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July 11, 2019

Amazon Black Hat Tactics with Kevin King

Unethical Chinese Amazon Black Hat Tactics with Kevin King


Amazon Black hat in China – What Chinese sellers are learning

Amazon’s response to Black Hat
Is it worth spending time worrying about Unethical black hat tactics in Amazon?
Yes it is serious.
Kevin likes to keep to white hat on Amazon. But he likes to know what’s Chinese Amazon sellers are doing.

Amazon Black Hat training in Canton

Kevin was speaking at the  MDS – Million dollar seller group with Brandon Young
They were invited to an event.
It’s a weekly meeting on Amazon black hat tactics- and there were 1300 people there!
It was a Sunday meeting – and it was all about reviews.
The following meeting completely new topic.

Chinese Communist Party is involved with Amazon Black Hat Strategies

They were in a side room with a promoter.
Then Kevin heard a loudspeaker – the Communist Party turned up.
If you have over 1000 people at a gathering, you’re required to ask the Communist Party.
Being a good citizen – like a mini pep rally.
In USA, they pledge allegiance; in UK, you might sing something! [not really! – ed.]

Professional events for Amazon Black Hat

There are 1300 people – nice room, 5 screens (like a big football match) – host is beautiful.
The 5-6 speakers that spoke (in Chinese) were all about getting reviews with Amazon Black Hat tactics.
These guys paid 30 RMB – $6-7 to come to the event
The info was things that in the USA, Europe, you’d pay $5-10K to learn!
Kevin and Brendon presented on  white -hat tactics – using Manychat (Brendon) and  postcards (Kevin)

Check out Helium10 Tools to start, run, and grow your business.

Chinese style product research

The next day they did a special event for $300 each  About 60 people came.

Brendon asked: how are you finding products?
Their system was look on Jungle Scout to figure out what to sell – get it made – and then use Black hat techniques to get it launched.   
Amazon Black hat tactics being taught in China

  • How to get 2000 buyer accounts.
  • How to get 2000 credit card numbers eg bank of America will give you 600 of them!

They have the inside SOPs from Amazon. eg “Don’t leave a review within 14 days”
However, most don’t do social media.

Why Chinese sellers use Amazon black hat techniques

One of the guys came over to the hotel – been in Wall Street Journal – spoke to a few of the guys.
Kevin asked him point blank –

  1. How do we compete with Amazon black hat users in China?
  2. Why are they teaching black hat in China?

The reason why is “because it’s super competitive in China. There are 1.4 B people here! Also we’re “communist capitalists” – if we see an opportunity to make money, we need to grab it. We’re not trying to build a brand.
We don’t care about having 50 amazon accounts.  Also, we don’t know whether the Chinese gov’t will make it illegal or tax us a lot. “
In the US or UK, economies more democratic. The situation in China is different.

Amazon Seller Black hat users – who is doing this?

Most of the 1300 people at the event turned out to work for big companies –
Kevin’s US friends say: Only about 60 companies in China  cause all the issues.
There is one doing $1B sales. They have 3 floors of a building, with 1000 people per floor.
They have people responsible for 5 products on Amazon; same products on eBay, 5 other guys.
Also they work almost non-stop – “9X9X6” – 12 hours a day, 6 days a week (9 am -9pm)
Work for $1000 a month!
Launching product after product – don’t care if 4/5 fail.

Amazon courting Chinese factories

Amazon is courting Chinese sellers – lightning deals etc.
Amazon is all about giving the customers the best price – that’s why they’re courting the Chinese so heavily.
Marketplace plus – 40% of all active Amazon seller accounts are coming out of China.
Most out of the Southern Coastal region:  between Hong Kong  and Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Yiwu and Hangzhou

Amazon Insider information

Black hat users often have inside info eg ASIN
The dashboard – like Anker – big seller of electronics

  • Can get entire dashboard of PPC.

They are paying off people in the HQ in Seattle.
There are different prices for different info, e.g., 
– $15K – know email address of someone who left 1 star review.

  • Getting a new SC account
  • Add your product in two categories.

Other Amazon sellers’ black hat tactics
“Brushing” – go online, order something and ship something to someone who didn’t order it.
Chinese students in US get contacted by groups to ask them to order things.
They know the pattern to create – only buy so much of this, of that..
They pay them back in WeChat, which is untraceable.
Most of the issues are sub 1000 BSRs – they are all looking at a top sellers on Jungle Scout.
Mostly it’s cheap stuff – buy $1 and sell for $9
50 units in an account cost $1 each, not an issue for these factories.
They also use shell companies in China to cover their tracks.

Amazon’s response to Black Hat

Amazon is not up to speed on black hat. 

Kevin got a meeting with this Amazon employee for around 30 minutes.
“What are your pain points?”
“Counterfeiters,” the employee said, “but we’ve solved that with brand registry 2.0”
So Amazon doesn’t  really understand what is happening – they are corporate executives so it doesn’t effect their livelihoods.

