Whether you’re trying to boost overall brand perception, implement new MAP (MInimum Adverstised Price) polices or just cleaning up your online product listings, the first thing you need to do is cut the ecommerce clutter. What’s that? Glad you asked. Ecommerce clutter is when there are so many online sellers that you can’t keep track of who they are, what they’re doing or where they got inventory.
Why is that bad? More resellers means more sales, right? Wrong! Too many online sellers, increases competition to move product. And since online seller’s main competitive strategy is discounting, that translates into price wars and a race to the bottom where your brand is the loser.
Here are few steps you can to take to not only assess the challenge but to do something about it.
Step One: eCommerce Assessment
As we said, having too many sellers can make brand protection difficult. You want to thin the herd. First off, you need to evaluate your online footprint. If you’re not using our MAP monitoring tool then do a manual search of your brand on Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Google Shopping to see how many sellers list your most important products. Note: Keep your browser tabs open so you can go back for other steps later on.
Besides counting the number of sellers, make a list of their names in Excel. Go through the list and indicate if they are “known” or “unknown.” If you don’t know them send the list to your internal sales team, your distributors, and/or independent sales reps. If nobody knows them then you should probably get rid of them. If you do know them decide if you’d like to let them continue selling through their online store(s)… more on that later.
Step Two: Thin the Herd
While most of us know there are rights associated with intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks and patents) many don’t know how to exercise those rights without spending mega-bucks on attorneys. But you can. You can enforce your intellectual property rights by demanding that undesired sellers stop using your images and product descriptions. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives you more ammunition than you might think. Using this you can report unauthorized sellers to marketplaces and even domain registrars.
If you want to be nice, send warnings to sellers first. If you don’t know them then use the contact form on their website or the seller contact platform on the marketplace. Tell them they are unauthorized to use your copyrighted images and trademarks and insist they remove them immediately. Say that you’re giving them fair warning before you report them.
Some sellers will ignore you, some will be defiant, some will comply, and still others will ask you how they can get authorized. It’s your call what to do with them, but at least they’re now on notice. For the sellers that you still want gone, report them to their respective e-commerce websites and/or domain registrars.
Here are a few major marketplace brands and domain registrars to start:
Step Three: Authorize Known Sellers but with Rules!
While you’re sending the infringement notices, decide what an authorized seller looks like. Who do you want representing your brand and where? Make a list. Here are a few considerations:
- Do they have a physical location (NOT a PO Box)?
- Do they honor MAP pricing?
- Do they pay their bills on time?
- Do you know where they get their inventory?
- Do they maintain a specific seller rating?
- Are they multi-platform sellers? Marketplace only?
Once you’ve decided what they must do, tell the seller(s) that you’re authorizing them to list your products as long as they follow your policy guidelines. If they stop honoring your rules then you (or your distributors) should stop shipping to them.
One last thing
If you’re thinking of implementing (or already have) a MAP Policy, then make sure your MAP or MSRP are fair, consistent and transparent. In other words, make sure they’re set for success!
Go back to the open tabs and check the pricing (remember that from above?) What % of sellers are listing your products at the price you deem acceptable? If the answer is above 80% then you’re doing great. If it’s below that then how far below? Also, check to make sure retailers have it listed at the same (or close) price. Consumers get confused when they see a wide spread in pricing.
Sometimes, using the MSRP model is an impossible way to go about it. Ecommerce is built on consumer demand for discounted pricing so sellers need some wiggle room. Too high of a MAP price and you’ll probably fail. Too low and what’s the point? Use the data to create the price and be consistent in using that same formula for all products.
There’s a lot more that goes into brand compliance efforts and MAP enforcement, but utilizing these three steps will go a long way in maintaining brand value. If you’d like our help then just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or get a free trial at here.