The Merge Nightmare

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Glenn is a reader and regular commenter on Tamebay and sometimes he writes for us, sharing his experiences as an ecommerce trader. Today he shares his experiences of merged listings on Amazon:

MergeAnybody who has ever bought or sold on Amazon will be aware that many products are duplicated and that identical or very similar listings often exist for one product. There are several reasons for identical listings, some legitimate and some not. Apparently if a product is ‘Manufactured’ by a different manufacturer then the product listing isn’t considered duplicate.

When I listed an item of nightwear on an existing product page I received a rather snotty email from the company director stating that although my product might look like theirs it was not the same product, because their product had their own brand label and was manufactured solely for them. Civil action for breach of “intellectual copyright” i.e. the photographs was threatened and I backed down and created a near identical product listing. The product was identical in every way except the label and their photographs were ten times better than mine. I would have loved Amazon to merge the two listings, but apparently they are considered to be different products.

There are however hundreds if not thousands of duplicate listings where a seller has decided that the existing listing isn’t for them and they create a new product page. When you see the quality of some listing which include text like “Free postage”, “No returns allowed” or other totally inappropriate wording in the title you can understand why a seller might wish to create a new product listing page.

There are also many duplicate listings which Amazon decides to merge and therein lies the problem.

I have experience of one product a ‘Fruit of the Loom’ shirt being merged twice with another ‘Fruit of the Loom’ product and it took about 6 emails and several telephone calls to get the products unmerged. This product was merged, unmerged and then merged and unmerged again. Time and effort I could have used more productively.

Unfortunately things aren’t much better when two identical products are merged. Ideally the other product is merged with yours, but it could easily be the other way around and your product is merged with somebody else’s. If you are not happy with any of the text or images or any other part of the merged product be prepared to write emails to Amazon requesting they amend or correct matters.

The most common fault in my experience is that a products size or colour variation is shown twice i.e. your size and colour and also the other person’s size and colour. A potential buyer looking to select a particular size and colour is given two options and either option will only contain the product of one seller.

One solution is to permit sellers to create new product listing in “draft” and that the listing doesn’t go live until approved by Amazons catalogue team.

9 Responses

  1. Though I appreciate it may be frustrating when a seller asks you to remove your listing from theirs it is equally as frustrating when a seller lists against a listing you’ve created and worked extremely hard in getting up the ranks.

    We sell unbranded products which we import ourselves and then re-brand as our own using our own labels and each product has a bar-code which we pay for.

    After all the time, effort and money that goes into this it’s extremely frustrating when another seller comes along and lists against your branded product, undercutting you on a product you’ve got to the first page of Amazon and taking over the buy box. Though I appreciate this is how the Amazon catalog can work I do also believe that branding your own product is more than enough to differentiate it.

  2. Hi Tim
    I truly do appreciate Craig’s frustration. As a seller who has created hundreds of new product pages on Amazon I also get frustrated when a new seller comes along and undercuts me. As a VAT registered business with office premises we have numerous overheads and my lowest sale price is always going to be higher than a part time seller working from their spare bedroom. I hate it when the time and effort I put into creating a quality listing is ‘high jacked’, but that is the way Amazon works. As a seller of clothing I often have many variations in size and colour of my parent product and listing takes time and I would love to say “This is my listing only!”, but it doesn’t work that way.

    I honestly don’t think that attaching made up labels to unbranded products justifies selling them as ‘Own Brand’ products and claiming exclusivity of a listing.
    I would like Amazon to provide some protection for sellers and the quality of listings to be improved, but don’t hold your breath.

    Thank you both for contributing.

  3. The problem is that many sellers assume that the product is generic and they have a right to sell under that listing. I manufacture my own products and I’ve been targeted a number of times. I have threatened legal action against sellers as is my legal right.

    Many sellers know full well that they don’t have the same product, but are willing to trade off the reputation of another product/ company and avoid paying the Pro Seller fees to create listings and spend time and money on creating a good listing. It’s so inviting to hi-jack a listing with hundreds of five star reviews on page one and undercut the original seller.

    Even if it is an actual generic product; regardless of it being solely created for them, the seller will have attached a brand name to the listing, some more obvious than others, but it’s still a trademark/unregistered trademark infringement. The original seller may have spent money marketing and advertising the product, so they will be very protective of that listing.

    On the other hand I don’t want to have to wade through 100 pages of generic fake ipod cables! I blame China for all this mess!

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