Amazon is divided

In some dept’s, Amazon is recruiting Chinese sellers heavily;
In other dept’s they are fighting them!

Training the Amazon reps

A Spain Account rep for Amazon He took Kevin’s course
“Before taking your course – my knowledge was 1/10
Now after your course, it’s a 7/10”
So Amazon does not understand the issues properly.
Kevin is friends with the black hatters to try to know how to compete!

How to deal with Black Hat Tactics in Amazon

Stay out of the cheap stuff

Stay over $20
It’s a race to the bottom.
Some factories don’t know what they’re doing, they are actually losing money!
It’s not necessarily a launch – they don’t know what they’re doing!
All they know is what is being taught in China.

Beat on innovation, image marketing, marketing

  • Social media is foreign to the Chinese
  • Unique products – Licensed, patented etc.


Quit sourcing in China because they get a 20-30% price advantage.
Eg sell German knives

Protection from Suspension

Cynthia Stine works with a lot of people who are getting suspended – it is really bad.
She is writing a whole book about this.
Some of the people at Amazon understand but they don’t see the depth of it. It needs fixing.

Shut down “Zombie listings”

Don’t leave listings out of stock but not deleted.
Black hatters can find those – they will then take them over via a Vendor account.
Vendor accounts have high level privileges – they can mess with any accounts on Amazon!
Eg change an old blender to pics of socks!

Get EBC (Enhanced Brand Content) as protection

Can’t change EBC from Vendor – so this lends a level of protection.

EBC helps with speed of resurrecting a listing if it gets hacked.  

Amazon will usually change back within 24 hours if this is clearly happening.
Sometimes you see a product that has 100 reviews which launched yesterday – if you read the reviews, they’re not about socks!

PDP – “Product Display Page” tampering

If you get in touch with Amazon – call it a case “PDP tampering on ASIN ….”
“The copy and graphics don’t match my EBC”
They know how to get lightning deals every day.
Amazon is closing down loopholes. But it’s like whack-a-mole.
Amazon may looking at merging Vendor and Seller Central at Amazon.
That probably means as 3rd party sellers, we are going to lose control
If you have seller central, that gives control.
Vendor means Amazon has to approve things.

Have a spare seller central account.

Go through the correct channels to get it approved by Amazon.

Kevin’s experience  – how to keep safe

Kevin (who does 7 figures a year on Amazon) has never experienced  account suspension.
He just had one zombie listing taken over once.
Doesn’t have things under $20
Likes products 50-100K BSR – 10-20 units a day or so
Other issue – people find crazy long tail products that sell one or two units a day.
Million products listed – say 10,000 sales a day – still a business.

Diversify sales so not over dependent on single SKU/product line

Having One or two SKUs responsible for 80% of sales is a big risk.
None of Kevin’s products are over 20% of revenue.
If they exceed that, he’ll deliberately slow them down.

Differentiation & Protection

Differentiation is also absolutely critical
You can buy rights for patented products
Or us a licence eg for Royal Air Force for say back packs or sunglasses
(Probably easier than Disney)
You can then shut down competitors easily if they are copying your product or listing.

Learning more from Kevin

Click here to hear more from Kevin on the Amazing FBA podcast

To check out the “Helium10 Elite” online mastermind (formerly “Illuminati Mastermind”) lead by Kevin King and Manny Coates, go to https://pages.helium10.com/register-elite?crsh_reqid=374520 

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Michael Veazey 0:56
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the 10 k collective podcaster up for six, seven and eight-figure Amazon sellers and e-commerce sellers. So we’ve got the amazing Kevin King with us Kevin King is a seven-figure amazon seller has been selling online since the mid-90s been selling on Amazon since the early 2000s. And just generally knows just crazy amounts about Amazon selling and is very, very expert. So Kevin warm welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Kevin King 1:23
Thanks for having me, Michael. I’m glad to be here. Hello, everybody.

Michael Veazey 1:26
Yes, great to have you here. So we’re going to talk about a less kind of jolly topic. But one this is really, really big, talking top point amongst the serious sellers who are actually out there every day fighting to keep their businesses working and thriving. And that is the black hat tactics specifically coming from China. So I thought I’d talk to you about this because I know you did. You’ve been over in China recently the Canton Fair, and you’ve obviously gathered a hell of a lot about this area. So first thing to say is, is this something that’s worth spending much time and thought about this? Or is it just one of these things is overblown, by the rumor mill,

