Have you ever been offered an amazing deal, only to find out that some seemingly small decision you made in the past has made it impossible to move forward?
This happens to consumer product brands all the time. During the early days when you have to really claw for a place in the market, most brands will take any deal that’ll get products moving out the door.
The thing is, when you sold a single pallet to “Joe Reseller” who works out of his garage, you didn’t know that 12 months later, QVC or Home Depot was going to come to you with a giant opportunity. The problem: they’ll say to you “We’ll only work with you if no one else is authorized to sell your product online, especially below our price.”
Well, Joe Reseller dusted off his pallet of your products recently and has become a major issue as he releases your legitimate products into an Amazon listing for half price. Unless you can get him to stop (and he never answers his email, the only contact you have) then the big guy is going to pull out, and you’ll be left at square one. This could be retail arbitrage, a distributor, a reseller, or even a brick & mortar partner.
To earn a quick couple thousand dollars last year, you may have sacrificed a few hundred thousand per month now.
Here are the things you need to think about before another product walks out of your warehouse:
Keep these airtight from day one. Always use language that limits sellers to only the activities you talked about. Don’t think, “Oh, they don’t sell on Amazon, so I don’t need an online sales clause.” Things change! Any product can end up in a liquidation situation down the road, and you want to make sure that whoever is doing so isn’t undermining your overall strategy.
If you’re unsure about how to decide which sellers to work with, check out of blog post on the pros and cons of an exclusive seller vs multiple sellers.
Get in Early
Even if you don’t feel ready to begin on a given online marketplace, take the time to stake your claim now. Just like buying a domain you may one day use, set up a brand store and product listings as soon as possible, even if they aren’t currently live. Whether you like it or not, chances are high that your products will end up on Amazon. It’s exponentially easier to gain control of an untouched channel than it is to wrestle your channel back form a bunch of shadowy strangers with nothing to lose.
Learn more about the importance of being the first to take your brand to Amazon in Why Your Brand Should Probably be on Amazon – Even if You Don’t Want to be on Amazon.
Have a product roadmap. If your goals include appealing to a national retailer, or the exposure of a TV spot, you need to stick to a plan! It’s like getting accepted to any ivy league university; everything you did in your school days counts. This means not only paying attention to whom you sell your products, but also to whom they might sell them. It also means thinking about inventory coverage and duration. Is Amazon Retail tempting you with a big juicy PO? Does it represent 2 years of stock at the current sales rate? That could be a big problem down the road when you try to pivot, and Amazon doesn’t want to play.
Need more help protecting your brand? Check out our blog post, 11 Ways to Protect Your Brand Against Counterfeits, IPR Violations, and Rogue Sellers.
The Bottom Line
Think long-term. Where do you want your brand to be in one year? How about five years? If you want to be the leader in your market by then, you’ve got to take these proactive steps now.
Not sure where to begin? Kaspien can help you plan short-term objectives to position you to hit long-term goals. Download our free whitepaper, The State of Amazon Marketing, learn more about our services, or get in touch through our contact form.