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ASIN Piggybacking: Fair Play or Dirty Business?

By Tami Ben-David March 3, 2016
ASIN Piggybacking: Fair Play or Dirty Business?
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About the Author

A British ex-pat, Tami been writing and content-strategizing for Israeli tech start-ups for the last 5 years. When she's not writing nerdy content, you can find Tami on open water charity swims or traveling to far-flung countries.

While every Amazon Seller wants to increase sales, win the Buy Box, and have overall better inventory turnaround, breaking the law to do it just isn’t an option. This is where an understanding of ASIN piggybacking and the controversy that surrounds it enters the picture.

As an Amazon Seller, you need to understand exactly what ASIN piggybacking is, how it can be a legitimate and legal way of doing business (but when it’s not), and how you can make lots of money doing it.

What Is ASIN Piggybacking?

ASIN piggybacking is the practice of finding hot selling items and underselling that same product – a product with the same ASIN or Amazon Standard Identification Number – for less. In essence, you are jumping on the back of an already-proven item’s success, hence the term – piggybacking. This is a great method for scoring big winners since you already know that these items are popular as they’re selling like hotcakes. With a little research, piggybacking can earn you a lot of revenue without the headache that trial and error brings with it.

Is that legal?

We know what you’re thinking. Is this really a legitimate selling practice? Here’s what’s not lawful: some Amazon Sellers undermine ASIN piggybacking by selling knockoff products of the popular items and tagging them with the genuine ASIN. Aside from being illegal, this practice undermines the entire integrity of the Amazon Marketplace, and it’s generally frowned upon by upstanding sellers like yourself.

On the other hand, scouting out the competition, offering competitive pricing, and increasing sales because of it…well, that’s what we call good business sense. Either way, when done properly, piggybacking is a legal and fair business practice that you’d be smart to take advantage of.

Piggybacking 101

Here’s how acceptable piggybacking works:

1. Find an item that’s popular. Note: this cannot be a unique item such as handmade jewelry or hand-painted pottery.
2. Now you need to do some research. Calculate your overall expenses including wholesale prices, shipping expenses, and any additional charges that will factor in. Just because a product is successful for one seller doesn’t mean it will work as well for you.
3. After you’ve made the calculations, check out what the Buy Box price is for that item. If the total amount that it costs you to resell the item is less than the winning Buy Box amount, then you’ve hit the jackpot. You can resell this item, make a profit, and earn more customers by underselling the current Buy Box price.
4. Using the ASIN, contact the manufacturer and discuss becoming a reseller yourself.

Keep your piggybacking on the up and up by reselling the exact product you claim it to be; check manufacturer codes, SKUs, titles, and brands to ensure you are not being misleading.

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