Amazon Brand Protection

One of the most important topics in ecommerce is channel control. In ecommerce, channel control means a brand has complete control of their representation across all marketplaces (Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target, Google Shopping, their website etc.). This includes consistent appearance and voice, consistent pricing, and a consistent product experience for all consumers. 

Brands have struggled with channel control for years, and 2020 has made accomplishing that mission even more difficult. As the number of online sellers increases at an overwhelming rate, so too does the number of rogue sellers and Minimum Advertising Price (MAP) violators.  

Why is Channel Control Important? 

Channel control is essential for protecting a brand’s bottom line, and perhaps even more importantly, their reputation. Every day, we hear from brands that are struggling to enforce their reseller policies and are seeking assistance. They frequently find rogue sellers in their listing violating MAP and it can be extremely difficult to identify the source of the rogue seller’s product 

Such situations are frustrating and time-consuming, but they must be addressed because channel control is fundamental for a brands success.  

It Affects Shopper Confidence 

When brands lack channel control, it results in inconsistent branding, inconsistent pricing, inconsistent customer service, etc., all of which can put shoppers on guard. Is the product a fake? Is the atypically low price a deal or a scam? Are they receiving reliable answers to questions about product use, appearance, and safety?   

To maintain channel control, brands must have an enforceable selling strategyMany brands have MAP policies, and some have Authorized Reseller Agreements or Exclusive Agreements. However, even among these brands, many still lack a plan for how to enforce their policies, and a policy that can’t be enforced isn’t worth anything. 

How to Remove Rogue Sellers and Counterfeits 

So, how can you enact and enforce a strategy to safeguard your brand’s channel controlMonitoring and managing thousands of sellers is certainly no small effort. At Kaspien, we recommend utilizing software and/or partnerships to make this enormous task more manageable.  

Price & Seller Tracking Software – Perispect  

If your strategy requires enforcing a MAP policy tracked across multiple listings and sellers, Perispect will save you valuable time.  

Perispect is Kaspien’s proprietary brand protection software. It empowers brands to track sellers and their pricing across 6 marketplaces and 9 countries, all in one platformWhy is that helpful?

 

Marketplaces Do Not Enforce MAP or MSRP 

Well, twenty-five years in, it’s no secret that Amazon takes a handsoff approach to enforcing MAP or MSRPAmazon’s mission to have the lowest prices available with the quickest deliveryWhen sellers price down, even if its just a few cents, they make the marketplace more attractive to shoppersOther marketplaces, such as Walmart, eBay, Wish, etc. are following Amazon’s lead as well. As a result, brands cannot rely on the marketplace to help them enforce their pricing policy; they must do that themselves.  

Perispect Empowers Sellers with Actionable Insights 

That’s where Perispect comes in. Perispect scans each marketplace, identifies the sellers in your listings as well as their listed price, and stores this information in a centralized, easy-to-read dashboard! If a rogue seller appears or a seller drops below MAP, Perispect immediately notifies you.  

As a result, you don’t have to manually monitor your brand’s listings and sellers. Even if a seller changes their name, Perispect’s seller tracking capabilities will record the name change and associate it with the previous record, so you can track a seller’s actions regardless of whether they rename themselves.  

The software also provides brands with the sellers contact information, including email, phone number, addressMerchant ID, and their seller rating, along with their total number of ratings. This enables brands to quickly assess the seller and send violation noticesThese notices are then tracked in a case management dashboard, making it easy to follow up. 

Gain Evidence to Enable Enforcement 

In Perispect, brands can easily see their channel from a brand level or by seller. At a brand level, brands will see all their listings, MAP price, number of offerings, and the lowest price. A dropdown on each listing shows the sellers, their pricing, and a screenshot of their pricing to use as evidence in the event of a pricing violation. The screenshots are stored for 2 weeks. 

How Much Does Perispect Cost? 

Perispect starts at $99/month.  

Unauthorized Seller Removal with VantageBP  

While Amazon plays a hands-off role with MAP policies, Amazon does take product infringement very seriously. As your channel grows, so too does the likelihood of counterfeit products and rogue sellers entering your listings. VantageBP can help brand’s remove these sellers. 

VantageBP

VantageBP Removes Counterfeits and Unauthorized Sellers 

VantageBP is a proven ecommerce monitoring and enforcement agency that specializes in identifying rogue sellers and eliminating counterfeit products from the marketplaces. VantageBP’s rapid scanning technology quickly identifies unauthorized resellers and new products listings.  

