10 Things You Need to do to Protect Your Brand on Amazon in 2023

By Chris McCabe, Owner, Founder of ecommerceChris

 What are we talking about at this year’s Prosper Show? A Multi-Step Process to Minimizing Conflict with Amazon (or with their buyers). You’ll learn to Set things up right by creating efficient, workable SOPs and/or adapting them if you have to. You’ll also understand how to prepare a communication strategy so that you can appeal quickly and properly as needed.

There’s nothing more important to Amazon than making customers happy. Every time you make a business decision related to your Amazon account, you need to ask yourself- if all sellers did this, would it be good for Amazon and their customers?

Set things up right the first time and maintain them the right way, before you find yourself at the mercy of the Amazon gods.

1. Make sure your products meet or exceed customer expectations

It’s exciting to start a new product, but if you get into such a rush to bring it to market that you skip effective QC set up, you could really regret it. Take your time and get a “gold standard” sample that will serve as a benchmark for future production.

If you have finished developing your product and you couldn’t be happier with the result, test it out prior to selling it.  You don’t want buyer complaints that you didn’t see coming.

And that means testing your samples rigorously to learn from any mistakes along the way. This sample should represent the very best version of your product, and the manufacturer needs to understand that this is what you expect them to produce.

Plan to be vigilant with quality control testing- don’t wait for negative product reviews to roll in to know there is something going wrong. Order your own product consistently and inspect the packaging along with the item’s overall quality. Make sure it’s exactly what your listing describes. That’s how to avoid risk!

2. Ongoing safety testing ensures that every batch of product is safe

If your product requires safety testing, enlist a 3rd party to run the necessary tests and provide safety documentation.

Create and maintain specifications for your products because your supplier must maintain the same standards as you do. From the very beginning of the working relationship,  communicate exactly what you want, in detail and in writing. If you meet in person, follow-up immediately by email with a comprehensive recap of everything that was discussed and ask everyone to confirm receipt. You can’t use vague terms and expect success, and you don’t want to waste time and money on something because the expectations weren’t clear.

3. Anticipate complaints (even if you think they’re not accurate) & be ready to revamp internal SOPs

Quality control begins with your supplier but ends with you. If the product reaches you in excellent condition but Amazon’s buyers are complaining, start by reviewing your own operations for the cause. You might feel like you’re wasting time on a baseless claim or on anti-competitive behavior, and on some level you should expect to be attacked by others if you’re a successful brand on Amazon. But, don’t assume that everything that goes wrong is an attack.

It’s always better to expect these types of problems and have solutions ready and waiting. You have no business without the best product, so make quality control your biggest priority.

4. Identify areas where you could improve, to reduce the chances of performance notification alerts in your Account Health

  • Pull some inventory from FBA to inspect it. Look to customer complaints and return reasons for clues.
  • How are you handling the products before sending them to FBA? How are you handling returns? Is there a possibility of opened items winding up mixed in with new inventory?
  • Is your product packaged for ecommerce? Your product goes through a lot before it reaches the customer. It’s shipped, packed, and handled multiple times. Can your packaging withstand the journey? Do the drop test– drop your product from 3 feet in the air, on every side. If the product and packaging doesn’t sustain any damage, it’s well protected. If it does sustain damage, you need to improve your packaging.
  • Make sure your listing accurately describes your product and sets customer expectations in line with what they’ll be getting. Include safety information in your product detail page.

5. Resolve any rights owner claims quickly

You need to run a tight ship in regard to intellectual property rights ownership.

Make sure you counter any new trademark, patent/ design or copyright infringement claims as soon they come in (unless you’re investigating the legality of said claims first).  Ignoring IP hits to your Account Health will show competitors and Amazon teams that you may not have your act together.

If you need expert-level legal help to resolve an IP complaint, don’t hire just ANY attorney (or fall for the “loudest” one) and don’t hire a lawyer lacking an IP-expert background. Know how to locate real help!

6. Protect your own IP

Private label brands must register their trademark with the USPTO and enroll in Brand Registry to protect themselves.

Is your product patentable? Great, get a patent.

We also recommend copyrighting your listing and website content so an unscrupulous competitor doesn’t try to copyright your own content out from under you. This also gives you a stronger basis to report anyone who steals your images or written text.

7. Make sure you have the supply chain documentation Amazon is looking for

Are your suppliers verifiable? If your supplier lacks a website then it won’t make sense to continue that sourcing relationship for Amazon. Ensure they have a strong online presence for Amazon to verify.

The same principle applies if you’re selling aging inventory that lacks invoices or if invoice dates go back beyond 365 days. That inventory no longer has any value on Amazon if they ask you for invoices. Remove anything approaching a year, or you’ll be risking the whole account. Also, if the addresses or company names on your invoices don’t match what you have registered in Seller Central, they won’t take it.

Proforma or Commercial Invoices are not acceptable to Amazon. Your invoices must be dated, must have an invoice number, and must include your supplier’s name and contact information.

Make sure your invoice includes unique identifiers for the products (ideally GS1 GTINs, so Amazon can easily match it to the products listed).

8. Have Plan of Action-style language ready to go to cover for any surprise item condition or item quality complaints.

The way Amazon Product quality and Notice teams behave these days, any Private Label seller of their own branded products needs to be ready to defend the legitimacy of their own products. Automated scripts have proven unable to differentiate between resellers of other brands and sellers of their own brands. So be ready for that “buzzword” style attack and have appeals ready to go.

9. How to escalate is just as important as where or what you submit

Don’t call Seller Support or Account Health teams for hours on end, unless they’re giving you viable, actionable information on why Amazon cut your listings down out of nowhere.

Seller Performance investigators could take days or even weeks to read the contact correctly, let alone provide a meaningful answer. If they don’t want to take the time to review your appeal, you’ll need to bump things up to their superiors, stating plainly why you’ve been forced to escalate to their higher-level squad.  Understand who in the food chain is responsible for what types of marketplace management and get their attention.

At the first sign of a generic, canned denial response (or worse when there’s no reply at all) push past the teams that took action against your ASIN. Take it higher and get managers to review the team that took the action.

Make sure you always mention the teams you’ve already contacted to resolve the matter, be it Brand Registry, Account Health calls, compliance teams, Seller Performance or VP-level Amazonians. Give the dates you’ve contacted them, documents attached, and the nature of the appeals they completely ignored along the way.

10. Pull any problematic products

Don’t cling to selling something that attracts the ire of your customers on a regular basis.

If it’s your top-selling listing and you have way too much of it to turn back now, make sure you figure out fast the reasons why people keep complaining about it.

If you check everything, fix any potential issues, and you’re STILL getting complaints, consider pulling your product. You can hardly risk having one troubled item pulling your entire account down.

Remember, don’t automatically blame buyers or competitors or Amazon itself whenever anything negative happens.  Look at the information they and their customers are giving you in your account and act accordingly. What you learn today from a negative buyer experience could prevent the permanent suspension of that listing tomorrow!

Proactive, two-way communication with Amazon is THE most important thing you can do to protect your account.


Want to learn more about protecting your business?  

Join Chris McCabe, Founder of EcommerceChris, LLC, and Leah McHugh,  Consultant at EcommerceChris, LLC their session at Prosper Show 2023 to learn how to spend more time on sales and launching new products and less time messaging Amazon by designing a proper communication strategy.