Thanks to Amazon’s selling interface, Seller Central, any registered seller is permitted to sell both their own products, and products from other brands. Reselling is responsible for a huge portion of Amazon’s success, and now makes up more than half of the company’s revenue. In Q3 of 2022, third party sellers and resellers accounted for 58% of Amazon sales, so you can bet reselling isn’t going anywhere.
However, if you sell on Amazon, this isn’t always good news. Especially if you’re trying to build a strong and reputable brand. Under Amazon’s policies, unauthorised sellers (that is to say, sellers that are not associated with your brand) are able to list your products. You have no control over the product listings. You can’t even be sure that the product is genuine. It’s therefore imperative that you take steps to protect your brand. You can do that with brand gating.
What is Amazon Brand Gating?
Amazon brand gating is a tool within the Amazon Brand Registry programme. It allows brands to restrict the sale of certain products in the Amazon marketplace.
It’s completely free to use, and it means that specific products on Amazon unique to your brand can only be sold on the platform by an account with your explicit seller ID. The exception to this is if you choose to provide any authorised resellers with approval to list. This means that they will be able to sell your branded products alongside you on Amazon, but items will still be restricted to non-listed IDs.
How it Works
Amazon brand gating works by requiring approval to be given before products with a specific Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) are listed for sale. A gated product, or restricted product, is one that has been approved for protection by Amazon.
If a seller attempts to list a gated product, they will be asked to provide either proof of purchase or brand approval. Proof of purchase shows that a product has been lawfully obtained from the brand, or from a reliable retail business, increasing the likelihood that the product is, in fact, genuine. Brand approval shows that the brand or manufacturer has provided the seller with authorisation to resell the product.
When brand gating was launched in 2016, a hefty non-refundable fee was imposed on resellers, deterring those who were not serious about reselling. However, Amazon appears to have removed the non-refundable fee requirement for most resellers.
Who Should Use it?
While any brand can submit an application for brand gating, it’s not always necessary – or recommended – to jump in and restrict all your products. Firstly, brand gating is at Amazon’s discretion, and is only permitted where there is a real risk to the integrity and reputation of the brand. Secondly, it’s important to remember that there can be some benefits to having products sold by resellers, such as an ability to raise both brand and product awareness amongst a wider pool of potential buyers.
Brand gating is most often advised for larger brands operating in industries where the risk of counterfeiting is significant. Research shows that footwear, clothing, accessories, electrical items, toys, and perfumes and cosmetics are some of the highest risk categories. Therefore, if you operate within one of these sectors and are keen to protect your brand, you may wish to consider signing up for brand gating.
Reasons to Use Brand Gating
Over the past few years, shopper behaviours and values have evolved notably. Once upon a time, the primary motivator for buyers was price. They simply sought out the cheapest product. Today, however, things are changing. Buyers are increasingly looking for quality, and to buy from brands that share their values.
Today, your brand is your most powerful weapon. And it must be protected. Amazon brand gating can help you do just that by helping to:
Stop counterfeit sellers
Counterfeiting is, unfortunately, something that Amazon has encountered several problems with. Many of them have high profile problems. In 2021, Amazon actively prevented over 3 million counterfeit products from being sold on its platform. But even with robust measures in place, counterfeit sales can – and do – still happen.
Sellers may list a branded product, and include photographs of that product, but deliver a fake alternative that is of lower quality or even potentially dangerous. Counterfeit products can put buyers at risk and pose a threat to your reputation.
Increase your own Amazon sales
Not all resellers on Amazon are selling counterfeit goods. Many are selling authentic products, from genuine brands. While this can be beneficial in terms of exposure to broader demographics, it can mean that you’re splitting your share of on-Amazon sales with one or more resellers that are not associated with your brand. By gating your ASINs, you could take over your resellers’ share of the market and begin building direct relationships with customers. This is an opportunity to engage directly, expand your own customer base, and generate loyalty amongst more shoppers.
Protect your reputation
While resellers can bring benefits, the problem is that you have no control over how they’re representing your brand to their audience. Even if you’re not associated with the reseller, they’re still selling products featuring your brand name. And this means that the service they provide reflects on you. Amazon resellers may be slow to dispatch items, or not package them in a way that keeps them safe during transit. They may fail to respond to customer questions or communicate in ways that don’t align with your own brand values. And without gating, there’s nothing you can do.