Kevin King 2:02
you know, it’s serious, if you’re a big seller, it’s something you need to sit up and pay attention to. Because it’s going to affect you in one way or another. You know, I was I want I like to keep my friends close and my enemies closer sometimes. So I personally do not do any black hat stuff. I’ve never paid for reviews, I’ve never done rebates. I mean, that’s I’m really black hat but anything like that, where, you know, you pay pal at somebody back after the full price. I’ve never even done any of that. But I like to know what’s happening. And I’ve got some friends that are in that that black hat space, you know, and they they, their sellers are some of them aren’t sellers. And and they’re people that I know and, and we talked from time to time and RFID China, there’s several different guys, I’ll meet with them. I there’s there’s a couple different factions, you know, there’s a couple different groups of these guys, and I’ll meet with them. But one of the things that was really eye opening I just want to tell you is I was in China. Yeah, I was over there for the Canton Fair back in April, as I spoke at the global sources, and I was at the Canton Fair helping out the China magic group a little bit and doing some other stuff. But myself and Brandon young who’s he’s in the million dollar seller coat group, the MDS group, he and I were invited to speak at a an event for Chinese sellers. And over here, and in the United States, you know, we have these big events like seller, con 2000, people, you know, I do my events with 90 people. You know, there’s several events in the UK and in Europe with 100 200 people. And they happens periodically, you know, there’s several different people doing them. But in China, it happens every week. And it’s not a few hundred people, the event we went to is 1300 people, it was on a Sunday. And we were invited to speak. And this event was all about reviews, the entire Sunday from about noon until 6pm was nothing but about getting reviews, that’s the entire subject. And then the following Sunday is nothing about but about a bro or one of the other techniques. But on this particular Sunday, we show up there and we’re looking a little like VIP area, you know, little side room or whatever. And before it, I’ll start I’m in there with the promoter. And all of a sudden, I hear this loud speaker and all these people talking. And so what’s going on, you know, it’s event starting, as I know, it will start in just a minute. But what was happening is the Communist Party was there, it turns out that any event in China that has more than 1000 people, you required to invite the Communist Party to come and make a talk. So before the event started, you know, we’re in the United States, we might do our pledge of allegiance or in the UK before a football match, you might, you know, saying something, or salute the flag or whatever. But over there, it’s these guys come and talk and about, it’s all about being a good citizen, you know, you need to be a good citizen. If you see someone doing something wrong, be sure to report them and all this kind of stuff. And then there’s a big cheer and big every rah rah is almost like a little pep rally. And then we go to the event, the event starts you know, 10 minutes later, we go in there and these guys are gone. There’s 1300 people in this room. And it’s nicely done. The stage is nice, this, the screens are beautiful. like five, you know, it’s something that you’d see like a big football match or something these big, huge screens, the hostess of the hostess is really beautiful girls, like you’re watching a beauty pageant or something that’s introducing everybody. And the five or six speakers that spoke we were the last ones to speak the five or six speakers that spoke all is all in Chinese. So we had someone translating for us. We’re all about getting reviews, everything is about getting reviews. And this is stuff they pay these people paid the equivalent, it was 30 RMB, which is like the equivalent of about seven, eight, US dollars, somewhere around in there to actually come to this event, six bucks, actually six, seven bucks to come to this event. So like four pounds, is what it costs to come and submit. The information that was being shared was information that we in the West and in the US and in Europe, pay 5000 or $10,000 to go to a mastermind to learn and this for, you know, just a handful of quid less than the price of fish and chips or something. And it was just crazy what they were talking about. And so we get up there and me and Brandon, we spoke our stuff was was white hat, you know, is using many chat or is mine in my particular cases about how to use postcards. And it was super interesting to see. That’s the mentality. And so what we did is the next day, we did actually a special little event, because they allowed us to pitch something on stage that hey, the next day we’re doing an events like 300 bucks common what we’re going to be talking for a few hours. And we’ll show you teach you a few things. We had about 60 people come and we asked we asked them we said when they are their brand and say so how are you guys finding products and to a tee, their system was look at Jungle Scout  some big in China, look at Jungle Scout, see what the top sellers are see what the top 100 sellers are, go look at the reviews, see if there’s something they can fix or how the reviews are for the product, I think you’ll find a factory to make get cheaper. That’s their entire process for launching products. They’re not using all these tools, like we talked about in your other podcasts stuff and these methods to look at keywords, they don’t care. It’s basically top 100 can they get it cheaper, and then can they use their techniques, black hat to rank it all the crazy stuff they’re doing, they don’t care about proper ranking, they don’t have Facebook and social media in China, for the most part, they