Warning: Amazon is Overwriting Listings

Every private-label Amazon seller knows it’s important to have full control over your listings and their content. You need to be able to display a consistent message across your entire listing that represents your product accurately, contains the necessary keywords, and, of course, does a good sales job.

If you’re a fairly well-established private label seller, you should feel as though you have pretty good control over your listings. By being private-label and using FBA, you should own the buy box by default, unless something goes horribly wrong. Plus, if you’ve enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry program, you have even more control over your listings. No one should be able to waltz into your page and change anything, right?

Wrong.

The Saga of the Bluetooth Keyboard

One seller we work with, Plugable Technologies, learned the hard way that your listings are never entirely safe. Here’s what happened to them.

Plugable offers a folding Bluetooth keyboard that comes in two sizes: Compact and Full-Size. Both sizes had almost identical listing content. I say “had,” not “have,” because Plugable looked at the listing one day and noticed that something wasn’t quite right.

Here’s the original, complete listing for the Full-Size keyboard.

Plugable Full Listing

As you can see, it details the product’s compatibility, the included case and physical design, and basically everything else a customer would want to know.

Now, look at the “new” listing for the Compact keyboard.

Plugable Overwritten Listing

It’s a bloodbath! There’s nothing left! Compatibility information is gone, all information about the look, feel, and what’s included was removed, and the title doesn’t even indicate that it’s a Bluetooth keyboard any more! Anyone can see that this listing is much lower-quality than the original. Even worse, any edits that Plugable submits don’t go through. The page is stuck like this.

The culprit? Amazon.

More specifically, Amazon Retail started selling the compact size of the Plugable keyboard, and overwrote the contents of the listing as a result. To understand why they’re allowed to do this, we have to take a look at how edit priority works for listings.

Edit Priority for Amazon Listings: A Recap

We’ve gone over listing edit priority in this post, but here’s a quick summary in case you need a refresher:

  • Every seller of a certain product has a listing priority measured in “points,” which range from 0–100. The higher a seller’s points, the more priority their edits get.

  • All sellers have a default edit priority of around 30 points. The seller who owns the buy box earns few more points, so their edits usually get priority.

  • The Brand Registered seller gets an automatic bump to 50 points, so their edits get priority no matter what — among sellers, that is.

  • The only entity that can get a priority over 50 points is — you guessed it — Amazon. Their various sales programs, like Amazon Retail or Amazon Warehouse Deals, have an edit priority of anywhere between 50 and the maximum 100 points.

So, Plugable’s listing was edited by the only party with a higher edit priority — Amazon itself. Even though Plugable is a private-label seller and is Brand Registered on Amazon, any edits they try to submit won’t appear on the listing, because Amazon Retail has them completely beat in edit priority. What’s worse, sales have been visibly affected by this change. Customers evidently aren't getting enough information to feel secure in their purchase.

What About Me?

This could happen to you, too! Plugable’s listing overwrite wasn’t an isolated event — we’ve spoken to a number of sellers who’ve experienced the same problem. The overwrites seem to be mostly affecting fairly large sellers, but anyone with a high-velocity item is at risk.

Amazon Retail or Amazon Warehouse Deals can start selling your products at any point, and overwrite your listing content in the process. Even if you have the highest possible edit priority available to third-party sellers, you’re still vulnerable to these kinds of listing overwrites.

Your highest-volume products are the most susceptible, as Amazon will target those products first. You’ll have to keep an eye on your top sellers and their listing content yourself — Amazon won’t notify you if they overwrite your listing.

So, what should you do if this does happen to you?

There are two courses of action you can take, and neither of them are ideal or guaranteed to work. Unfortunately, both courses involve contacting Seller Support, so strap in for the long run; the solution could take a while. Here are your options:

1. Ask Support to Replace Amazon Retail’s Content

The first path: send your desired listing content to Seller Support, then request that they overwrite Amazon Retail’s edits with your own content. This fix usually works relatively quickly (by Seller Support’s standards), but it is by no means ideal. That’s because you’re still not free to edit the listing.

Here’s the problem: it’s Seller Support making the edits, not you. Seller Support is allowed as much edit priority as it needs to beat out Amazon Retail’s edits, but they won’t give you that same priority. Your listing will technically contain your content, but it will have been submitted by an entity with even higher priority than Amazon Retail. If you try to make edits to the listing in the future, they won’t go through.

If you use this method, you’ll have to contact Seller Support every single time you want to edit the listing.

Obviously, this isn’t optimal — it’s more of a quick-and-dirty solution that will create more headaches in the future. If you’re willing submit a support ticket every time you want to make edits to your listing, you could try this method out, but we really don’t recommend it.

Instead, try this:

2. Ask Support to Delete Amazon Retail’s Content

Rather than asking Seller Support to overwrite the Amazon Retail content, you can ask them to delete it entirely. This would allow you to repopulate the listing with your own content and edit it whenever you want, without having to go through Seller Support every time.

In an ideal world, this would be the best solution. However, in practice, a number of things will get in your way:

  • The support agent may not know how to remove Amazon Retail’s content. You might have to contact Seller Support multiple times until you find someone who knows how.
  • Even after you find the right support agent, there are dozens of fields in a listing — all of whose content could have been overwritten and would need deleting. Despite this, Seller Support will often remove only one field per ticket. They never change, do they? Again, you’ll almost definitely need to reach out to support multiple times before the listing is totally cleared.

Evidently, this method can turn into a massive headache, especially when you take the slow nature of Seller Support into account. However, if you can bite the bullet and slog through Amazon’s support process, getting Amazon Retail’s content deleted from your listing will help you massively in the long run. You want full control of your listings, and this is the best — if most painful — way of getting that back.

Conclusion

I wish I could offer a simple solution to this problem. Unfortunately, neither solution we know of is easy, quick, or scalable. If multiple products are having their listings overwritten, you’ll need to go through this process multiple times. As far as we can tell, contacting Seller Support is the only way to undo Amazon’s destructive changes to your listings.

If these listing overwrites continue to cause problems for you, your best hope is that Amazon becomes aware of this problem at a higher level and does something about it. Even notifying sellers when their listings are overwritten would be a step in the right direction. However, we both know Amazon — they're not known for being the most responsive company. Don’t hold your breath for a sudden change in policy.

Any questions or additions? Have you had your listings overwritten by Amazon? If so, were you able to deal with it successfully? Leave your comments below!

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