Amazon hijackers took over Jungle Stix!
If you’re a big a fan of Jungle Scout then you surely must know about the Million Dollar Case Study. And if you know about the Million Dollar Case Study, you’ve probably heard of Jungle Stix. Unfortunately, we discovered on July 3rd that our Jungle Stix product listing was taken over by Amazon hijackers!
Okay okay… I’ll admit, it was partly my fault. I’ll go into detail how we let Amazon hijackers take over our listing and you can start ringing the SHAME bell at me.
But I thought this might be the perfect time to discuss Amazon hijackers. In this article I explain what they are, how they take over listings, and what you can do to prevent them both before and after they sabotage all your hard work.
What are Amazon hijackers?
“Amazon hijacker” is a term for a third party seller or distributor who jumps on a private label product listings and offer the same (or a knock-off version of) your product at a lower price. Sometimes, they’re sellers who purchased your product at a discount through a promotional giveaway and are reselling your product. Other times, they’re manufacturers and counterfeiters who sell a similar product of their own and are using your listing and ranking to score high sales.
The reason this is often such a headache for third party sellers on Amazon is because Amazon hijackers often end up stealing away the Buy Box from private label sellers. This results in fewers sales and some times may even lead to bad product reviews.
What is the Buy Box?
When an Amazon shopper goes onto Amazon and finds a product that they want to purchase, the box to the right of the screen makes purchasing that product simple. All they have to do it click it once. And presto! The product is in their cart and ready to check out.
When you are the seller that has the Buy Box, you’re going to be the one that gets the most sales. And typically, the seller that has the Buy Box is the one with the best price. So when Amazon hijackers take over your listing, you could end up losing the Buy Box on your own product!
How did Jungle Stix get hijacked?
There are probably two big reasons why our Jungle Stix product listing got hijacked. First, we probably weren’t paying enough attention. In this article that I wrote back a couple years back, the very first tip I give for avoiding Amazon hijackers is to constantly monitor your products. Fortunately, one of the bloggers over on the Jungle Scout site noticed that our listing had a seller that wasn’t us. And we were nowhere to be found!
Yikes! So how did that happen?
We ran out of inventory.
Checking our forecast.ly inventory daily view graph, you can see that our inventory value is slowly diminishing. Then, sometime around the 1st and 2nd of this month, we totally ran out. The only inventory we had were those units that were still “in limbo”, either waiting for fulfillment or still in transit. This left our Amazon product listing wide open for Amazon hijackers to come in, throw up a counterfeit item, and steal our listing!
And here’s the worst part… they were selling it for more money than we were!
Let me offer you a huge piece of advice: whatever you do, DON’T EVER run out of inventory. Here’s why:
What can I do to prevent Amazon hijackers from taking over my product listing?
The best offense against Amazon hijackers is a good defense! After all, if you’re doing your best to prevet it from ever happening, that’s one less headache to worry about. Here’s a few tips for avoiding Amazon hijackers in the first place.
Keep an eye on your listing.
Once your product is live, it’s best to keep an eye on it periodically. A quick trick for seeing all your listings at once is to simply log in to Amazon and type in your brand or seller name into the search bar.
Register your brand.
The biggest and best shield you can put up around your products is a registered brand. Amazon’s brand registry allows you to become the certified seller for your products. And if you have a trademark, the process is pretty simple, too. Plus, once you’re a registered brand owner, you get access to new marketing channels, enhanced brand content and more. And if you ever do fall victim to a Amazon hijacker, Amazon is quick to action on IP violations. They’ll immediately ban the hijacker from selling your product and potentially suspend them.
Stay in stock.
SHAME! SHAME! Yes, yes… we ran out of stock. Pretty embarrassing, I know! But hey, it happens, and our fans love our Jungle Stix product. Plus, all the proceeds go to charity. So running out of stock, while not the best business move on our part, does tell us that we’re headed in the right direction. Either way, when you run out of stock, hijackers looking to exploit Amazon’s system find your listing, leap on it, and start selling your popular product at a marked up price.
For my own brands and Jungle Scout’s I use Forecastly to keep track of my inventory. While it’s shameful that we ran out of stock, we actually had a shipment of 4,000 units in transit! Unfortunately, we made a little boo-boo with the shipping label, so it got caught up in transit. But as you can see, even being out of inventory for three days can attract hijackers like buzzards.
Without Forecastly, I probably would have been out of stock for a month or longer. That could have been devastating for the product. Full disclosure, Jungle Scout purchased Forecastly earlier this year. But even before that, I was using Forecastly. It’s just a killer product! Plus, you get a 14-day free trial with it!
What can I do to get Amazon hijackers off my product listing?
Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid getting a hijacker. Either they leaped on your listing when you weren’t watching. Or like in our situation, snuck in when you ran out of inventory. That’s when you’ve got to switch gears from defense to offense.
Here’s a couple ways to get rid of these vultures along with the story of what we did to actually get rid of them.
Send the “Spooky Letter” to the hijacker.
Sometimes, a strongly worded letter with threat of legal action is all you need. Enter: the “Spooky Letter.” The “Spooky Letter” is by far the most effective method of dealing with Amazon hijackers. That’s the method we used. First, we sent this stock letter that we keep on file:
And it worked pretty quick, too. Check out this response:
I’ve used this letter for nearly two years now. And it’s worked nearly every time. At the end of this article, you can get a free copy of it to save on file and use it when you have to deal with Amazon hijackers.
If the spooky letter doesn’t work–or if you just want to lay the smackdown on ’em!–then go straight to Amazon and let them know what’s up. Amazon takes IP violations very, very seriously. And if your product is a trademarked item like ours is, they won’t hesitate to kick the hijacker off your listing.
Get My Free “Spooky Letter” Template
Hopefully this look into what happened with Jungle Stix gave you a little insight into handling Amazon hijackers. Below, I’ve included a link to the same “Spooky Letter” template that I use to deter bad sellers and keep your listings clear.
Here’s how you get it:
- Enter your email address below.
- We’ll send you a follow up email with a link to download this template.
- Save the template on your hard drive or in the cloud.
If you have any questions about Amazon hijackers and how to deal with them, leave a question in the comments section below!