don’t understand it. I mean, some people have access to a VPN, most of them don’t understand it. They don’t care about that all they know. And what they’re being taught is, this is how you do it. This is how you do brushing, this is how you manipulate reviews, this is how you get 2000 buyer accounts, they’ve got the insight. So from China, I mean from Amazon, you know, so they know that exactly where to push the buttons to not leave a review within 14 days to make sure one account doesn’t leave this May, over this many reviews. Here’s how you get virtual credit card numbers, you need 2000 different credit card numbers, you know Bank of America and the US will give you 600 of them. Here’s how you do it, you know all these different they have all the systems in place to gain the system. And I was at the in China last year last October. And one of these guys came over to the hotel at the four seasons where we were in one show. I don’t want to name the name. But one of these guys, that’s he’s been in the Wall Street Journal. few other articles have mentioned his name. When he came in, he was talking to a few of us. And you know, he’s a little bit nervous at first to talk too much until you get to know some of the other guys that he knew was and stuff. But I asked him point blank I said, So look, how do we compete against these guys? You know, all they’re teaching over here is black hat and how to manipulate system. Why do they do that? Number one, why is that the way he said because the mentality over here in China is there’s you know, 1.4 billion of us or whatever the number is, there’s a lot of competition. So everybody, it’s super competitive. number one. Number two is this, we’re a communist country, this is capitalism. So we’re kind of riding that edge, China’s kind of on that edge of communist capitalism, you know, it’s a blend. And they’re like, we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know that we see an opportunity here to make a lot of money really quick. So we’re going to get in and make as much as we can really quick, we’re not trying to build a brand, we’re not trying to build a long term thing, if the way to make money really quick is to have 50 different seller accounts and just have burners and we don’t care. If they get shut down, we don’t care. Because we’ll build a system to where we can actually manipulate this and actually have enough accounts that we can keep going. And we can make the money quick because we don’t know what’s going to happen with us with the the Chinese government, we don’t know at some point, they’re going to start taxing let’s make it illegal and the Communist Party is going to do something versus in verses in the UK or Europe or the US. You know, we’re our economies and our governments are a little bit more stable and a little bit more and their democratic. So we understand like, hey, if this business doesn’t work today, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to do it next year, I’ll just have to start over and do it again, we don’t worry about that. They’re really worried that this is going to go away. Or there’s so much competition, someone’s going to beat them to the punch. Now I’ll be 1300 people that are in the room. Most of them are working for companies, they’re not actually entrepreneurs like me and you, but not all money, the most of those people are actually working for these big companies. And there’s probably I know a couple people over the couple of Americans that live in China and shins and, and they tell me that there’s really only about 60 660 companies that are causing all the problems. And some of these companies have five or 10,000 people working for them. They have 5000 seller accounts, there’s one that’s doing like $500 million plus per year and sales. Another one is doing over a billion dollars a year in sales. It’s got three floors, 1000 people, thousand 2000 people per floor, each, they got little pods, little you know, little office cubicles and stuff. And each one is responsible for like they have an Amazon, it’s not just Amazon, they have a group of people that are responsible for five products on Amazon. And then another group of people are sponsored with those same five products on eBay and other group that are responsible for those same five products on wish or whatever. And it’s just systemized, and these guys are willing to work nonstop. I mean, it’s called a 12 by 12 by six and China. So they work 12 hours per day, six days per week, I saw it’s nine by nine by six, sorry, I said it wrong. It’s 9am to 9pm, six days a week. And they work for peanuts. And you know, the equivalent of probably 500 to 1000 quid per month tops. And they’re just like robots, and they have these systems and they just stay on top of it. And it’s crazy what they’re doing. And some of them are just launching product after product. And they don’t care if it’s four or five, don’t stick, or four or five, just make a sale here there. It’s crazy what’s happening. But at the same time, Amazon is courting Chinese factories, they’re going to say, look, you see that? This guy, you know took a course on how to sell on Amazon, he’s going coming to you, you know, all he’s doing is selling it on our platform. Why don’t you cut him out his Amazon, his reps are saying the straight to their factory owners face. Why don’t you cut him out will help you with the dragon boat will help you with incentives will help you with will help you with some Lightning Deals, whatever. Because Amazon is all about giving the customer the best price. And they figured that if they can cut us out of the middle, the market is going to be less the customer is going to win is causing problems. But that’s the mentality. And so that that’s why Amazon is heavily courting the Chinese because if you look at the statistics from like marketplace polls that came out about a month ago, they did an analysis. If you go to marketplace, polls, com