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If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any length of time, you’ve likely had a listing “hijacked.” Amazon FBA hijackers are getting more sophisticated and you have to be vigilant about watching your listings. Hijackers will swoop in and siphon off your sales and in the worst cases, ruin your seller reputation.
Now someone selling an item on your listing that they legitimately own and want to sell is allowed on Amazon. This is not Hijacking. While it is frustrating when someone puts up an offer on a listing you consider yours (it actually belongs to Amazon), that is just part of running this type of Amazon business. Basically, this what retail arbitrage is.
There are different types of hijackers:
- Legitimate Sellers (not really a hijacker, by definition)
The legitimate seller is actually selling your product that they have bought from you or received as a gift. They may have purchased the product from you when you discounted it for a promotion. They add their offer to your listing. They are allowed to do this and there is not much that can be done about it. This is usually temporary until the hijacker sells out.
- Drop Shipper
This type of hijacker does not maintain inventory. They add their offer to your listing at a higher price. If they get orders, they order from you for fulfillment and then pocket the difference. They may list your product on eBay at a higher price and then order from you to fulfill orders. They hijack your listing as FBM sellers (Fulfilled by Merchant).
While drop shippers aren’t necessarily violating any laws or Amazon rules, they are price gouging customers and stealing sales when they occupy the buy box. Most importantly is that they increase the likelihood of negative reviews and that can be very bad for your business.
- Misled Seller / Uniformed Seller
This type of hijacker may have purchased inventory from the same unscrupulous manufacturer that you did, and the manufacturer has put your logo or brand on the product. Or the seller just does not know that listing their product on your ASIN is against Amazon’s rules.
This is the worst and lowest type of hijacker. They have knowingly copied your product or brand and listed their counterfeit product on your ASIN! This is just stealing sales from you like a thief.
First you have to decide whether it is worth your time to pursue the hijacker. You can use the 999 cart trick to check to see how many of your product they have in stock. If it is less than 5 or 6 units, it is not really worth worrying about. If you want to get rid of them then you can just buy them out. They will be off your listing once they sell out.
If they are selling more than 5 or 6 units, then send the hijacker a take down or cease and desist letter. I have a template of an effective cease and desist letter that you can use. Give them a day or two and look to see if they have removed their listing.
If the hijacker does not respond and does not take down their listing, the next step is to report them to Amazon for intellectual property infringement. This usually involves buying one of their products and comparing it to your product. You then photograph the products side-by-side and send the photo to Amazon to prove that the product the hijacker is selling is not your product. This is a PIA, but you pretty much have to do it if the hijacker is not deterred by your cease and desist letter. There is a form called Report Infringement that you can fill out to report your hijacker.
How To Monitor Your Listing for Hijackers
- Go to your inventory list in Seller Central.
- Click the title of each active listing. This will open the listing in Amazon.
- Look to see if there is anything that shows how many sellers are offering the product. Typically you will see the multiple offers just below the bulleted feature list or near the add to cart button.
- Click to see all offers.
- Determine what kind of hijacker you have and proceed with remedies above.
You can also use an automated tool such as Listing Eagle, AMZSuite, etc… to alert you when someone places an offer on your listing.
I hope this helps in shedding light on the hijacker problem and shows you how to deal with it when it happens (not if).
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© 2017 Philip A Covington