Private Label FAQ For Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Must I set up a “real business” to participate in the Fulfillment by Amazon program?
No, you’re not required to establish a formal business to run an FBA operation. So long as you have a social security number, you’re good to go. However, depending on jurisdiction, business classifications can prove beneficial and sometimes allow for certain tax breaks, indemnity and anonymity. Speak to an accountant and private label lawyer; they can help determine if registering a business for your fulfillment by Amazon activities is the best way to go for you.
From where can I order my products? Are there penalties for manufacturing outside of the United States?
You can order your products from anywhere you like. (Caveat: avoid places with which the U.S. has a trade embargo.) Many people use manufacturers in Asia and India, then have the finished products shipped directly to an Amazon warehouse stateside. Why? To be blunt, it’s cheaper.
But be careful.
For starters, make sure your manufacturer is reputable. Join an FBA community; ask questions; get recommendations. Generally speaking, people in the space are helpful. If you feel strongly about having a “Made in the USA” label, check out thomasnet.com for stateside options.
Must I deal with Homeland Security if I want to import products to sell on Amazon?
The Department of Homeland Security is in control of many cargo ports. So, if you’re importing products from overseas, there’s a chance you’ll have to interact with the DHS – at least when it comes to paperwork. Depending on the products and places of origin, you’ll likely have to fill out documents that reveal the nature and destination of the shipment.
Do I need to formally trademark, copyright and patent protect the products I develop?
You’re not required to register products with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office. But, if you want to maximize your profit protection options, do it. Some FBA sellers just use Amazon’s brand registry program. It’s a good idea, but it’s not the same as formally registering. If you can’t decide, talk to a private label lawyer. He or she will assess your product line, go over a few scenarios where intellectual property rights could come into play, then recommend the best course of action based on your wishes.
Can I get negative statements removed from my listings?
Sellers frequently inquire, “Can I get bad reviews removed from my Amazon product pages?” The answer isn’t simple. Your chances of getting a negative post erased is dependent on several factors, including the exact statement, its location on the website, jurisdiction of poster, the circumstances leading up to its posting – the list goes on. If a competitor leaves a false, negative review, under your listing, in an ill-guided attempt to sabotage the listing, you may be able to win a trade libel lawsuit. Also, if someone reviews other posts on your listing, or seller feedback under the product listing, Amazon may remove it upon request, for simply being in the wrong place.
Someone is piggybacking on my listing. Is that legal?
A common FBA peril is the piggybacker – someone who latches onto another seller’s listings. It’s also called “hijacking.” Techniques for shaking piggybackers and hijackers are plentiful. Here are a few common tips to mitigate the hassle.
- Unique products are a pain in the neck to piggyback. Why? Because it requires more effort to grift off the listings. Piggybackers want things to be easy; they’re looking to shave time off the process. So, if you customize and bundle your offerings, they become harder to duplicate.
- While it may seem counter-intuitive, buying piggybackers’ products is a popular deterrent. Huh? Why give money to the enemy? For starters, to file a comprehensive A to Z complaint with Amazon (about the piggybacker), you’ll need all the information you can get your hands on. So, being able to hold and examine the rogue product is best. If, indeed, the product isn’t identical to the listing, there’s a good chance that Amazon will take action against the piggybacker; problem solved – and you may even be able to get a refund.
What if Amazon unfairly shuts down my account? Can I get it back?
The first thing to understand about the FBA business is that Amazon, the company, is god. Once you click that “I agree” box, you’re committing to the site’s terms of service policy – which, in part, is stricter than federal and state regulations. While Amazon is not obligated to maintain accounts (the terms pretty much give them the right to terminate at will), the company does admit mistakes and will often reinstate mistakenly suspended accounts – but not always.
Chat with a private label law attorney to find out the best course of action, for you.