When VantageBP discovers a violation, they send an automated seller notification requesting the seller’s information and where they obtained your products. If no response is received after 48 hours, they send a second noticeIf the seller provides an invoice, receipt, or supplier information, they will be marked as verified in VantageBP’s system. If they do not respond with adequate information, the seller is flagged as unauthorized. VantageBP then generates and files an enforcement action request with the given marketplace to expedite removal.  

What Happens if Sellers Cannot be Removed? 

If the seller provides a supplier invoice or supplier information, VantageBP cannot remove the seller from the listing, as they are following Amazon’s reseller policies. However, VantageBP will still pass along any information they gathered to you so you can inform the supplier of your reseller policies.  

Track Progress in Real-Time 

VantageBP shares a real-time dashboard with their clients showing their finding. Brands can review information by listing or by seller. By receiving the information updates in real-time, brands can have immediate conversations with suppliers, instead of waiting for weekly or monthly updates. The information gathered from the sellers is saved within the dashboard, giving you access to the evidence you need for relaying requests to suppliers. 

Why Doesn’t Kaspien Remove Rogue Sellers?  

Kaspien partners with brands in one of three ways – as their wholesale retailer, as their ecommerce agency, or as their software provider. Because Kaspien is a third-party seller, there’s a conflict of interest if we try to remove other third-party sellers. However, many of our partners request assistance in removing unauthorized sellers from their listings. That’s why we partner with VantageBP to provide this important service. 

How Much does VantageBP Cost? 

Kaspien’s partners receive a referral discount when working with VantageBPVantageBP customizes their monthly fee based on your brand’s needs, and there are no contracts locking you in. After working with VantageBP for just 4 months, one of our partners saw a 62% increase in listing control! 

Other Ways to Protect Your Brand on Amazon

While achieving and maintaining channel control may be difficult, it’s well worth the effortIn addition to Perispect and VantageBP, here are some free resources on other ways brands can safeguard their online brand integrity.  

Walmart Fulfillment Services vs Amazon FBA

In the world of ecommerce, FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) is one of the most used phrases. Now, get ready to use WFS (Walmart Fulfillment Services) just as frequently. Walmart Fulfillment Services launched in February 2020, putting Walmart in better position to compete with Amazon. Walmart Fulfillment Services is a fulfillment network owned and operated by Walmart. It allows brands who sell on Walmart to ship inventory directly to Walmart’s fulfillment centers for storage and order fulfillment for goods purchased on Walmart.com. 

Before Walmart Fulfillment Services, brands who sold on Walmart.com had to fulfill orders through a dropship model or through a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. The dropship model placed all order fulfillment and customer service responsibilities onto sellers, and the 3PL model could be cost-prohibitive for certain items 

This fulfillment situation made selling on Walmart difficult for some sellers and brands. Walmart Fulfillment Services improves the selling experience for Walmart’s Marketplace by providing sellers a solution for storage, 2-day fulfillment, customer service, and return management, all competitive with Amazon’s FBA capabilities. 

Download our Walmart Fulfillment Services vs. Fulfilled by Amazon eBook 

The Advantages of Using Walmart Fulfillment Services 

The Walmart Marketplace is quickly growing, and now is the time for brands to position their products on the marketplace. Marketplace Pulse reported that in June 2020, over 3,500 sellers joined the Walmart Marketplace, bringing the total number of sellers to 48,332, with most being dropship sellers.  

Fast Shipping & Greater Buy Box Share 

Amazon’s FBA program set the bar exceptionally high for online shopping convenience, and consumers now expect fast shipping for their online purchases. According to Walmart, consumers are less likely to convert on offers with a 5day shipping window, whereas items with a 2-day offer can see a 30% conversion lift. Brands and sellers who can offer nationwide 2-day shipping on their products can enroll in Walmart’s TwoDay Program, resulting in improved searchability and Buy Box percentage 

Logistically, fulfilling nationwide orders in 2-days can be challenging for sellers and brands. Such capabilities require a vast infrastructure – an infrastructure that Walmart already has thanks to its thousands of physical store locations across the US.  

Items fulfilled through Walmart Fulfillment Services are guaranteed nationwide 2-day shipping. On top of that, products in Walmart Fulfillment Services also capture a larger share of the Buy Box over all other offers, including non-WFS 2-day offers. Products sold through Walmart Fulfillment Services will display “fulfilled by Walmart” on the products, which Walmart hopes will increase consumer trust in product authenticity. 

Walmart Marketplace Listing

During the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, Amazon’s fulfillment network struggled under the strain, and they were unable to maintain 2-day shipping. Walmart, on the other hand, was. Products fulfilled through Walmart Fulfillment Services maintained the 2-day shipping guarantee throughout the pandemic. While Walmart handles far less volume than Amazon currently, the difference is a promising indicator that Walmart is building a robust infrastructure. 