Qualifying for Amazon Brand Gating
If you want to gate your brand, you’ll need to participate in the Amazon Brand Registry programme. Amazon Brand Registry is a scheme that’s designed to help brands protect their intellectual property and weed out poor or inaccurate listings.
Brand Registry works in two ways:
- It uses brand-provided information and machine learning technologies to automatically identify any listings for branded products that appear suspicious.
- It provides brands with access to a comprehensive catalogue of trademarks provided by the Trademark Office to easily identify copyright or patent violations.
Brand Registry is open to sellers in the United Kingdom, United States, and many other markets. To be eligible for Brand Registry, you’ll need to have a valid and active text-based or image-based trademark issued in your jurisdiction.
Set Up Brand Gating
Unfortunately, brand gating isn’t part of Amazon’s self-service seller features. If you are keen to protect your brand in this way, you’ll need to build your case for gating your brand and put forward an application for consideration and approval.
Getting your ASINs gated on Amazon is a three-step process:
Step 1: Make a list of all your product ASINs
First, make a list of all the ASINs that you want to submit for gating consideration. Amazon is unlikely to fulfil a blanket request for all branded items, and is instead more likely to consider products that are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting, or products where counterfeiting has already proven to be a major issue. Think carefully and strategically about which products would perform better with gating.
Step 2: Create a strategy for preventing counterfeits
Amazon does not view brand gating as a first line of defence in brand protection. Therefore, to maximise the chance of approval, it’s important to develop a strategy for preventing counterfeits, and collect evidence that shows other measures have been implemented but failed to fully resolve the issue. Collate evidence that cease and desist letters have been sent, and that you’ve tried other Amazon tools.
Step 3: Submit your application
There’s no online form for requesting brand gating. Instead, you’ll need to reach out to Seller Support, listing your ASINs, presenting your case for gating, and confirming authorised sellers. The review and approval process can take up to 8 weeks. However, it’s important to remember that not all requests are granted. If your application is denied, consider alternative methods such as Amazon Transparency.
How to Check if a Product is Brand Gated
Anyone with a seller account can check to see if a particular product is brand gated. On every product listing page is a ‘Sell on Amazon’ button. In most cases, clicking this button will start the ball rolling for a reseller to create their own listing.
For products that are brand gated, however, a warning message will be displayed, informing the seller that approval must be granted to sell that item.
Third party sellers can use this technique to see which products they can – and can’t – sell without having to provide either a recent invoice or request brand approval. Brands themselves can also use this technique to confirm that particular ASINs are protected. However, it’s important to remember not to use your own seller account to do this. As the brand, you will automatically have the right to sell your branded products via your Seller ID. You must use a different account to check for gating.
Advice for Third Party Sellers
If you’re a third party seller who relies on reselling prominent brands in the Amazon marketplace to drive revenue, then you may be worried about brand gating. For legitimate and genuine resellers, brand gating can feel unfair and problematic.
However, at ClearAds we advise all third party sellers against using blackhat strategies that are intended to bypass brand gating policies. For example, as brand gating often only applies to new or refurbished items, some sellers choose to list their products as being in a used condition to get around the brand gating restrictions. If caught, this could have big consequences. Your seller account may be terminated.
Our advice to third party sellers is to act in accordance with the guidelines. In some cases, this may mean needing to reach out to brands and request authorisation to resell their products in the Amazon Marketplace. Approval should be provided on paper showing the company letterhead, and explicitly state the ASINs approved.
It may also mean adapting your sourcing strategy in the future. If you currently source your products from retail stores or individual suppliers, it can be more difficult to prove that you have purchased an authentic and genuine product. It’s worth exploring ways to change your strategy to buy direct from the brand or manufacturer where possible. This will ensure that the brand has a record of your purchase and verifiable invoices, which can be presented to Amazon as proof.
We’re committed to helping brands protect themselves in the online space. But we’re also dedicated to supporting third party sellers and ensuring they’re using Amazon in a way that helps them to grow their business in a compliant way. For more information about protecting your brand or building your on-Amazon business, get in touch with our team. We’re here to make sure Amazon works for you.