I think and see it, they did an analysis and they said that 40% of all active Amazon’s seller accounts worldwide are coming out of China worldwide 40% are now China and most of those out of the shins. And reason there’s I didn’t realize this till we spoke, there’s four main areas of China where all this stuff is happening. It’s chansons number one, which is not too far from Hong Kong is in mainland China, but it’s in between Hong Kong and Hong Joe. Gwangju is where the Canton Fair is that southern region of the big river region that that’s where a lot of the factories are. So it’s shins in Guam, Joe, he will he will area and Hong Joe, those are the four areas it’s not really Beijing or Shanghai or places as you might think it’s coming out and mostly for areas where all the factories are. And that’s where all these these guys are doing the black hat and it’s win at any cost they have inside information. They can get the reports on anything you want to ace and report know exactly which keywords are competing on anybody’s product in any market, you can get it, you want to see the dashboard. I mean, I can log in like say anchor is a big seller of electronics, I want to see their PPC dashboard. I can pay a few hundred bucks to one of these people if I wanted to. And I’ll get a CSV file of their entire dashboard, their PPC campaign exactly what’s working, what’s not you want. They got people on the inside. It’s not just people in China, they’re paying off people in the US too. There’s people in the in Seattle in the US and headquarters are our help helping facilitate some of this. And they could pay them off you need a you need a seller, Seller Central account, okay, it’s 15 grand you need a you need some to know the email addresses, someone left you one star review, okay, give us give us some money we’ll get we’ll get that for you. You need to be added to a second category. No problem, we’ll do it for you. So they have these, they’re willing to do that. Blah, these guys have like multiple seller accounts. There’s ways in China to set up these shell companies that they’re using. That’s just crazy. It’s insane. They’re doing what’s called brushing, are you what are you? What are they actual, will go online and order something and have it shipped to somebody’s house, it didn’t even order it just to get ranking. They’ll have it shipped to Amazon lockers. There’s Chinese citizens, Chinese students in the United States, for example, that come over here on a student visa, to go to university, there’s groups in China that will contact those students and say, hey, look, we want you to buy products here in the United States. So go on Amazon and buy something, but we’re going to tell you what to buy. And they know the patterns. So they make sure that they buy only so much they review only so much to stay under the radar. And then they pay them back and WeChat which is untraceable. Basically, there’s all kinds of things going on. And more most of the problems are the ones you need to understand is a big seller is where most of these problems are in the in the sub 1000 vs. ours. So if you’re selling anything below 1000 vs, or in a category, that’s where the vast majority of all this is happening, because they’re all looking at Jungle Scout stuff. And they’re all looking at top sellers. And that’s where their marketing and they’re going after cheap stuff, you know, stuff you can get in for a buck and sell for nine bucks. They don’t want to put in, you know, buy some inventory of an item that costs $20 landed and have the risk of five of those units or 10 of those units getting confiscated when their account gets shut down. But they have, you know, 50 units in an account that cost them 50 cents or $1 each, the account gets closed, they don’t care, they just abandon them. So that’s where the problem is, as a big seller, you need to understand. And that’s why I’ve mentioned another podcast and on yours, Michael that stay under $20. I don’t like to go under $20. Because it’s we’re all the nasty stuff happening. That’s where it’s always a race to the bottom. Even some of these factories are taking advantage of Amazon’s courting them. They’re getting into the game, but they don’t know what they’re doing. And a lot of them are actually losing money. So they’re putting stuff out on Amazon at prices. Like sometimes you go on Amazon like holy cow, this is less than I can buy it for. And like how they make any money, they must be doing a launch. Maybe this is temporary, it’s going to be for a week and they’re doing some I know you see the price. They’re constantly, they have cash flow, but they’re not making money. It’s because they don’t know what the heck they’re doing. And they’re listening to what’s happening in China, people are all the teachers black hat, they don’t know the proper way to do anything. And they really don’t there’s just a small handful of them that do. I asked the guy back on that story when he came to the hotel. You know, why did? Why did they do this? And he told me, you know, it’s because of the number of people in the come over nation and how long And lastly, I said, so how do we compete, he’s able to stay on the cheap stuff, number one, and number two, marketing, we can’t market. We don’t know how we know how to copy really well. But we don’t know how to market you can beat us on pictures on differentiation on innovation on that kind of thing. We can’t, we don’t know how to do that. We don’t know social media, we’re trying to learn but it’s kind of a foreign thing to us, we don’t understand it. That’s how you compete. And so that’s you got to get out of these commodities and these me to products and start getting into more innovative stuff, license stuff, patent stuff, stuff that you develop, or go towards a higher end, and you’re going to have a much, much less problems, and a better chance of success without having to fight all this stuff off.

