Season 1, Episode 104
Should you Give Amazon your Manufacturer Info?
Chris: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. Welcome back to another wonderful episode of Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris here with Leah McHugh.
We had an interesting question come in from one of our listeners about sharing manufacturer info with Amazon.
I think the bigger question is there’s some confusion over how much information you have to give Amazon about your manufacturer or your factory. Some people say, oh, you have to share all this stuff, supply chain documentation, phone numbers, contact info, links to websites, and then other people might argue, you know, actually you don’t have to share everything about your manufacturing partners.
So, I thought we could start there based on that question. What do people really need to show Amazon?
Leah: Yeah. I mean also it depends what regional marketplace and also in what context is that information being provided in.
So in terms of the manufacturer attribute on the product listing, generally speaking, you would just input, like if it’s your branded product that you have contract [00:01:00] manufactured for you, you can just put your brand there as the manufacturer for those purposes. You are essentially the manufacturer, much like, you know, apple is the manufacturer of Apple products, even though Apple doesn’t actually own any factories that does the manufacturing.
So for those purposes, for the forward facing information on Amazon, unless you have a different type of agreement with your manufacturer, which is sometimes the case, generally speaking, you would just put yourself down as a manufacturer. But when Amazon is asking for specific supply chain information, that’s a different story.
You can’t just say like, it’s us. And that’s the end of it.
Chris: That’s where it comes up a lot. Yeah. All the confusion over, I need a verifiable supplier website. Amazon didn’t take my invoice for whatever reason they rejected the invoice. But we’re our own private label brand or we make our own products.
That’s the context that we usually hear. I think within brand registry and some intellectual property issues that comes up in other ways, other contexts.
Leah: Yeah. Well, and [00:02:00] also even on the compliance side of things, if you’re selling a medical device, and you’re the manufacturer is registered with the FDA, particularly for 5 10 Ks, you would then need to show the relationship between the person that owns the pre-market approval for that product and your brand that is selling that product under the brand.
So again, it really does depend on the context, but you do need to be able to show. The relationship, I guess, for lack of a better term, between whatever that person is and you, who is the final brand on the product.
Chris: Those are compliance teams, right? The ones that you’re dealing with consistently as our compliance consultant extraordinaire because obviously I’m seeing it in another context where it’s just, Somebody questioned the authenticity of the product, even though it’s your product. Send us the invoice, those copy and paste emails that everybody gets. Who’s the supplier, who’s the invoice? And as we’ve seen lately, lots of rejection of invoices and rejection of suppliers.
Even if the original complaint was inauthentic, [00:03:00] right? Or the original complaint was item condition, this wasn’t new. This wasn’t authentic, but they’re private label brands, right? In the old days, these were let’s say a lot easier for investigators to pass through. Once they understood they were dealing with the brand, all you had to really do was send the invoice, oh, this is who we get it from.
Oh, supplier of a private label product. Great. They’d check it off and take it. These days we see everything under the sun in terms of rejections, unexplained rejections. Brands are calling into account health. Trying to figure out why was my multi-year invoice that was always accepted, suddenly not acceptable.
And there’s never really been a great explanation from the Amazon side on that.
Leah: I mean, I think it’s just tightening things up over the years as a lot of their loopholes were maybe exploited. And they tend to either tighten up too far sometimes, or sometimes they just tighten up the wrong things that weren’t really an issue to begin with.
But yeah in terms of who is providing that information to Amazon, I think a lot of sellers [00:04:00] are concerned about providing their manufacturer information to Amazon because rumors still abound about how Amazon is going to take your manufacturer and steal your market share and create a duplicate of your product, and like, yes, they have done that in the past.
I’m not gonna say that that didn’t happen, but I think Amazon has figured out pretty well at this point that they make a lot more money from you as a third party seller than they do when they try to sell your products themselves. We see that kind of across the board really in terms of their own private label brands and also even the vendor central side of things.
I mean, that’s certainly not getting the attention that it once was from it.
Chris: I don’t even know if I know why that is, because if they’re actually co-opted your supplier, your manufacturer, why would they have a much harder time than you would.
Leah: Oh, I know why they make less money, because when things go wrong, as with a third party seller, [00:05:00] if something needs to be returned or customers aren’t happy, the seller eats the cost, not Amazon. So when they’re selling the product themselves, suddenly they’re eating all of these costs that they had previously passed on to the third party seller. That is why they make less money.
