Stake your claim on Amazon or risk losing brand control, expert warns

By our News Team | 2022

With the world’s biggest online marketplace due to establish a shopping presence in Africa in 2023, CMOs must ensure brands are protected.

With news that Amazon online shopping will be available to South Africans in February 2023 – and Nigerians a few months after that – local CMOs should be aware that there could be risk to their brands and intellectual property, as opportunistic resellers look to take advantage of the new commercial opportunity.

This warning comes from global marketplace specialist, Incubeta Maze-One, which works with a range of clients such as Google, Hyundai, Netflix, HBO and L’Oréal.

Brand Protection

Photo by Joshua from Pexels

“While [Amazon’s arrival] offers local brands a huge opportunity, many marketing leaders will be understandably nervous of unscrupulous resellers taking advantage of all their hard work,” explains Tim van der Bilt, founder and CEO of Incubeta Maze-One.

Looking at what companies can do to mitigate the risk of bad actors selling counterfeit or similar versions of their products, Van der Bilt shares practical actions for local CMOs to take as soon as the local service goes live – and even before. Among them:

Stake your claim or risk losing brand control 

The first and most urgent action is to claim your brand. If you haven’t claimed your brand you can’t register to trade and you are not able to stop others from misusing your intellectual property. Even if you don’t want to sell on Amazon, or simply want to bide your time before beginning, at least you know your brand and your IP is protected. 

 Get the legwork done upfront, even if you choose not to trade

Understand that there are several steps involved in setting up a seller account, as well as a fair amount of documentation that needs to be completed. Once you have gone through the legwork, companies are able to control all elements of their brand – including the titles, the descriptions, images and video of their branded products. This means resellers are only able to compete for the prices at which they sell those products. 

 “Brands must understand that they can’t control who sells products on Amazon. What’s more, the platform is designed to drive prices down. While brands can get frustrated by this, they have to accept that this is a worldwide supply network and you can’t control that,” Van der Bilt says.

Check your pricing models to inform your strategy 

Although not available just yet, local brands will soon be able to check how profitable it will be to use the global network by checking out the FBA fee calculator. However, Van der Bilt believes the logistics and last mile delivery may make it a little more expensive for local sellers than in the more mature markets, which have highly effective postal services. 

 It’s not nearly as painful as you might think

Van der Bilt says if African companies have products they want to sell and distribute globally they should not feel overwhelmed.  

 “The fifth piece of advice is to keep calm. When we onboard a new client, we would set up an Amazon account locally and, if they want to trade globally, in all EU markets as well as the US. We would build relevant product content in seven languages, ship the product to one central fulfilment centre and then distribute it globally from there. Our work with enterprise clients around the world has shown us the efficacy of Amazon.”