Michael Veazey 17:28
Wow. Okay, that was quite, that was quite the epic view of what’s going on.

And as usual with you is incredibly thorough. And that’s just, that’s kind of amazing and terrible at the same time. But um, I guess that the simple thing you’ve done at the end, you’ve saved me asking the problem of it was starting to sound a bit so suicide inducing for anyone who’s the serious Amazon seller, but like, how do we compete is number one, stay over $20. And number two, the difference. So in a way, it sounds to me like there’s just more serious incentive to do what we always needed to do, which is stay out of the, you know, the race to the bottom, and make sure you’re staying innovative and keep marketing. But I mean, it’s a very eye opening thing. So

Kevin King 18:09
another thing you can do is not sourcing China, their competitive advantages, they can get a 15 20% price difference, because they speak the language and go down the street, they are there right there in the middle of the factories and stuff. They can they can and they have the time and resources to do it. So another way you can compete is quit sourcing in China and start sourcing in Vietnam or Indonesia or turkey or, or somewhere else or sell products from your country sell German made knives on Amazon instead of nice that come out China. Yeah, they may cost a little more, but the quality is probably going to be a better unit. These Chinese guys aren’t gonna compete, they can, they’re not going to do it. All they know how to do is knock knock you off it. And so that’s a that’s another way that you can compete right there, too. It’s just sourcing differently.

