Competition among FBA sellers using Amazon FBA is tougher than ever in 2018. As more sellers enter the market and sell on Amazon there are bound to be a few sellers that skirt out the lines and break the rules.
These unethical black-hat tricks are usually done by 3P Amazon Sellers to get a quick boost in their sales and creating an edge over their competition. However, there are always risk involve when you break the rules.
Here are some of the black hat tactics that were used in the past or are being used today by many sellers on Amazon
Force Lighting Deal
You were able to force a lighting deal for some of you slower moving products even if they didn’t qualify.
All you had to do was manually edit the url and replace the qualified SKU with your own SKU.
https://sellercentral.amazon.com/merchandising/manage/lightning-deals/create/[Seller SKU ID]
This method was great for getting a nice BSR boost and increasing turn over rate by featuring front page lightning deals.
Before incentive reviews were allowed with the reviewer claiming that they got it for free and it was there honest opinion. It got a bit expensive offering 100% off coupons for reviews. Some sellers would leave unverified reviews from different accounts writing generic 5 star reviews and then flood the latest 15 reviews with incentivized reviews. Customers never really scrolled past the first two pages for reviews. This method made it look like a lot of people had reviewed the product at the same time saved the seller significant product costs.
Parent & Child listing abuse
Still very popular today – Sellers would create parent-child product variations adding in old abandoned private label products to their listing as a child bringing over the reviews to their main listing. This increases the review count for their product and creates more social proof. The draw back is the question & answers and reviews of the unrelated product comes onto the listing, which shouldn’t be a problem as favorable reviews are pushed up to the top
Wishlist, Reivews, Upvote Click Farms
Still very rampant today and hard to detect. There are services out there that can help you push your product to the top of the wishlists for your categories, vote questions about your product to show favorable information and down vote negative comments about your product.
Vendor Express Listing Abuse
It was easy for manufactures and other private label sellers to sell on Vendor Express. Through Vendor Express sellers were able to sell directly to amazon at a wholesale cost and ship to amazon directly. Rather than shipping to multiple fulfillment centers and selling on consignment.
It is important to note is that when signing up for VE in the past, Amazon will require a trial run and start off with small quantities and scale up with more orders.
Amazon will buy from you at a wholesale price that is generally non-negotiable. Amazon will initially ask vendors for their selling price (MSRP), and will respond with what they expect to pay.
Basically, you’ll provide Amazon with a free shipment of your product, which they will then sell. If it sells and Amazon is happy with it, they will continue to place bigger bulk orders with you. Amazon will not pay vendors or return the product if it doesn’t sell.
Blackhat Sellers would open legal entities and start sending cheap product into VE. They would first list their own product on seller central first and list it at a high MSRP.
We’ll use a iPhone case in this example (since they’re cheap to manufacture). Sellers would list their case for $35 and then the night before the Purchase Orders are generated and then they would purchasing there own product. Purchases would start slow and ramp up every weekend. This would increase the order quantity from VE and they would order more.
The POs would increase in dollar value each week until they receive a PO big enough for units enough to cover there initial fake order cost and there profit. By manipulating the sales volume at such a high velocity they trick Amazon into ordering more of their over priced cheap product.
Once the payout goes through after 90 days – Amazon might recognize that the product is actually a dud and the sellers stop the fake orders. They will charge back the vendor to take there inventory, but by that time the bank account is already closed and the legal entity of that business is abandoned.
Selling on Amazon you will face a unethical competition using black-hat tactics. There will always be people who value shortcuts over honesty, fair play, and customer service. Join our Amazon Community with like minded private label sellers and keep updated with the latest black-hat strategy.