Amazon recently announced new restrictions for third-party sellers who sell major brands on the platform, dubbed “brand gating“. In order to sell some top brands such as Nike and Amazon on the marketplace, sellers must pay an extremely high fee to get approval to list these branded goods.

An Amazon spokesperson said,

We want our customers to be able to shop with confidence on Amazon. We consider several factors when determining qualifications and criteria to sell certain products. For certain products and categories, Amazon requires additional performance checks, other qualification requirements, and fees.”

The new regulations are part of Amazon’s efforts to boost consumer confidence and tighten restrictions on who is selling top brands on Amazon, after a number of counterfeit items appeared on the marketplace.

In July, there was a very public fallout with Birkenstock which resulted in the company pulling their products from Amazon. And this week Apple complained to Amazon about sellers selling fake Apple products on its platform.

What it means for sellers

Some private label brand sellers have reported that they must obtain approval even to sell their own products on Amazon, whilst other sellers are not happy with many reporting that account suspensions, policy warnings and buyer complaints have risen sharply.

Q4 is the worst time to be dealing with blocked listings or suspensions.

With that in mind, our friends at eCommerceChris have compiled a Q4 War Kit with lots of resources including a standard operation procedure and some tips to deal with brand gating and changes to Amazon’s review policy.

#1. Brand Gating

Resellers Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t panic if Amazon gates you out of your own brand. Just supply the requested documentation and escalate if necessary.
  • Do register with Brand Registry if you haven’t already.
  • Do make sure you get your brand trademarked.
  • Do consider requesting Brand Gating from Amazon.
  • Do provide your authorised resellers with letters of authorisation.

Private Sellers Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t assume that just because you haven’t received a gated brand notification it means you are exempt. Amazon often sends out their notifications/takes action in waves. They have a lot of sellers – they need to be able to scale these changes.
  • Don’t try to list your “new” items as “used” or “collectible” to try to get around brand gating.
  • Don’t bundle restricted brands with non-restricted brands to try to get around brand gating.
  • Don’t try to list restricted brands without authorisation by omitting the brand name from the listing.
  • Don’t buy inventory from other Amazon sellers who have been gated out of selling with the intention of selling it on Amazon. If there isn’t adequate documentation to get approval, Amazon does not want that inventory for sale.
  • Do your due diligence with your suppliers.
  • Are they an authorised reseller? Will your documentation hold up to Amazon scrutiny?
  • Do check your wholesale agreements to see if you are authorised to sell on Amazon.
  • Do speak to your suppliers about getting a letter of authorisation from the brand owner to sell on Amazon.
  • Do look into selling your inventory on other platforms such as Jet, Walmart, eBay or your own website. Diversification is always a good idea.

#2. Review Strategy

In another move to improve the customer experience, Amazon also recently updated its review guidelines and banned incentivised reviews.

Here’s some great advice on how to stay suspension free when it comes to Amazon reviews.

  • Don’t ask buyers to modify or remove reviews.
  • Don’t write reviews for your own or competitor products.
  • Don’t ask friends/family/employees to write reviews for your own or competitor products.
  • Don’t create fake buyer accounts to leave reviews.
  • Don’t try to “secretly” refund or incentivise customers to leave reviews.

One way to stay compliant with Amazon’s new review guidelines whilst increasing your positive feedback is by using FeedbackExpress, Amazon seller feedback software. The software can also help prevent negative feedback and remove bad feedback quickly. It comes with a free 30-day trial and if you sign up with the promo code “FEX10”, you’ll receive 10% off your first month’s bill. Learn more…