If you decide to run a Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) business, you’ll get a lot of perks. Your products will be sent to an Amazon fulfillment center, where they’ll pick, pack and ship your items to customers, all for a small fee. FBA businesses are convenient, and you get the benefit of Amazon’s experienced and efficient workforce.
However, an FBA business doesn't come without risks, and other business owners won't always do the right thing. If a product is innovative or a best-seller, it can be a target for copycats.
The question is: how do you protect your FBA business from cheap imitations?
1. How Copycats Can Steal Your Amazon Business
Copycats find many ways to cash in on your success. They may try to copy your business name, logo or unique products. They may sell cheap replicas under your listing, which can negatively impact your sales. They may even purchase your product and send it overseas to a cheap manufacturer. The manufacturer then copies the item, often with inferior quality.
It's not uncommon, and many FBA businesses complain about it. Customers are disadvantaged because they receive a product that doesn't meet their expectations, and you lose business to someone selling imitations of your products at a price point you can't compete with.
2. How to Protect Your Amazon Brand
If you're worried about counterfeit products, there are ways you can protect your Amazon brand. Prevention is always better than a cure, and taking precautions from the start can help deter potential copycats.
Patent Your Idea
If you have a unique idea, then you should do everything you can to protect it. Patents and trademarks can be expensive, but they may be worth it in the long run. It's also a good practice to speak to a patent attorney before sharing your idea. They'll be able to give you up-to-date advice and help you choose the best option for your business type.
For an added layer of protection, make sure you sign up for the Amazon Brand Registry program. You'll get a range of tools that you can use to build and protect your brand. For example, you can use automation to detect infringements and inaccurate information. And you can report violations, with staff available to help you 24 hours a day.
Show Off Your Logo
While Amazon disapproves of photos with watermarks, you can still make your product images your own. If your product or packaging has your brand printed on it, make sure you feature it in the shot.
For example, you may sell mobile phone covers. You can have your logo printed somewhere on the product and feature it prominently in some of the images on your listing. Customers will expect their order to look like the photo, and the Amazon copycat may be dissuaded when your product is difficult to replicate.
Stand Out with Packaging
Unique packaging will also make your product — and the general experience customers have with your brand — more difficult to imitate. You can put your product in a special gift bag or box and describe it in the listing.
For example, if you sell jewelry, it might come packaged in a personalized silk gift bag. If you sell an electronic device, it may come in a limited edition gift box. Choose packaging that will both make your Amazon FBA business stand out and deter copycats.
Think About Bundle Deals
If you're thinking about Amazon brand protection, consider selling your products in a bundle. When you sell multiple products at a discounted price point, it will be appealing to customers and harder to copy.
The products in the bundle should complement each other. For example, at Boosted Commerce, we sell a bathtub toy holder. We could then bundle that with bathtub toys and foam letters. Now there are multiple products that a potential copycat would need to replicate.
Talk About It
When you describe your products, you can warn your customers about fakes. When you warn shoppers to be wary of fakes, they may be more careful about how they shop. Depending on the product value, you may also want to sign up for Transparency. This program creates a unique code that’s put on each individual unit, which is then scanned for authenticity by Amazon before being shipped. Customers can also scan these codes to verify that the product is genuine.
3. What to Do When Copycats Strike
Even when you take precautions to protect your brand from Amazon copycats, they can still attack.
If your business is being targeted and you have a patent or trademark, you should consult your lawyer. They'll take you through the process and help you send a cease and desist notice. These letters warn the other party that they need to stop what they're doing or legal action will be taken. If you don't have a lawyer, you can try reaching out to the counterfeiters in writing to ask them to stop.
The next step is to contact Amazon directly. The company is responsible for the fulfillment of your goods, and if there's an issue, it needs to know about it. Amazon takes counterfeit products seriously, but you may need evidence to prove your case.
If you receive any complaints from people who have purchased an inferior version, ask them to speak up. Customers who receive counterfeit products can file a report with Amazon and help you escalate your issue.
4. Protecting Your FBA Business
Running an FBA business can be a viable way to make money. But if you've designed a product that is in high demand, some people will try to copy it.
There are several ways to boost your Amazon brand protection, though. You can sell your products in a bundle, print your logo on your designs and see a patent attorney. To reduce the risk, you can help educate your customers by warning them of fakes. And you can use unique packaging and codes through Transparency to make it harder to replicate.
Whatever you do, don't ignore the issue. If you aim for success on Amazon, your brand will likely become a target. Make a plan to ward off copycats long before the first one strikes.
5. Taking the Next Step
Protecting your brand is a crucial part of growing your business. And being rewarded for that growth is a crucial part of being a business owner — all the way up to selling the business when the time is right. At Boosted Commerce, we’ve helped close to 40 brands exit successfully and become part of our Seller Circle. If you’re ready to take that next step, or are even just thinking about it, feel free to reach out and learn more about selling your business to Boosted.