Amazon’s self-proclaimed “obsession with customers” ensures that its marketplace is as convenient for the customers as possible. This enables Amazon’s ever-increasing growth. One important aspect of streamlining the process is to provide the purchaser with both relevant and trustworthy results. The trustworthiness, especially, had been undermined in the past years by a great number of sellers engaging in malpractices such as brand counterfeiting and unauthorized reselling. This is where brand gating comes into play.
What is brand gating and why is it important
Amazon offers brand gating to manufacturers and authorized resellers to retain the control over their brands and labels. Brand gating is a process in which third-party sellers wishing to sell a branded product need to apply and fulfil certain criteria set up by Amazon. This prevents counterfeiters and unauthorized resellers to continue selling your products. By asking Amazon to have your brand gated, you protect your brand not only from the potential loss of sales due to third parties leeching them off your share, but also from the loss of brand trust thanks to sub-par counterfeits reaching your customers.
The history of brand gating goes back to 2016 when the shoe producer Birkenstock quit selling through Amazon exactly because of the rising concerns about the spread of counterfeit selling in the US marketplace. However, reselling is essential to Amazon’s success. In Q1 2019, Amazon stated that third-party selling is growing faster than first-party selling. To keep selling brands that do not approve of having their products listed directly through Amazon, the retail giant implemented controversial measures such as purchasing stock from authorized third parties to resell the products globally. This was met with contempt from Birkenstock’s CEO.
Brand gating, on the other hand, is a welcome addition to Amazon’s growing number of seller-oriented instruments fighting misuse by bad actors.
What brand gating means for third-party sellers
In order to sell brand-gated products, third-party sellers need to prepare to overcome a variety of measures Amazon put in place to prevent violations. As an authorized reseller, you can expect to:
- be checked on your past performance
- have to fulfil certain qualification requirements
- pay fees
For instance, Amazon can ask you to provide recent invoices for purchases from manufactures or letters stating their consent to reselling their branded products. The fees for each brand you want to sell can go up to thousands of dollars.
Best practice: It is not recommended to try going around the restrictions and selling the items as used or as collectibles. By not adhering to the process, you risk getting your seller account terminated.
You can request selling brand-gated products on the bottom of the right bar on a product detail page.
How to get your brand gated as a manufacturer?
By following a few simple steps, you can protect your brand on Amazon:
- Register your brand as a trademark in the country where you wish to sell.
- Enroll in the Amazon brand registry.
- Contact Amazon and deliver a list of your most important and/or most counterfeited ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number) to Amazon
- Let Amazon know of resellers you authorized to sell your brand
Register your trademark
You can register a trademark through your local intellectual property office, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the USA. Amazon requires either a text-based mark or an image-based mark with words, letters, or numbers. Note that registering trademarks typically incurs fees.
Enroll in the Amazon brand registry
Now that you have your trademark registered, get started with Amazon Brand Registry. Providing Amazon with information about your brand helps them take proactive steps to identify potential infringements. Moreover, it gives you insight into your brand presence and lends you powerful tools such as image search to manually detect product listings that you did not authorize.
Contact Amazon with a list of ASINs to be gated
Joining the brand registry program is not enough to have your brand gated. To initiate the process of brand gating, write to your local seller support contact and send them all necessary information about your brand. If you have an IP lawyer, let them do it instead, as it shows Amazon that you are not taking the protection of your brand lightly. To speed up the process, which normally takes up to five weeks from start to finish, give Amazon a list of ASINs that are your most important assets. Amazon will ultimately brand gate all your ASINs, but if you need to take immediate action, providing them with a priority list is a good idea. It can also help to document your previous struggle with counterfeits.
Present Amazon with a list of authorized third parties
If you are not a sole seller of your branded products on Amazon, let Amazon know of any resellers that have your permission to sell. Even though the third-party sellers need to supply a written permission or invoices proving their purchase from you when they apply to sell a branded product, it is a good practice to offer these with your application to prevent any conflicts that might arise after your brand has been gated.
How to check if an item is brand gated?
Click on the “Sell on Amazon” button pictured above with a new seller’s account. Brand-gated products will display the prompt “You need approval to list in this brand” and a button to request the approval.
Brand gating is a relatively new way of protecting your brand from unauthorized reselling and counterfeiting. If you have the unfortunate experience of finding a counterfeit of your product eating up on your sales and destroying the trust customers put in your brand, you should register the brand in the Brand Registry and have the items brand gated as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact factor-a if you need assistance going through the process.
Now that your brand is protected, learn the best practices in measuring the impact on your Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS) of the customers who are new to your brand.