Michael Veazey 18:56
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Kevin King 18:58
On the protection side, too, is if I’m of the opinion, as of right now, hopefully Amazon will change this. And I know Cynthia Stein, she helps a lot of people get suspended, speaking with her about a week ago, and she was like, this is just crazy. What’s happening. These guys that all this black hat stuff, they’re putting people out of business, they’re messing with livelihoods. They’re messing with families, and they don’t care. So she’s actually writing a big book that’s going to come out in I think December about this whole thing. So I just an article with a very research book. She’s like, we got it, Amazon’s got to make change some of the people understand. And that was on that. But they don’t really understand what’s happening that they don’t understand the depth of it. And they don’t understand what’s really going on. And we got to make them understand because they’ve got to fix this problem. So until that problem gets fixed, if you’re a big seller, and you do not have a seller central account, I think you’re at high risk. Because with a seller central account, you have as at least as of right now, this can change, but you have godlike privileges on Amazon. So that’s how they’re actually doing a lot of stuff is these guys have Seller Central accounts, they can go in, they can find what’s called zombie listings. So let’s say you put out a product last year, you got it up to 100 reviews did okay. But for whatever reason it ran out of stock and you decide to discontinue it. Well, maybe you just left that sitting as suspended or are out of stock in your account, you never actually deleted it out your seller central account, they have tools and methodologies to go find those products. And what they can then do what they’re called zombies, they will then take them over. And they will use Seller Central, I’m sorry, a vendor account, a vendor account to actually take them over because vendor accounts have high level privileges. And vendor accounts as it’s set up right now can go in and mess with any product on Amazon. So they will find these, they will go in and take that take your old product, your old Blender that you were selling, and change the pictures to socks, a pair of socks, the only thing they can’t change is the ABC because you can’t do that from a vendor central account. That’s only it. So if you don’t have a VC, if you haven’t done that yet, you’re selling third party get that up right away, because either actually is a level of protection. Because if you do have someone come in and change your pictures, change your copy, change your graph, change whatever, and you have ABC, they can’t do it, they can’t change it. And so that’s a surefire way to show Amazon immediately. Hey, look, someone messed with my listing without permission that they didn’t even change the ABC, ABC for a blender, the rest of listings for socks. And Amazon usually will change that back within 24 hours, that’s a really fast way to get something changed back when someone messes with you. But they will go in, they’ll choose vendor central accounts and make these changes. And then they take that’s why you see sometimes a product that’s got, you know, hundred reviews that just launched yesterday, pair of socks, it’s got 100 reviews, you start looking at reviews, like these aren’t about socks law, these are about blender, they also merge listings, merge two things together, there’s all kinds of tactics and techniques that they’re using to manipulate the system. They know how to get Lightning Deals every single day. It’s crazy, because anything that can be programmed can be broken, or can be hacked. So they’re figuring out all the loopholes in the system, Amazon is closing some of them down. But it’s like Papa more, there’s more that are popping up. So it’s it’s a major problem and it’s getting worse, Amazon’s gonna have to do something, there’s rumors that Amazon’s going to come up with something called one vendor, where they’re going to actually merge Seller Central with vendor Central. Some people inside Amazon I’ve talked to deny that and other people say we can’t talk about it. So to me, I think there’s something some truth to it. But when that happens, I think that might help solve some of the problem and won’t solve it all. But as a third party seller, it’s probably going to hurt us a little bit too, because we’re probably going to lose control. Like right now you can go in and do your own bullet points, you can do your own pictures. And usually within 1015 minutes, it’s live on the site, versus if your vendor, everything has to get approved. So when you make picture changes, it goes through human eyes, and it gets approved, I think everything might have to get approved. So that’s going to, in some ways, going to make us play by the rules a little bit more, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your view on that. But that may be coming. And that may that may help some of it. But Amazon, you know, different departments are recruiting the Chinese heavily, and other departments are fighting them heavily. So it’s because of the way Amazon set up the right-hand doesn’t always talk to the left. And a lot of these guys don’t understand. I mean, I was in a licensing show a year ago in Vegas, and the keynote speaker for licensing keynote speaker there was from the merge department, which is you know, where you can do t shirts and hats and different things and Amazon prints and Koreans and amount. But he made a speech about some things they’re doing about merge. It turns out this guy used to be like one of the head of vice presidents of several other departments. And Amazon friend of mine was able to secure little meeting with him that afternoon. So we went to a boardroom in the Mandalay Bay and about 15 of us Amazon sellers, and they’re sitting around for like, 30 minutes, just you know, he just kind of wanted to give us the courtesy of talking to us and private. And he’s like, so where are your pain points. And we’re like counterfeiters, and, you know, people’s messes are listing and all this said all that all that’s fixed, you know, there’s Brand Registry to point O now, problem was solved that problem. Everybody in the room just looked at him and looked at each other, like, not even close problem is not solved, is like what do you guys mean? You know, we’ve plugged those holes, right? No, you haven’t. So we started giving examples. And it was just blowing his mind. He just doesn’t understand. And the people at Amazon, these people are corporate executives, they’re not for the most part entrepreneurs, they’re not in here in the trenches, they’re not dealing with this, it doesn’t affect their livelihood. So they really don’t understand the depth of it. You know, I just had a guy that took my freedom ticket course, which is, of course, for new people. He just gave me a quote last week. He’s he worked for Amazon, Spain, he was an account manager, actually an account rep, you know, like a Sam, for Amazon, Spain. And he said that his quote that he gave me, he took my course I don’t know how he found me to my course. And he said, After taking your course, or before taking your course, I worked for Amazon as an account manager, my knowledge of how Amazon worked was a one out of 10 after taking your course now I my knowledge of Him was on works as a seven out of 10. And so that’s illustrates to a tee the point of they don’t understand what’s happening and Amazon and all they think they solve a problem and they don’t, it’s going to be a constant fight. So that’s why I’m I’m friends with a lot of these people are no dumb is because I need to know, how do I find out what do I do? What’s my what’s my counter to it, or how do I compete, I’m not going to try to do all this black hat stuff and compete against that’s just for me, that’s a, that’s not going to work. So the way I compete is one, I have a seller central account to protect myself in case something happens knock on wood, it hasn’t yet, actually won. And I just happened one time sorry, on I got zombie on. Some people took over one of my old dog listings and change it out. But I don’t do anything under 20 bucks, I like products in that four to $10,000 range, the 15 to 20 sell units per day is good, because most of the Chinese guys aren’t going to mess with that. Because they’re either messing with a really big sellers, you know the stuff doing 50 hundred, you know, today and up, or the stuff that’s really cheap that you can buy for $1 and sell for 1399 or whatever, which I stay away from, where they’re messing with really, really long tail stuff like some of these guys that have these 3000 guys, thousand people per floor, whatever working for them, their job is to find everything under the sun. And so they’re finding all kinds of weird stuff that no sales one or two a day, and that they’re playing a numbers game, we can list a million products on Amazon. And every day, 10,000 of them sell one units, we sold 10,000 units that day. And so they’re playing that game too. And so I stay away from that. So I go into that, that range of where there’s to be in the reason they do this, because they don’t have to have much inventory. And so it’s easy for me to do. But I go in that area where it’s 1015 2025 units per day and that are selling, that’s the sweet spot for me and you put together. Yeah, one product is not going to, you know, make you a huge amount of money in there. But you put together five or 10 or 15 years, I have 17 active products under seven figures year, it adds up. And the beauty too is most sellers are selling privately on Amazon, you’ll find they’ve got one or two products, they’re like 80% of their business, they got one or two, they’re just killing it. And the rest of their stuff is just bringing up the rear. I don’t like having that’s too risky for me. So by having all these products in that 10 1520 units per day sales range, it’s kind of spreads the risk out, none of my products go over about 20% I think my best selling products 20% of my revenue. And if it goes much higher than that, I will deliberately try to slow it down, I will raise the price or something to try to deliberately slow it down because it’s too much risk. Because of that product goes 20% of my revenue is gone out the door if I get suspended or competitor comes in or something. And so by doing that, that’s how you compete the differentiation plan in the middle, maybe looking at licensing or product development, or are the marketing side region working out market them?

