In the first week of July, Amazon announced that it will start displaying the business name and address of US-based sellers. The change was communicated to the sellers via email on July 8th Wednesday and will go into effect from September 1st. In this article, we will discuss the reason for the change in policy, the potential benefits and pitfalls, as well as tips on how beauty Amazon Professional and Premium Beauty sellers can gain more customer trust.
Image courtesy: Marketplace Pulse
Why this sudden change in the policies?
Amazon’s US marketplace is the oldest and the largest in terms of sales and customer base. However, unlike other marketplaces, just because the local laws didn’t require, Amazon chose to keep the identities of the sellers anonymous. Sellers were allowed to display the name of the brand and that was the only point of contact between them and the shoppers. Seller profile pages in Europe, Japan, and Mexico marketplaces already had this information available because of the local laws. But revealing any contact information of sellers has always been a big no-no for amazon.com, then why did it take such a step? According to Amazon, they are implementing this move to ensure that the shoppers make “informed shopping decisions.” Nonetheless, we anticipate that this change isn’t just about transparency; instead, this is Amazon’s yet another attempt to crack down the bad actors dwelling on the marketplace.
Amazon is not new to scammers; it’s been a long battle. The e-commerce behemoth has become a cesspool of fake products, fraud sellers and scams. A few of the categories are more vulnerable to scams, for example, the beauty and healthcare category. With a myriad of third-party sellers entering the arena almost every day and a low barrier to entry, it is difficult to identify whether the listing sells Radiant Creamy Concealer from Sephora or a China knock out. In the year 2018, $700,000 worth of fake beauty products were seized in LA, some of which had animal waste on them! Hard to believe, but it’s true. When it comes to beauty brands, buying from counterfeit sellers doesn’t only involve a monetary risk but also a potential health threat.
Amazon is well aware of the scams that have been taking place (because it has been accused of all of them) and in the past few years, it has implemented several attempts to put a stop to the counterfeits. The retail giant launched project zero, tracked suspicious seller listings and video-called the sellers to identify their authenticity. A few weeks ago, Amazon announced the launch of its new counterfeit crimes unit to crack down the fraudulent items sold on the marketplace. A report suggests that in 2019, Amazon spent about $500 million in tracking down fake sellers, closed over 6 billion listings and removed over 2 million accounts. It isn’t a coincidence that Amazon has started to favor the brand registered sellers more than ever, mostly because chances of frauds are way higher with unbranded sellers than with brand-registered sellers. Most of the new updates and features being launched on Amazon are available only to the sellers having a brand registry.
By removing the seller’s anonymity, the e-commerce mogul has not only promoted an ethical selling atmosphere on the platform but has also responded to the government’s vendetta and accusations against Amazon. The relation between Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and President Trump has always been rocky. Owing to that this April, the US trade representative placed five of Amazon’s foreign websites into the “notorious markets” list. The aggressive reinforcement of this policy is proof that Amazon has now started to take counterfeiting very, very seriously.
More than customers, it’s us, the Amazon retail beauty brands who will be benefitted:
Contrary to Amazon’s announcement, “We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions,” it is the industry that will benefit from it because most customers won’t even notice the change. As the business name and address will be displayed on the seller’s profile page and not on the customer-facing product detail page, shoppers are not likely to take an extra step to validate a seller before making a purchase.
Although the development will not stop any fraudulent sellers from faking business details or creating counterfeit entities, it will be easy for the Amazon professional and premium beauty brands to see the true identities of the third-party sellers who have been authorized to sell in brick and mortar stores but not online (yes they have been lying to you since so long). Moreover, brands are now able to directly address the counterfeits selling at a lower price on their listing. Amazon will be benefitted too because Shoppers can directly take legal action against the sellers without dragging Amazon through the mud.
It’s not all sunshine and roses
We already discussed the potential advantages of this move, now time to know about the pitfalls. First, as we mentioned earlier, the details of sellers still stay invisible for most customers as they won’t bother checking the seller before buying, so the policy changes won’t actually contribute a lot to stopping the counterfeits. If you are selling lipstick and there are many other sellers on your listing seller at a lower price than yours, the Buy Box would obviously be theirs (all hail the A9 god!!). If the product they ship is fake, you are the one who gets all the negative reviews and bashing.
Second, there are a lot of small-time sellers who won’t be comfortable showing their crucial contact information public. One of the sellers also expressed their concern over the issue.
Third, it’s easy to find loopholes out of this policy. Sellers with multiple fake accounts can just use a mailbox or virtual office or makeup names. Some sellers also put employee names on there and hide the account. We feel that along with disclosing the information of the sellers, Amazon should verify ID and banking information of the sellers to identify the fake sellers.
You can view and update your contact information by following the steps below:
1. Log into your Amazon seller account.
2. In the “Settings” menu at the top right corner of Seller Central, click “Account Info” to view your “Seller Account Information” page.
3. In the “Business Information” section, click the links for the information you want to view.
4. To change your business name, click “Display Name” and to change the address, click “Business Address”. Enter the new information or edit the current information.
5. Once completed, click “Submit” to save.
If this policy isn’t going to help Amazon professional and premium beauty brands build customer trust, then what will?
With more than 36% market, Amazon is, without any doubt, the largest online beauty retailer in the world and there is no better place to set up an online store for your beauty line. But because of the increasing number of bogus beauty brands, it’s hard to pass up a deal sometimes. Amazon is doing its best to regulate the category and one of the more recent instances is this policy change. However, it might not be very constructive at the moment.
Disclosing your name and address may not help you gain more customer trust, but here are a few tips that will help customer believe they are buying from a trustworthy brand:
#1: Keep an eagle’s eye on your reviews:
More than your copy or images, people read reviews. One or two negative reviews or less than a 4-star rating is enough to turn off the customers. So make sure your listing has the least possible negative reviews and if there are any, remedy them as soon as possible. Also, try to collect as many reviews as possible, the more, the merrier because when it comes to building trust, nothing works better than social proof.
#2: Make your listings look professional:
Would you trust a seller who has made a spelling mistake in his content or someone who has not-so-professional images? No. Always consider your Amazon store as your own website and optimize it that way. Along with an SEO-rich copy, it is necessary that you have enticing images, A+ Pages and brand stores like the name brands like L’Oreal and Maybelline have.
#3: Stay proactive:
The counterfeits don’t just pose a risk to Amazon but also you as a brand. If a customer is cheated by buying your product, he is never going to come back. Even worse, he will leave a negative review that will prevent other hundreds of customers from buying your product. If the shopper reports to Amazon, your product can be blocked. Although the scams are common, they are avoidable. A little alertness in such situations can save you big.
#4: Partnering with an expert Amazon Beauty Consultants:
We are a full-service Amazon consulting agency for both 1st Party (Vendor Central) and 3rd Party (Seller Central) with our primary focus in the beauty category. We have been working in the professional beauty industry for the past 10+ years and our Amazon selling consultants have helped hundreds of beauty brands sell more on Amazon.