The Brand Registry is a program and platform that is designed to protect your brand on Amazon from other sellers on the marketplace who could be guilty of selling counterfeits, copyright infringement or in violation of intellectual property.
Enrolling in the Brand Registry fundamentally provides your customer with a better, trusted shopping experience on Amazon while simultaneously protecting your hard-earned brand reputation.
Who Can Enroll in the Registry?
Amazon Vendors and Sellers, and for those who plan to start using Amazon as a sales channel.
What are the Enrollment Requirements?
In order to gain the “Brand owner” status, you’ll need:
• an active registered trademark present on the product or packaging
• a government-registered trademark number
• proof as the rights owner or authorized agent of the trademark
• a list of product categories in which the product should be listed in
• a list of countries where the products are manufactured and distributed
• an Amazon account
Benefits of the Brand Registry
Being enrolled in the Brand Registry grants better control and protection over a brand’s product pages and listings so customers can see proper information associated with the brand.
To curb infringements and counterfeits, Amazon provides powerful search tools for vendors and sellers to protect their brand: search by using images (logo/products), ASINs (per ASIN or a bulk search), and within global Amazon Marketplaces.
If counterfeit or infringing content were to be found, thanks to the brand registry, a seller or vendor could report suspected violations directly to Amazon and 95% of notices are dealt with within eight hours.
Another plus of the Brand Registry is the automated brand protection, which monitors and proactively removes any inaccurate or infringing content.
Examples of what can be eliminated include:
• product listings that aren’t for the brand and that incorrectly use trademarked terms in their titles
• images that contain the brand logo, but are for products that don’t carry the brand name
• sellers shipping products from countries in which the brand is not manufactured in or distributed to
• product listings being created with the brand name, when that brand has already listed their full product catalog on Amazon
Lastly, the Brand Registry provides 24/7 support in answering any questions and assistance for suspected violations.
Brand Registry Key Figures
• Over 60,000 brands globally have registered in Amazon’s Brand Registry
• Brands that are registered, on average report less than 99% suspected infringements than before enrollment into the Brand Registry
• 95% of infringement notices are answered within 8 hours
customer support 24/7
• 100 brands are using Transparency and have received 0 notices related to counterfeits for products enrolled
Transparency in business isn’t just a buzzword, it means providing clear, truthful information that’s free from any hidden agendas or motivations or in this case, Amazon’s new item-level tracing service reserved to those who are enrolled in the Brand Registry.
This service helps intellectual property owners protect their brand reputation, improve customer experience and fight counterfeit products.
With a Transparency-enabled product, one can find information such as the manufacturing date and place, etc.
Transparency checks are being implemented currently in US Fulfillment centers to “ensure that only authentic units of Transparency-enabled products are shipped to customers,” Amazon states.
One of the unique aspects of Transparency is that customers are able to authenticate the product themselves by scanning the barcode through the Transparency Application.
Transparency is available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
What you need to enroll in Transparency:
• Proof of verification as brand owner for the products
• Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) i.e. a UPC barcode on the products
• The ability to apply unique product codes on each manufactured unit
The Cautionary Tale of the Swoosh
The Land B.A. (Before Amazon)
One of the best-known brands in the world, Nike, has heavily relied on its brick-and-mortar locations, online shop, app, and its distributors (sports and department stores). Nike had thought it was best for the brand to have a “direct-to-consumer” strategy than using a third-party (Amazon) strategy for selling its products because they wanted full control over the messaging, its offerings, pricing strategy, product showcasing, and display.
The “direct-to-consumer” strategy for Nike, at the time, was a very profitable model. Nike has been selling its shoes on Zappos (owned by Amazon) but hasn’t been a big fan about this because oftentimes retailers can distort the brand image and customer experience. While Nike was holding out on Amazon, third-party sellers began to see a lucrative window of opportunity.
In the Meantime…
All the while Nike was holding off to sell directly on Amazon, somehow Nike became the number one most purchased apparel brands on Amazon. How could this be?
Third-party (3p) sellers who sell Nike’s products on Amazon.
Typically, these third-party sellers would buy legitimate merchandise from distributors like Sports Authority, Walmart, and even from discount retailers like T.J. Maxx. The 3p sellers then list and sell Nike products at a higher price point than what they had paid for, quietly undermining Nike’s control over pricing.
Customers on Amazon would find different prices for the same product thanks to 3p sellers, and this would cause confusion.
Moreover, customers on Amazon might have even mistakenly purchased Nike gear from a 3p seller that was actually a counterfeit.
During the 3p seller dominance on Amazon, Nike’s competition, Adidas and Under Armour, began to directly sell their products on Amazon and stealthily began to leverage the Marketplace to their advantage.
Nike is the most purchased apparel brand on the site, according to a Morgan Stanley survey. A recent search for Nike products on Amazon turned up roughly 73,000 items.
-The Wall Street Journal
If You Can’t Beat em’, Join em’
The shift from brand —> to retail —> to digital marketplace.
Nike was aware of the 3p sellers who were making decent profits off their merchandise, as well as counterfeit products being sold and wanted to crackdown on unlicensed sellers and counterfeits to get back their rightful share of the pie, that of which are the revenues generated on Amazon.
The giant swoosh finally caved and struck a deal with Amazon to sell their products directly on the platform as a First-Party Vendor (1p), under several conditions.
