With all the big brands getting tons of protection from Amazon these days, why can’t smaller private label sellers get in on some of the fun?
Turns out, they can — to a limited extent, at least.
The Amazon Brand Registry program has been around for a while, and although it doesn’t offer nearly the level of brand protection as the gated brands are enjoying, it’s still a great tool for elevating your brand on Amazon and avoiding the kerfuffle of listing management that comes with being a “normal” Amazon seller. Plus, it might help you boot counterfeiters off your product pages.
What Is It?
The Amazon Brand Registry program lets you — surprise, surprise — register your brand with Amazon. You’re eligible for Amazon Brand Registry if you manufacture your own products or if you’re the brand owner of a product or product line. Find Amazon’s complete description of the Brand Registry program here.
In order to apply for Brand Registry, you’ll need to submit (in addition to all other required information):
- An image of your product packaging with branding visible on the packaging.
- A product image with your branding visible on the product itself.
- A link to an active website that displays your brand or products.
Brand Registry isn’t a prerequisite for selling your own branded product on Amazon — it’s just an extra bit of paperwork that says yes, you are definitely the brand owner of these products. That paperwork does come with a few benefits, too. See below.
What Does It Get Me?
Most notably, Amazon Brand Registry lets you have more control over the content of your branded listings. Gone are the days of every seller submitting edits and creating a tangled mess — you’ll get priority edits as the registered brand owner. More on the specifics of this below.
Brand Registry also lets you choose an alternative key attribute to uniquely identify your products. You’re no longer required to use a UPC or EAN — you can choose a manufacturer parts number, a model number, a catalog number, a style number… whatever you like, as long as it’s easily discoverable on the packaging and unique for each product.
Finally, Brand Registry makes it easier to deal with counterfeiters, inauthentic sellers, and any other harmful merchants wreaking havoc on your listings. Again, more on that later.
Listing Control: What It Means
When a regular Amazon customer looks at a listing, they see just that: one listing. Even when there are dozens of merchants selling the same product, they look at the product description (and title, and bullets) as if one single party wrote it.
This is usually far from the truth. Every seller of a particular product can get a piece of the listing pie — they’re all able to submit their edits to different parts of the listing. So, how does Amazon determine which edits “win?”
As it turns out, listing edit priority works on a “point” system. Points range from 0–100. The higher a contributor’s points, the more priority their edits get.
By default, all sellers for a listing have a priority of about 30 points. The seller who owns the Buy Box will get a few more points — enough that their edits generally get priority over other sellers. Sellers can also get slightly increased priority by contributing more edits than others, but the big one is Buy Box ownership.
As you can imagine (or as you may have experienced), this can lead to some very messy listings. One seller can edit the title one day, while another seller can win an edit for the product description the next day… It gets ugly. Obviously, a private-label seller has the Buy Box by default and therefore gets some priority for edits, but other sellers’ edits can still slip through sometimes.
That is, unless you’re Brand Registered.
By becoming Brand Registered, you instantly get bumped up to a priority of 50 points for any products under your brand. This puts you well above the give-or-take-30 points afforded to general sellers, so you can make edits with confidence that you’ll have a coherent message across all your listings.
Now, even though a priority of 50 points will put you well above other sellers, you’re not totally in the clear. There are mysterious forces out there whose edits can exceed 50 points… and by “mysterious forces,” I mean Amazon.
If Amazon Retail or Amazon Warehouse Deals start selling your product, for example, they can slap edits onto your listings with a super-high priority of anywhere between 50–100 points. There’s not much you can do about this other than emailing them and asking nicely.
Amazon pulling a deus ex machina on your listings shouldn’t happen too often, but it’s something you should be aware of. Keep an eye on your high-volume ASINs — they're the ones most likely to get hit with Amazon edits. Moral of the story: Brand Registry does pull your edit priority above the base level, but it doesn’t make your listings totally immutable.
Anti-Counterfeit? (Kind Of…)
Let’s be clear: Brand Registry is not designed to be an anti-counterfeit program. All it technically does at the moment is give your listing edits higher priority and let you use your own key attributes to identify branded items.
Brand Registry, to be extra-clear, does not prevent other Amazon merchants from selling your products. Unlike gated brands, your registered brand won’t have an approval process for third parties to sell it. It’s technically still a free-for-all when it comes to sales.
However, in practice, Brand Registry helps a ton when it comes to dealing with counterfeiters. Basically, Brand Registry makes Amazon more likely to respond to your infringement claims.
If you’ve ever submitted a copyright or trademark infringement claim to Amazon without being Brand Registered, you know that a response can take weeks — and that’s in the best case scenario. Sometimes, requests will go completely ignored.
With Brand Registry, however, Amazon already knows that you’re the brand owner, and they know the details of your brand. You won’t have to go through the tedious process of proving your ownership every time you want to submit an infringement complaint.
Additionally, we’ve noticed that Brand Registered sellers get responses to infringement claims much more quickly and reliably than non-registered sellers.
Of course, Amazon’s responsiveness isn’t completely guaranteed. However, Brand Registered sellers have their foot more firmly in Amazon’s door. You should have a much easier time getting your complaints heard, and the process of removing counterfeit listings should be much faster.
Considerations and Conclusion
Brand Registry isn't the flashiest program in the history of Amazon. It won't double your sales in a week, nor will it catapult you to the top of every category. Even within what it does, it’s not a foolproof system for preventing counterfeit, and it won't completely guarantee your edits have the highest priority.
Even so, it is a huge help in the long run. Shifts in your Amazon strategy don't have to have a giant impact — the small things will add up and build to your success. Brand Registry is one of those small things, and we think it's worth it.
However, there is one major difficulty that could come up — your products lacking a brand in the first place. In that case, you will have to design a brand and slap it on all your products and packaging. Adding branding and special packaging will increase your cost per unit by around 10%, so be aware of that. You'll also need to design a website for your brand, but you don't need to go overboard — a simple website created with Wordpress, for example, is just fine when you're starting out.
Looking to the future, Brand Registry may begin to offer more concrete anti-counterfeit benefits. Amazon has made it clear that they value the trustworthiness of their marketplace, meaning they value brands over the unreliable resellers that haunt branded listings. First, gated brands got protection; next, private-label sellers of all sizes might get similar protections. Don’t expect an announcement tomorrow, but keep an eye out for any news.
Have any questions or additions? As always, leave your comments below!