How to Stop Unauthorized Sellers on Amazon

Last updated on: April 26, 2024
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In the dynamic landscape of online marketplaces, challenges to maintaining equitable competition and brand integrity are ever-present. Unauthorized selling on platforms such as Amazon has emerged as a significant concern, rewarding unscrupulous diverters and resellers who steal profitability from legitimate channels, who often deliver products unfit for use, and who attack hard-won brand value.

As a legitimate business owner, whether you are a brand owner, manufacturer, or authorized reseller on Amazon, the existence of unauthorized sellers is guaranteed to negatively affect your operations and revenue stream. The good news is that there are various methods you can use to stop unauthorized sellers and protect your revenue and brand… But first, let’s answer the question of…

What are Unauthorized Amazon Sellers?

Unauthorized Amazon sellers refer to individuals, accounts, or entities that sell products on the Amazon platform without explicit approval or authorization from the brand or manufacturer.

These sellers often acquire products through various means, such as retail arbitrage, purchasing from counterfeiters, liquidation, clearance, or wholesale, but regardless of how they obtain their inventory the one commonality is the lack of official permission from the brand owner to distribute or sell their products on Amazon.

The presence of unauthorized sellers can lead to a range of challenges for both consumers and legitimate businesses. Customers may face issues related to product authenticity, quality, and customer service (ie. The product they purchased may not be covered by warranty), as these sellers might not adhere to the standards set by the brand. Additionally, authorized sellers and brands can encounter problems such as price erosion, loss of control over their brand image, price wars, and violation of distribution agreements.

Amazon has implemented measures to combat unauthorized sellers, but the issue persists, necessitating vigilance and proactive brand protection strategies.

Common Types of Unauthorized Amazon Sellers

These are the common types of unauthorized Amazon sellers along with the challenges they give brands and legitimate sellers on the platform:

  • Counterfeiters. These sellers produce and/or distribute fake or replica products, deceiving customers and damaging the reputation of authentic brands/manufacturers.
  • Grey Market Sellers. Refers to vendors that source products through unauthorized channels, often importing them from regions where production costs and selling prices are lower, disregarding official distribution channels set by the brand.
  • Hijackers. They are unauthorized sellers who piggyback on existing product listings, taking advantage of the Buy Box without proper authorization. They may offer products at lower prices, leading to unfair competition.
  • Unauthorized Distributors. Some consumers may obtain products from unauthorized distributors who do not have the right to sub=distribute the brand’s goods for sale on Amazon.
  • Liquidators. Sellers who acquire surplus or liquidated stock, most likely without the brand’s consent, and then sell these products on Amazon as new, when in reality they should be listed as “Like New” or “Used”, without proper authorization.
  • Retail Arbitrageurs. Individuals who buy products from retail stores at discounted prices and resell them on Amazon as new for a higher price without the brand’s approval, potentially violating distribution agreements.
  • Used Item Resellers. Sellers who list used items as new without authorization, misleading customers about the condition, durability, and authenticity of the products.

What are the Risks Posed by Unauthorized Amazon Sellers?

Unauthorized Amazon sellers present several dangers to consumers and both brand owners and authorized sellers, including:

Potential Damage to the Brand

When unauthorized Amazon sellers operate, they very often do damage to a brand’s reputation due to the lack of quality control, which is caused by the sourcing of products from unreliable or questionable suppliers. This can lead to variations in product quality, and if customers receive substandard or counterfeit items, it can result in negative reviews and a diminished perception of the brand’s commitment to excellence.

The sale of products by unauthorized sellers often undermines the brand’s standards and can lead to a loss of consumer confidence. The presence of unauthorized sellers can dilute a brand’s equity, foster negative online reviews, and disrupt approved distribution channels, collectively causing significant harm to the brand’s overall reputation, revenue growth and overall market standing.

Impact on Pricing and Profit Margins

Aggressive price wars initiated by unauthorized sellers, who often undercut suggested retail prices, can create a perception of instability and devalue the brand and its products. This type of competition poses a substantial risk of impacting the pricing and profit margins for brands and authorized distributors.

As unauthorized sellers acquire products through unauthorized channels or in ways that don’t align with the brand’s pricing structures, they can and often offer products at significantly lower prices than authorized sellers, attracting cost-conscious consumers. This not only diverts sales away from authorized sellers but also leads to a depreciation of the brand as customers may question the consistency and value of its products.

The downward pressure on prices can destabilize revenue streams for both the brand and authorized distributors, making it challenging for legitimate sellers to maintain sustainable, competitive pricing, and operations. As unauthorized sellers flood the market, authorized sellers and value add partners find themselves unable to sell a line profitably, which leads to pressure to buy product for less cost, or to simply drop the line resulting in a real loss of revenue to the brand. Additionally, unauthorized sellers, who often make attempts to obscure identities or product sources, may not be bound by contractual agreements or distribution policies set by the brand, further complicating efforts to control pricing and protect profit margins within the Amazon marketplace.

Consumer Trust Issues

As mentioned before, illegal Amazon sellers ruin consumer trust by undermining the integrity and authenticity of a brand when they sell its products. When consumers purchase goods from unauthorized sellers, there is an increased likelihood of receiving counterfeit or substandard items, leading to massive dissatisfaction.

