Practical Ecommerce

Will Amazon’s Brand Registry restrict marketplace sellers?

There are two types of Amazon sellers. Both can be successful.

The first type is a reseller of other brands. This is a highly competitive type of selling with very small profit margins. The most successful long-term resellers have some type of supply chain advantage.

For example, several of the larger resellers are actually manufacturers’ distributors that already have the logistics in place to buy and sell products. They also have the relationships with the manufacturers to purchase directly. This supply chain expertise provides them with a cost advantage over smaller sellers.

Other resellers execute a form of online arbitrage. They spend much time finding products they can buy for less money on one site and sell it for more on Amazon. They have to sell quickly or the prices will gradually come down as other online arbitragers find the same products and compete for the Buy Box. Since there are so many resellers for the same product, this is a continual fight for the Buy Box. And low prices play a big part in their success, which erodes profitability.

The second type of sellers is a brand. Smaller brands (such as Juice Beauty) and national brands (such as Tide and Gillette) sell directly on Amazon. Many of these brands are the only seller of their products. They have prohibited resellers from carrying their product.

They control the competition for their brands in one of two ways. They have contracts with their distributors and retailers stipulating where they can and cannot sell their brands online. Or, second, they provide Amazon with exclusives and sell directly to Amazon as a vendor.

Having these types of contractual stipulations is one of the ways brands maintain control over how their product is displayed and priced on the marketplace.

They also use Amazon’s Brand Registry.

What is the Brand Registry?

The Amazon Brand Registry gives brand owners control of their products on Amazon. This allows the brand owner to regulate the detail pages for their products. Therefore, even if someone else sells the product on the marketplace, the brand owner controls how it is presented.

The Brand Registry is open to any manufacturer or brand owner — no matter how small — that can prove ownership.

Controlling how a brand is presented on Amazon is important. Amazon — and, presumably, all brands — wants to eliminate counterfeiters on the platform. The Registry gives the brand owner more resources to remove counterfeiters.

Amazon does not stop someone from legitimately selling a product. But the Brand Registry expedites the process of removing inauthentic and unauthorized products and sellers.

How to enroll a brand

Brand owners can apply online to be included in the Brand Registry in their Seller Central accounts. The application includes several ways to prove ownership.

  • Images of the brand packaging and labeling with the brand clearly visible.
  • Images of the products sold under the brand, with the brand clearly visible.
  • A website link for the brand that includes images of the products.
  • A copy of the brand registration and trademark provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Unique product identifiers used by the brand. These identifiers need to be consistent, unchanging, and easily discoverable on the package, product, website, and catalog. Identifiers include: manufacturer part number, model number, catalog number, and style number.

Amazon will continue to greatly impact retail — online and brick-and-mortar — via tremendous customer loyalty, one-click checkout, and Amazon Prime. Many brands have figured out how to use Amazon as another customer acquisition tool to grow their overall business.

Amazon’s Brand Registry can protect a brand from counterfeiters and unauthorized sellers. My suspicion is that Amazon will use the Brand Registry to reduce the number of resellers on the marketplace. This will help brands be more successful and have less competition for their own products.

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  1. blyssegrace June 28, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for providing such a great article, it was excellent and very informative.

    • Phil July 1, 2017 Reply

      Thank you very much

  2. Alex June 30, 2017 Reply

    I’ve heard rumours of changes in this space….i.e. Amazon tightening down on brand registry to make it harder for resellers to sell on Amazon.

    Could you elaborate on your last point: “My suspicion is that Amazon will use the Brand Registry to reduce the number of resellers on the marketplace. This will help brands be more successful and have less competition for their own products.”

    I can see this happening with larger brands (e.g. Nike) that sell directly to Amazon) but how could they possibly do this to smaller brands who do NOT sell to Amazon?

    Where do your suspicions come from?

    • Phil July 1, 2017 Reply

      Let me clarify 2 points before we start. A reseller is a company/seller who sells other brands which they do not own. They play a game of online arbitrage and buy good cheaper in one place than they can monetize on Amazon. In many cases, they don’t care what product they sell, as long as there is a profit in it. Others focus on specific categories such as beauty or electronics.

      Then there are brands. They can be small, like my brand or large like Nike. These sellers own the brand outright and either limit who else can sell their products on different channels or do not allow resellers to carry their brands.

      As an Amazon seller and someone who has been on the platform for over 10 years, I see changes happening in favor of brands over resellers. Amazon has a problem with counterfeit goods. Over the last 2 years, they have come down very hard on these counterfeit product sellers and in many cases, suing them. The brands have put pressure on Amazon to do a better job of policing resellers.

      Over the last few years they have made it more difficult for resellers to sell on the platform. They have “gated” several categories like beauty, personal care, grocery and some others. In order to sell in these categories as a reseller, you have to prove that you have the authority to sell the products you are selling. You have to show a paper trail of invoices back to the manufacturer of the brands. If you can’t prove that, then you can’t sell.

      If you want to list your brand on the marketplace, then you have to join the brand registry and prove that you own the trademark to the brand and that you are the manufacturer of the product.

      Before the Nike deal was announced, Amazon began to stop certain resellers from selling Nike products. Resellers who were selling the products for years were no longer allowed to sell Nike on Amazon. This is not uncommon. There is only 1 main seller for all Proctor and Gamble brands. There are many others, large and small that are “locked” on Amazon.

      Why would Amazon do this? To preserve the brand integrity, maintain minimum pricing requirements for the brands and to build a better and safer marketplace.

      Let me know if this answered your question.

  3. Alexis July 9, 2017 Reply

    Hi. Our company uses Chinese manufacturers to make bed linens and we have placed a full container order with the plan to sell on amazon in the autumn. We have a brand – however it is not trademarked. Given the long processing time to get a trademark we are concerned about the new rules. Do we not qualify for prime? Are there any other concerns we should know about? Thanks! Great article.

    • Phil July 9, 2017 Reply

      Hi Alexis,
      I would file for the trademark. Absolutely. Because eventually, you are going to want it and need it. I believe the time frame is not that long. Especially if there is no objection to your mark. The Brand Registry will provide you with many more options and the mark is valuable.

      Qualifying for Prime and the Brande Registry are 2 different things. Prime availability for FBA is not a problem. But if you are an FBM seller, you can still qualify for prime. You just need to prove you can consistently deliver in two days.

      You want to own your brand and you want to own your trademark. In the long term, on Amazon, it will be worth it.