Chris: Not that part so much. Just in terms of are they having trouble with the co-op, the factory and the manufacturer, and then all of a sudden they realize that the factory is copying the product and competing with the seller, the manufacturer.
Leah: That may have happened as well. And also Amazon isn’t really a seller, so a seasoned seller is probably going to do a lot better at promoting. I mean, if you look at Amazon’s own private label detail pages, they’re not great. So I think sellers are better at selling the products on Amazon than Amazon is.
And also, Amazon could just pass on all the little costs that they don’t wanna deal with to the seller, which they can’t do when they’re selling it themselves. So it is very unlikely that Amazon is going to try to steal your manufacturer to sell your product. Also, it’s a different team. And [00:06:00] again, I’m not saying this hasn’t happened, you know, they did testify at Congress and there was a whole bunch of documentation that was given to Congress about this, and yes, they have definitely done it in the past.
But the likelihood of the seller performance team or the compliance team, having that conversation with the retail buying team about who manufactures your product is pretty low. And I think it’s even lower now than it was in the past. So in terms of providing that information to Amazon, I think that shouldn’t be so much of a concern to sellers.
Chris: So what else should people think about, what other confusions exist out there, do you think, on this topic? In terms of manufacturer, supplier info, what Amazon’s likely to ask for, what they have been asking for, what they shouldn’t be asking for and in terms of rejections of appeals or rejections of any documentation?
Leah: Yeah. Well, the last episode we did talk about supply chain documentation. I guess we didn’t explicitly state that it was [00:07:00] for private label brands. But I think maybe some private label brands, because they are the brand, don’t think that they need to have all of the same information as a reseller necessarily would on an invoice.
And that is, not the case. You still need to have all of your contact information that matches seller central, all of your suppliers contact information. You still need to have the product identifiers and that is something I see a lot with private label brands. It just will say like their brand name, and then a part number or something like that.
You still need to have those universal product identifiers. Even though they’re your product identifiers. You still just need to make it easy for Amazon to connect those dots. We also briefly touched on this in the last episode, but if you are actually manufacturing the product yourself, you need to maintain a separate entity for the manufacturing that’s separate from the entity that sells on Amazon, because Amazon won’t accept what they call self issued invoices.
Where you just would basically write an invoice to yourself within the same company, which doesn’t actually make sense. So you need to have that separate entity in order to invoice [00:08:00] the selling entity for the products that they purchase to sell on Amazon, for Amazon to accept those invoices and that’s another area where we see a lot of sellers who manufacture the product themselves.
They don’t really think that they would need to have invoices for that, or they have invoices for maybe the raw parts or the raw ingredients of the product rather than the manufacture product itself. The invoice requirements and the documentation requirements for private label brands are as strict as the requirements for resellers. So you need to make sure that you have that information. Even if Amazon needs you to write a letter of authorization to yourself. I’ve seen it.
Chris: Well, that’s kind of a sidebar how they ask brands for, do you have a letter of authorization?
I mean, those are Stupid things that account health reps throw out there, which I think aren’t really required to complete that review or investigation.
Leah: Even on the brand registry side of things, I’ve [00:09:00] seen requests for letters of authorization.
Chris: But some of the seller performance messaging, and I think a lot of account health reps are getting mixed up when they suggest I think they’re kind of not even aware if they’re talking to the brand owner on some of these calls. So that did create some confusion, but The creating a separate entity and what you were just talking about, I feel like people have come a long way and they understand that concept a lot better. Now than they did, let’s say in 2020.
Leah: Yeah. I think just if you’re getting started manufacturing your own product, this isn’t something that you really think of. And what often happens is that if you don’t really think of it at the start, five or ten years pass and you’re still operating the same way and it doesn’t really come up until there’s a problem.
And then you can’t really backtrack and create a separate entity to invoice yourself in the past. So it is something that I do still see come up. I think the main thing is just you need to be able to document all of the relationships. And that’s something that we’ve definitely talked [00:10:00] about before.
Anything that doesn’t exactly match or anything that where there’s a gap, you need to be able to document how they relate to each other. And that again, is where we see a lot of private labelers run into issues because like it’s their company and it’s their operations and they just don’t really think about having those legal documents to show it.
Chris: So don’t take anything for granted. That’s good. Closing words of advice and anyone has any questions on these related topics, especially what manufacturer supplier info needs to be shared with Amazon, in what context and what doesn’t. Let us know. We’re always happy to answer questions and thanks again for listening to Seller Performance Solutions.
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