Michael Veazey 27:53
So they said, taking there. So let me just quickly sort of recap.

Kevin King 27:57
Sorry, I know I’m just talking and then let you get a word in edgewise.

Michael Veazey 28:01
Hey, man, this, this, this is fine. This seems to be fun. I’m the only person that took way too much. I listened back to my interviews and things Shut up. Mike asked a question. So this is great for me, you’re the expert. So a few simple things then. So to me, I’ve got very long on this one, we definitely want to get you back in and talk about this a bit more. But there’s been too long getting depressed. I think the things you’re saying is make sure you’re careful about zombie listing. So living things that are out of stock, maybe we need to be more disciplined go through our listings and delete them. I was thinking guiltily, when you’re talking about that I’ve got quite a few sort of zombie listings from past products have just not really had the heart to kill off properly, but I’m not really selling either. So it’s one thing getting ABC or enhanced brand content is protection. That’s a very simple thing for anyone who’s brand registered. So you just gotta get the trademarks. Anyone serious on these brands these days anyway,

Kevin King 28:48
it’s not protection, you can still get messed with, but it’ll help you get back up faster.

Michael Veazey 28:53
Okay, thank you. So as I’m protection, so sort of speed of resurrection sorts of insurance here. I’ll try to say that.

Kevin King 29:01
Yeah, it’s like obvious proof that something was messed with. It’s called. It’s called PDP. It’s got product display page tampering. And so like, there’s like when you if you ever have that happen to you join your products and you need to file open a case with Amazon don’t just open a case and send an email or call and say, Hey, someone messed with my change my pictures, they changed my graphics are weird. Don’t say that. You actually want to drop this I learned this from the Chinese. The word PDP like Paul, David Paul, tampering. Probably display pit stands for product display page tampering, if you drop that in your in your message, hey, I’ve got a case of PDP tampering on a sin blah, blah, blah, blah. If you notice the, the graphics and the copy and the title don’t match my ABC, my ABC is for a blender and everything else is for socks, Please switch it back. They’ll know that the person that support goes Oh, okay. He said PDP tampering I wonder how he knows it. But doesn’t matter. I have an SVP inside Amazon that’s called PDP tampering. Here’s the stuff do 12345 they do that they do they follow the recipe, boom, your backup.

Michael Veazey 30:05
Amazing, great. And that’s really, really helpful. I’m because it sounds like it’s just one of those things that can happen and just really mess with things. But the other things you’re saying is just don’t count on Amazon to understand what’s going on, which is a very good point. And I guess we’ve all experienced that at the sort of seller support level, whatever you call it the people in mostly Philippines that don’t seem to have a clue le but it sounds like he goes right the way up the organization. Plus, as you pointed out, the white hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing or is actively fighting it because it’s kind of divided rule culture, right. So, but the things you’re saying about how to keep safe, I guess us very straightforward, which I want to just re-emphasize. And before everyone sort of jumps off a cliff. Number one don’t sell stuff on the $20 within makes sense anyway, I mean, it’s going to be really thin margins is going to be constant fight. So this just pushes it even further away. The other one is going for a sensible range of beer and beer sorrow or per day unit sales. So if you go for 10 to 20, unit sales dances, we’ve bought things that sell one or two units a day, you’re kind of inviting on baby because most of the economics will work anyway. And don’t go for things that are so massively visible that invites buyer behavior. So that’s my understanding of it. Oh, yes. And diversify your sales don’t have one product being responsible for all your sales? And that’s my understanding if you’re kind of simple devices. Is that accurate? Any other thoughts on keeping

Kevin King 31:22
safe? Yep, that’s pretty, that’s pretty accurate, I would add to that differentiation and marketing, differentiation in marketing and considering doing license getting into licensing, or

Michael Veazey 31:34
patent stuff, Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So solutions are

Kevin King 31:38
stuff that you patent yourself, or you can find you can buy things that are already patent and buy the rights to them, sometimes pretty cheaply. And then licensing can be a great place to it. I’m not, I’m not necessarily talking about you need to go out and get a Disney Frozen license, or the latest Marvel movie, you know, those are difficult to get. But even just something like as simple as, say, the Royal Air Force or something, you know, I’m sure they probably have a license for while offers, if you’re selling backpacks in the UK, or sunglasses or something like that. You know, that’s a very competitive space. But maybe there’s nobody selling Royal Air Force sunglass aviator glasses, if you’re able to go to the Royal Air Force, which is probably not a big license, they’re not Disney, it’s a little bit easier to get if you’re new to the space, if you’re, if you’re new to the space to get a Disney or big license is gonna be hard and require some big upfront fees. But maybe the Royal Air Force is like, yeah, sure, we would love to have some aviator glasses, you know, just give us a few thousand bucks down and you know, we got past royalty of X amount every so whatever their ruling every month or two months, or quarter, or whatever it is. And you can we have to approve your design, you know, you can’t just do whatever you want, but we have to approve it. And then you come out with some sunglasses that are Royal Air Force, you know, they have the logo on there or whatever. And then, you know, you have a very differentiated product, the Chinese guys can’t knock you off. And if they do knock you off, you can shut it down immediately as countering it almost instantly as a counterfeit item. And you have you have a competitive advantage. So that’s something that’s another way you can look at things is that they can really

Michael Veazey 33:08
help to. Excellent. So like that’s really heartening stuff to end on. I think we’ll leave it there because otherwise we could spend all day exploring black hat tactics and getting depressed. But actually, I think it comes down to a lot of the common sense. But it just again, the more competitive The space is, the better our business disciplines been. These be right diversifying. So we’re not over dependent on a single skew, differentiation, getting protection, putting a moat around stuff. This is actually good business practice. So as you were saying on the amazing FBA focus A while ago, a lot of the time simple business disciplines are what we need to reach back to. So actually, I think if we stop panicking and start just reaching back to this place where sounds like we should be safe enough. So Kevin, thank you so much for coming on. Really appreciate your time and I’m looking forward to getting you back into talk in more detail about the many many subjects you know and also to keep an eye on this and see how Cynthia Stein’s kind of wrestling with Amazon’s go as well and keep up to date with all that stuff in your doing it.

Kevin King 34:01
No problem. Glad to be here and glad to share a little bit

Michael Veazey 34:04
of what’s happening out there. Thanks fine, good to have you on

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