Nike would sell a small amount of product on the Marketplace in exchange for Amazon’s support on limiting unlicensed 3p sellers/distributors and regulating counterfeit Nike products. Amazon did take stern measures by informing its 3p sellers that they have 30 days left to sell their Nike inventory (apparel and sneakers) before the products would be no longer allowed on the Marketplace.
By selling directly on Amazon and enrolling in the Brand Registry, Nike could gain back control of their brand because they are able to identify, police, and remove blocked items whenever an unauthorized 3p seller tries to list one. Moreover, Amazon has recently started to require more detailed information from its 3p sellers to list popular brand names obligating them to provide proof of permission to sell paired with a one-time application fee.
A win-win situation? Yes and no.
What does Nike get out of this deal?
A new segment of customers, control of how products are listed and sold on Amazon, access to customer feedback and data, make some money off of Amazon’s distribution network and increase their product storytelling on Amazon. In a nutshell, Nike wanted to improve their customer experience, stay relevant while warding off counterfeits and resellers. Lastly, as a Vendor (1p seller) on Amazon, Nike gets a boost in customer trust with the “ships and sold by Amazon” tag on their product listings and more robust marketing tools.
What does Amazon get out of this deal?
A strong push into the fashion industry, a strong flow of Nike inventory and incremented revenue in the athletic gear department.
Direct-to-Consumer, Consumer Direct Offense.
Brands like Nike, cannot afford to sit on the sidelines anymore and must go to where the modern consumer is; online marketplaces. This deal struck with Amazon is a way for Nike to find new ways to sell directly to consumers through various new channels including e-commerce sites and through social media. Let’s be frank, Amazon is where the U.S. consumer resides.
Where are they now?
By placing strict limitations on resellers which eliminated 3p listings, Nike has been successful on reducing the number of 3p sellers and counterfeit items after launching on Amazon. Any extra sales for Nike outweighs any loss of control on how the product was represented beforehand. This has also allowed Nike to prioritize their listings. According to L2 Gartner research, Nike’s performance declined on the 3p marketplace, which was a positive outcome for Nike, however their 1p sales did not experience any outstanding performance. As a matter of fact, even after Nike began selling directly on Amazon as a 1p Vendor, the “Amazon Choice” product was sold and shipped from a 3p seller.
What Can We Learn From All Of This?
The early bird gets the worm.
Nike’s competitors and 3p sellers entered Amazon years before Nike did, which means they had the time to already get over the learning curve, experiment, understand and optimize their Amazon strategy. Nike lost first-mover advantages from holding off on Amazon but luckily they were able to protect their brand and reputation on the Marketplace.
Amazon drives reputation, not revenues in Nike’s case.
Being a Vendor or simply being present on Amazon, doesn’t guarantee strong performances and competitiveness. Even though Nike successfully removed the amount of 3p sellers, their revenues didn’t necessarily increase in the way they might have initially projected. The “Amazon Choice” Nike product was from a 3p seller, even after Nike was selling directly, this is partially due to the amount of time that particular seller had been successfully using the Marketplace.
There are other things that Nike needed to consider in order to drive revenues upwards, such as optimizing their listings (Amazon SEO), utilizing Amazon’s Marketing Services platform to increase sales and visibility, creating a dedicated store within Amazon, competitive pricing, and answering customer questions.
See image above:
At the moment, Nike is not taking advantage of the extensive marketing options a Vendor has on Amazon. For example, in the image above, Nike’s competitor, Reebok, is using Headline Search Ads which have a higher branding value and targeting Nike brand keywords to capture people who could be interested in buying Nike shoes or sports shoe in general. Nike should at least protect their brand by using the Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) advertising tools and expand beyond brand searches by competing on generic search terms such as “sports shoes” or “running shoes.”
On the image above:
Nike is utilizing Amazon’s A+ content that is reserved for Vendors to enhance their product listing with image rich storytelling content. This can be found towards the bottom of the page on the product listing.
To Tie Shoestrings Up
Brands selling on Amazon, must understand the environment of the Marketplace and consider all pieces of the puzzle to increase their revenues and protect their brand.
Let Nike, a top known brand, be a cautionary tale of how being present on Amazon, does not assure profitability or success. It is evident that Nike, through the Brand Registry, was able to eliminate unlicensed resellers and counterfeits to protect their brand on Amazon yet struggled with increasing their revenues on Amazon.
Just with a few little tweaks and a better understanding of the Marketplace, brands can very easily reach their objectives by leveraging Amazon, not just as a sales channel but treating it also as an advertising channel.
To truly maximize performance on Amazon we suggest to:
• utilize the Amazon Brand Registry to safeguard your brand from counterfeits or inaccurate listings
• develop an advertising strategy through AMS (for vendors) or through Seller Central (3p sellers) to protect against aggressive competitor ad campaigns and increase your share on the Marketplace
• optimize product listings that properly fit within Amazon’s requirements to achieve higher visibility and increase conversion rates
• create a dedicated Amazon storefront page which acts as a landing page in which your competitors are unable to advertise on making it an ideal place to drive traffic to from external sources like social media
• run display ad campaigns with Amazon’s Advertising Platform (AAP) within Amazon.com and on external sites for additional branding efforts, increase visibility and to drive traffic to your Amazon product listing pages