tool continues to make positive contributions to the fight against infringements. In fact, Amazon saw a 25% drop in breaches since 2020.
Tackling the complex world of utility patents, APEX focuses on helping brands protect themselves by submitting requests to Amazon to review potential violations. Amazon enlists the help of using an objective, third-party patent lawyer to assess the dispute. This approach allows for accurate case deliberation, protects brands, and preserves market competition.
Fortifying Amazon’s position in the war on counterfeits, Transparency enables brands to play an active role in blocking fake goods from infiltrating their supply chain. The tool equips Amazon to verify each product sent to its warehouses’ authenticity by scanning the Transparency-enabled code.
It also empowers brands to amplify their goods authentication strategy and gain customers’ trust credentials through their customers, to access this innovative solution on the go via a dedicated mobile app. Equipping customers to validate products increases your protection, without multiplying your team’s workload.
Project Zero has unlocked new levels of security coverage for Brand Registry participants. The initiative combines Amazon’s high-tech brand protection tools, self-service counterfeit listing removal capabilities, automated protections, and expansive knowledge of IP and counterfeit detection for a well-rounded defense.
For example, under Project Zero, the brand can remove harmful listings and can set automated protections that guard their interests around the clock. The multipronged approach to brand protection has been ground-breaking, with Amazon stating for every 1 listing removed by a brand in Project Zero, automated protections booted more than 1000 suspected violations.
Noticing that the lengthy approval process for obtaining trademarks prevented brands from adequately protecting themselves, Amazon launched the Amazon IP Accelerator. This program speeds up the timeline for brands to gain IP rights and brand protection on and off the Amazon marketplace.
Amazon’s IP Accelerator gives enrollees access to an extensive network of reputable IP companies at fair rates. The program continues to gain ground and is now available in places such as the US, EU, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Australia.
In the past, Amazon focused its security-boosting measures on removing improper listings and deterring sellers from breaking the rules with stiff penalties. But the 2022 Brand Protection report revealed Amazon’s ambition to take a more holistic approach to security on their platform. Some notable changes include:
Verification on Amazon used to consist of an online application document submission, which Amazon Support would later approve or reject. However, the lack of in-person vetting made the process susceptible to manipulation.
As a result, Amazon has scaled up in-person verifications. Prospective sellers speak with an Amazon team member in a one-to-one online setting and confirm details such as their proof of identity, physical location, and payment method.
The enhanced security checks support Amazon’s machine learning vehicles. These analyze large data sets at scale, highlight threats, and help prevent people from securing seller accounts illegitimately. The new technology is so sophisticated that it can even identify connections to past bad actors.
Gone are the days when an Amazon selling ban was the biggest retribution for shady sellers. Amazon has started to use the strong arm of the law to hold fraudulent sellers accountable. This has included setting up the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) in 2020 and suing 600 scammers and counterfeiters in 2021.
To combat fake goods, Amazon has joined forces with industry associations around the globe. These include associations such as the Michigan State University’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP), Imaging Supplies Coalition (ISC), and International Anticounterfeiting Coalition (IACC).
Together they’ve created a memorandum of understanding to form best practices, trial new counterfeit prevention measures, and spot trends. Also, Amazon’s CCU leans on knowledge from those with backgrounds as data analysts, federal prosecutors, FBI agents, and law enforcement.
The Amazon CCU understands the importance of keeping up with industry trends to create innovative ways to find and stop bad actors. Consequently, they’ve brought suppliers, logistics companies’ sellers, fake invoice issuers, and even social media influencers to justice through counterfeit goods seizures and civil lawsuits.
As the battle continues against counterfeits, some customers will inevitably encounter bogus products in the marketplace. So Amazon is now using its generous customer refunds policy to stop the spread of counterfeit products and keep customers returning if they encounter fake products on the platform.
For example, if Amazon notices a product is not the real deal, they will contact the customer. Then alert them of the issue and offer a full refund without the customer needing to act. This approach protects the customer experience and sellers’ brand reputation.
Putting into action the famous saying “knowledge is power,” Amazon is spending resources to boost customer understanding and awareness of counterfeiting. Some key activities include:
While Amazon continues to make huge strides towards building a safe, fair marketplace. This is only the beginning of the journey. Security on the Amazon marketplace is everyone’s responsibility. So, be proactive. Invest in trademarks and patents to shield your brand on every selling platform you use.
Also, implement robust preventative measures and monitor their effectiveness, tweaking them as you gain more intel. Encourage shoppers to be part of your protective measure by selling the value they gain and lean on technology to find potential violations and suspicious activity.
Get your brand protection strategy and your selling experience on Amazon right, and it will be a smoother, more enjoyable, and profitable ride.
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“Protecting brands against infringement requires constant vigilance and continuous innovation. The valuable information provided by brands via Brand Registry allows us to proactively prevent infringing products from surfacing in our stores worldwide. We take great pride in our mission to protect brands and customers.” — Raj Kizhakkekalathil, Director, Brand Registry, Amazon