The sale of products through unauthorized channels is guaranteed to create confusion among consumers, who may question the legitimacy of the products and the brand’s ability to control its distribution network. Moreover, the potential for price fluctuations and inconsistent product availability from unauthorized sellers can lead to a perception of unreliability, further damaging consumer trust.

In a nutshell, the presence of unauthorized sellers on Amazon can undermine a brand’s credibility, making it crucial for businesses to implement robust brand protection measures to maintain consumer trust and loyalty. It is the crucial responsibility of brands and authorized retailers to collaborate and stop unauthorized sellers for the sake of protecting their business interests.

Customer Service Challenges

Because unauthorized sellers only care about profits, they are more likely going to ignore customer service standards set by manufacturers and authorized distributors, resulting in a range of issues for consumers such as inconsistent post-purchase support and negative experiences for buyers.

Customers purchasing products from unauthorized sellers may encounter difficulties with returns, warranties, repairs, and other post-purchase support, as these sellers might not have the infrastructure or willingness to provide adequate customer care. Moreover, unauthorized sellers may not possess the necessary knowledge about the products they are selling, making it challenging for them to address customer inquiries or concerns effectively.

The lack of alignment with the brand’s customer service guidelines can result in inconsistent and subpar experiences for buyers, ultimately damaging the overall customer satisfaction and perception of the brand. To mitigate these challenges, brands need to implement stringent monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to identify and address unauthorized sellers promptly, safeguarding the customer service standards associated with their products on the Amazon platform.

Reasons Behind Unauthorized Selling on Amazon

The first reason for unauthorized selling on Amazon is the ease of access to products through various sourcing channels, including liquidation sales, clearance events, or wholesale suppliers, which allows individuals to acquire merchandise without proper authorization from brands or manufacturers.

Additionally, the allure of potential profits motivates some sellers to circumvent official channels, leading to the emergence of unauthorized selling which prioritizes short-term gains over adherence to brand policies. The vast and global nature of the Amazon marketplace also makes it challenging for the platform to scrutinize every seller thoroughly.

Some sellers exploit this by operating on the fringes of the platform, leveraging the anonymity provided by online marketplaces to engage in unauthorized selling without facing immediate consequences. Moreover, the lack of stringent gatekeeping measures may inadvertently encourage unauthorized sellers, as they find it easier to establish a presence on Amazon without robust verification processes. The combination of these factors creates an environment where unauthorized selling can persist, posing challenges for brands, retailers, and consumers on the platform.

How to Stop Unauthorized Sellers on Amazon

Now that we know what an unauthorized Amazon seller is, their common types, the risk they pose, and their reasons for doing so, let’s discuss the multifaceted approaches that combine proactive measures and responsive actions to help mitigate their impact:

Implementing IMAP Policies

Implementing Internet Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policies is a strategic approach that plays a crucial role in curbing the presence of unauthorized sellers on Amazon. By setting a baseline for the minimum price at which a product can be advertised, IMAP policies establish a level playing field among authorized sellers, preventing a race to the bottom in terms of pricing.

This stability in pricing discourages unauthorized sellers, who often thrive on undercutting prices to gain a competitive advantage.Moreover, when unauthorized sellers violate these policies, brands have a solid foundation for enforcement. This can involve filing complaints with Amazon, issuing cease and desist notices, and even pursuing legal action, creating a robust mechanism to combat unauthorized activity.

Overall, the implementation of IMAP policies not only safeguards the brand’s image by ensuring consistent and fair pricing but also establishes a proactive strategy to mitigate the risks associated with unauthorized sellers on the Amazon marketplace.

Legal Actions Against Unauthorized Amazon Sellers

Here comes the best part. As a brand owner, you might wonder if you can file a legal action against illegal retailers who sell your products on Amazon. The answer is a big “YES!”. When unauthorized sellers are caught, you can take legal measures that may include cease and desist letters, Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices, or even lawsuits for trademark infringement or breach of contract. These actions create a tangible risk for unauthorized sellers, who may face legal consequences, financial penalties, and the removal of their listings from the platform.

Legal actions against unauthorized sellers on Amazon serve as a potent deterrent and enforcement mechanism, contributing significantly to the prevention of unauthorized seller activity. The fear of litigation and its associated costs is a strong disincentive for unauthorized sellers, prompting them to comply with brand policies and cease their illegal activities.

Ultimately, lawsuits not only protect the brand’s intellectual property and the interests of authorized retailers and consumers but also contribute to maintaining the overall integrity of the Amazon marketplace by fostering a culture of compliance and accountability among sellers. When a brand or manufacturer takes legal action against unauthorized sellers, it sends a clear signal that violations of intellectual property rights and distribution agreements will not be tolerated, and will be met with dangerous consequences.


Brands and their authorized sellers should join forces to stop illegal Amazon retailers from operating. The best way to do this is to ensure you have an established pricing policy in place, and proactively enforce upon it. Ultimately, properly enforcing pricing policies and tracking unauthorized sellers helps preserve brand integrity, maintain product value, and ensure customer satisfaction. It strengthens market control, protects against counterfeit products, and enhances relationships with authorized partners. These actions are crucial for brands aiming to safeguard their reputation and secure long-term growth.

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Andrea Hurtado

About Author


Andrea Hurtado

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