Beating the Black Hats on Amazon

There are plenty of people who can’t be bothered to work out their own business model or product – they just want to cream the profit out of someone else’s. Unfortunately, they flourish on Amazon, as some honest sellers have found to their cost.

For instance, one nasty little trick some of them have used is to generate lots of fake reviews on their competitors’ sites to get their accounts suspended. While their rivals are trying to get Amazon to reinstate their account, they take all the business.

So make sure that you keep an eye on your reviews. If you see reviews that appear clearly fake, be proactive – alert Amazon. You might just be in time to avoid trouble.

That’s true whether the reviews are positive or negative. Equally, if you see bad reviews that you think are actually faked, engage with Amazon. (There’s a help page at  https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/YRKB5RU3FS5TURN?language=en_US detailing seller review policies.)

On the other hand, if you have real bad reviews, engage with what’s being said. Make your product better or sort out your packaging issues, whatever it is that’s the problem. In some cases, it just takes a bit of rewriting on the product page. For instance, if you sell a craft tool that’s intended for light use by amateurs, and you have a buyer complaining that it doesn’t stand up to continuous professional use, you need to refine your description.

Another black hat technique is trying to get vendors suspended through fake copyright infringement claims. That can kill your business dead if it happens just before Thanksgiving or Christmas, for instance – and guess where the business will go instead? It’s always a good idea to have a file where all your trademark and copyright information is stored so that you can provide it easily and quickly on request, and get reinstated as quickly as possible.( And don’t forget to back that file up.)

Click farming abuses the systems that generate rankings, using bots or hired clickers to push products to the top of customer wishlists, or vote up favorable reviews – or, if you’re the leader in the market, they might try to vote down your five-star reviews.

There’s not a whole lot you can do about this. Your best way of competing is by investing in good SEO, having the best and most useful content – and the best product. And also of course in building your channels off-Amazon, such as your own website, blog, and social media accounts.

There’s quite a lot of counterfeiting going on, too. Some sellers will buy your product, switch it for a low-quality copy, and then file a complaint or leave a negative comment. Meanwhile, they’re actually selling the low-quality copies themselves but claiming they’re the real thing.

Worse, they may buy your product when you have a sale, then resell at just slightly under your price – stealing your margin. Be aware, if you appear to have one buyer making multiple orders, that they may be black hats.

There’s only way to stay on top of the situation and that’s to monitor your channel constantly – and if you don’t have the time to do that, find an outsourcer who will do it for you. Check your product listings, check your sales patterns, and check your competitors’ listings to make sure if anything abnormal happens, you spot the issue quickly.

Always report such issues to Amazon – even if they do nothing on some occasions, you’re letting them know the scale of the problem.

And if anyone ever approaches you telling you they work for Amazon, and they can (for a fee, naturally) help you boost your sales in one of these ways, make sure you get their name and number. And then go straight to Amazon.

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