What is Amazon Brand Gating?

Blogs | February 19, 2021

As anyone that has worked for a global brand can attest – plowing all your energy into building a successful product, only for fraudulent versions to appear in the market and destroy all your hard work, can be ruinous to your brand equity. 

We see this every day at POTOO HQ —  rogue 3P sellers listing counterfeit versions of brands, riding on the traffic your success creates. These sellers hide in the shadows, opportunistically listing on your brand’s ASINS, and prey on unsuspecting customers who were tempted by the cheap prices and unintentionally hit buy on a fake product. 

Often brands take the hard-line approach and remove any direct or authorized relationship with Amazon due to difficulty in policing, and some others adopt a different approach by taking Amazon to court in the EU for allowing resellers to sell its cosmetics on the marketplace without permission.

In its never-ending push for courting premium brands, Amazon realized it needed to step up and provide additional support for the fashion and luxury industry in order to actually attract those brands to sell directly (and thus also attract that lovely gross margin and media budget).

It’s been a back and forth battle between Amazon trying to create tools like Transparency and Project Zero that enable brands to self-service….. nefarious sellers finding ways around those tools…. and then brands (and increased government pressure) pushing Amazon to create more managed programs like its Counterfeit Crimes Unit. This is where a partner like POTOO can come in to help you navigate through this and accelerate your brand protection program. 

So what exactly is brand gating?

Gating is the process of brands working with Amazon to prevent any counterfeit goods from being sold by unauthorized 3P sellers on its marketplace. Amazon has the sole discretion to gate a brand around consumer-centric criteria such as safety, customer experience, counterfeit claims, IP Rights, or what we’re seeing more of now – negotiations with luxury brands around minimizing equity dilutive behavior. If successful, brands obtain the privilege of preventing unauthorized 3Ps from listing registered products for sale to consumers. 

Brand Gating is NOT an easy button. It is NOT a shortcut that bypasses channel strategy. It is NOT a mechanism by which a brand can limit the distribution of legitimate products due to commercial policy challenges such as promotional volatility or cross-border price arbitrage. 

To become gated should not be the final objective.. you will spin your wheels constantly with never-ending frustration. It is an outcome you obtain once you already have in place the foundations of marketplace policy such as selective distribution agreements, authorized seller lists, and a seller communication/takedown escalation process. POTOO can help with the latter to help your chances of success — but it is still at Amazon’s discretion. 

What is the work required to have a chance at becoming gated on Amazon?

  1. First thing’s first – make sure you are enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry program before applying to have your brand gated. 
  2. There will be some documentation needed to make the submission process as smooth and risk-free as possible:
    * Every ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) for each product you want gated
    * Registered trademarks for every marketplace you wish to become gated in (it is highly recommended to first activate Brand Registry in those markets)
    * Authorized seller lists if appropriate
    * Evidence of counterfeit activity along with the escalation and takedown process you have in place to combat counterfeit products IP infringing listings. Unfortunately, Amazon requires brands to show some level of commitment to self-policing before they’ll accept your request to be gated. POTOO supports brands every day on this through marketplace surveillance and test buys — we’re documentation nerds!
  3. You can then get in touch through Brand Registry or your vendor manager to request to have your brand gated and go through Amazon’s verification process.
  4. Be patient – there’s no set time for the approval process – but you should expect on average 4 weeks for the decision to come through. 
  5. If (with a BIG emphasis on IF) Amazon deems your brand and/or product to be important enough to have exclusivity and meets its requirements, it will gate the product and restrict 3P listings on your ASINS. 

If you’re one of the lucky and your brand is now gated… what happens next?  

If you are a 3P reseller of a brand that has achieved brand gated status on Amazon, you now need to obtain written approval from the brand to sell these products on the marketplace – even if you have already been doing so for some time. You may also be asked to submit invoices to prove you bought your products from the official manufacturer, and even sometimes pay a fee – which is used to deter counterfeit sellers from going through the approval process. 

Do not try to circumvent this process by selling as collectibles or “used like new” — Amazon is increasingly taking swift action on sellers that try to sneak their way past gating and this is something POTOO’s surveillance analytics pick up instantly. This will result in a ban not just on those listings, but on your entire seller account. 

How can POTOO help me?

POTOO supports brands to take back control over their listings on eCommerce marketplaces. We support brands through real-time surveillance analytics to catch unauthorized sellers and counterfeit rogue listings, advise on growth opportunities, and act as an extension of your brand protection team through a scalable takedown and test buy process. 

Learn more about how we can help you here: https://tinyurl.com/potoodiagnostic

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