Shop Talk: Tips for Managing Retail Partners Selling Your Products on Amazon
Q: "I hope you can help me. We sell our products to outdoor specialty retailers and websites as well as to consumers via our Amazon Webstore using the Fulfillment by Amazon model. We've noticed that some of our retail customers sell our most popular styles on Amazon as well, and oftentimes win the Buy Box. While we don't want to upset that relationship, we also don't want to forfeit higher-margin sales on Amazon by allowing them to list our products there. We're interested in developing a policy to address this issue. Any ideas to help?" — Ed Raftery, Vice President, TrailHeads
A: There's definitely not an easy answer here, but I think the best route is to carefully screen who you sell to and control how your products are listed on Amazon.
For starters, apply for Brand Registry status on Amazon. This is a fairly new program for Amazon. It gives manufacturers control over most of their content on Amazon so that other sellers of the same SKUs follow their lead on product naming, description, bullets and images. It prevents "beefed up" or misleading product claims.
While the Brand Registry doesn't allow you to control the price at which others sell your product, you can do that through your own terms and conditions of sales. For example, you can spell out that all product needs to be sold at a 50 percent markup (make this number as low as your best customer is selling it for). Be clear that markdowns require written permission. This will weed out bottom-feeder resellers. Then, focus on being in stock on every SKU as often as possible so you can win the Buy Box when your best customers are out of stock.
These strategies will also help you build your seller rating over time so you can win more of the Buy Box down the road.
Robert Behnke is the co-founder and president of Fair Indigo, an omnichannel retailer of fair-trade apparel, organic apparel, and U.S.-made apparel and gifts. Robert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.