How to protect your Amazon Seller Account from the worst Amazon dirty tricks
Shady tactics on Amazon are not a new phenomenon - but they are becoming more prominent and can have a devastating affect on your Amazon seller account.
Any business marketplace as big as Amazon is liable to underhand dealings from competitors, and the website’s targeting of sellers in China has seen a growth in those activities originating there. But this is a worldwide issue for people using the platform, and one that although Amazon has focused resources on, continues to blight businesses that are acting correctly.
Several case studies have shown the impact that can have on an Amazon Sellers business, and it is an issue that Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Craig Gedey is very familiar with. Here he picks out three key shady practises to be aware of, and advises how to best protect yourself against becoming a victim of a dirty tricks practise which could cause an Amazon Seller suspension.
1. Listing sabotage by competitors
“What we have seen happen recently is sellers sabotaging their competitors by changing product information including photos and descriptions,” Gedey says. “That can happen with products not enrolled in Brand Registry, and replacing a photograph with an out-of-focus, poorer image can have a massive impact on sales. Even for products that are brand registered, shady sellers can make changes through through Vendor Central to take precedence over changes submitted by third-party sellers. You can ask Seller Support to have these removed, but it can be weeks before the changes take effect.”
2. Fake Amazon reviews
“There are two sides to this particular coin,” Gedey explains. “The practise of purchasing fake Amazon reviews to enhance the appeal of the products you are selling is a well established one now, and almost a marketplace of its own. It’s one that we strongly advise against, not least because Amazon’s detection systems are becoming more sophisticated all the time. What that has then led to is the other side of the coin - we have now seen businesses buying fake reviews for their competitors’ items. Why? Because that can prompt suspicion with Amazon and lead to those businesses being suspended, even if they have had nothing to do with the purchase of fake Amazon reviews.”
3. Amazon employees providing data
“This is a newer tactic, which sees stolen data from Amazon employees - seemingly often based in China - purchased by rogue accounts. The employees have access to a company-wide VPN that allows them to obtain a number of reports and other information not available to the public, including sales and conversion data and search history details.
Amazon has been aware of the practise of employees being offered bribes for information, but some services are still selling them for around $20 a report. There have also been reports of ASIN reports being sold, offering a valuable insight into how Amazon’s A9 search algorithm works, and which keywords are most successful. It can give businesses a real advantage.”
How to protect yourself against it
Gedey concludes: “There is no surefire way to prevent yourself being the subject of some of these dark arts, but you can protect yourself to an extent. Being aware of them and reading case studies of what has happened to other businesses will only strengthen your resolve, and being forewarned is being forearmed.
“Make sure all of your records are as up-to-date and accurate as possible, and monitor your reviews, listings and feedback avidly. That helps you to improve all areas of your Amazon business regardless of whether you become the subject of an attack, so it’s worth maintaining good practise at all times. If you are targeted, you will at least be as well placed as possible to defend yourself and ensure any impact on your business is minimal.
“For listing sabotage, there are third-party tools that can monitor any changes to listings. There are several on the market with Sentry Kit being among the most popular. While these tools don’t stop the changes from taking place, they do allow you to detect when your listing has been attacked quickly.”