Affordable Storage Fees 

Walmart Fulfillment Services offers consistent storage fees that are comparable to FBA, with monthly storage fees starting at $3.45/unit. Walmart also states there are no long-term storage (LTS) fees, a stark contrast with Amazon’s FBAHowever, if inventory stagnates in Walmart Fulfillment Service, it seems likely that Walmart would implement LTS fees to incentive liquidation and better inventory forecasting.  

This simple fee structure help sellers forecast the profitability of each shipment going into the Walmart Fulfillment Service network. Amazon’s storage fees are more complex, with monthly storage fees increasing in Q4 and LTS being applied monthly to items that have been housed for over a year. For most of the year, Amazon’s monthly storage fees are $0.48-.75 per cubic foot (depending on size) and from October to December, these fees increase to $1.20-$2.40 per cubic foot. 

Another notable difference between Walmart Fulfillment Services and FBA is that, for the moment, brands only have to ship to one Walmart fulfillment center. The single ship-to location provides a much simpler process for brands than Amazon FBA, which requires brands to ship inventory to multiple fulfillment centers. This situation will likely change in the future as Walmart’s online operations continue to expand, but for the time being, it’s a pleasant perk of Walmart’s system. 

Key Differences Between WFS and FBA 

We’ve mentioned differences in pricing models and ship-to locations, but how else does Walmart Fulfillment Services differ from FBA?  

Read about Walmart’s new subscription service that will rival Amazon Prime, Walmart Plus. 

Reporting 

While FBA does offer deeper reporting to sellers and the extra service of fulfilling orders for select websites off Amazon, Walmart is quickly enhancing their reporting. Walmart has made impressive improvements to their reporting over the last three months, including working closely with their approved sellers on creating dashboards. These dashboards will help sellers understand product performance, as well as identify which products not yet sold on Walmart have the highest opportunity to perform well on the platform 

Product Preparation 

Unlike Amazon’s Seller Central, Walmart’s Seller Portal currently does not offer the ability to create box labels or shipping labels required for shipping to Walmart’s fulfillment centerAs a result, prepping shipments can be a manual process.  

Product Requirements for Walmart Fulfillment Services 

Walmart Fulfillment Services’ product requirements are a bit stricter than FBA requirements. Learning from some of Amazon’s missteps, Walmart is working hard to prevent counterfeit items from polluting its platform and keep warehousing to a minimum. Below are a few Walmart Fulfillment Services product requirements and how they differ from FBA. 

  • WFS – Products must ship to Walmart fulfillment centers from within the United States. 
    FBA – Amazon FBA centers will accept international shipments if the correct labeling if applied, including box labels and pallet labels if shipping LTL. 
  • WFS – Country of Origin must be on the retail packaging.  
    FBA – This is not required at FBA.   
  • WFS – Products must have UPCs on the product packaging. 
    FBA – Amazon’s ASIN labels can be printed and applied to products when needed. WFS does not offer labeling options or services.  
  • WFS – Maximum product weight is 30 lbs 
    FBA – Will accept shipping cases up to 50 lbs., along with single products weighing over 150 lbs. (with additional fees applied). 
  • WFS – Maximum product dimensions: 25″ x 20″ x 14″. 
    FBA – Dimensions up to 25” on any sideFBA also accepts oversized single items that are over 108” on its longest side and over 165” in length + girth.  

Sell on Walmart.com 

Selling on Amazon has taught brands the importance of keeping channel control. If brands do not sell their products on a marketplace, someone else will, and unfortunately, rogue sellers are not known for providing the best representation for brands.  

Walmart is growing quickly, which means that now is the time to position your brand on the platform before someone else does. The Walmart Marketplace is the second largest marketplace in the US, with over 400 million website visits per month. In the second quarter of 2020, Walmart reported that their ecommerce sales grew 97%. By being an early adopter, brands can position themselves in front of a larger audience and ahead of competitors.  

If you want to learn more about how Walmart Marketplace compares to Amazon, visit our post “Amazon vs Walmart.” It covers the two company’s history, size, customer base, marketing services, fulfillment options, subscription programs, challenges, and growth.

Accessing Walmart Fulfillment Services 

Walmart Fulfillment Services is currently open only to select sellers, and so far, the number of sellers approved to sell is low. Walmart wants to limit the risk of counterfeit sellers entering the marketplace, which is easier to do with a smaller number of trusted sellers. As such, it is unclear if Walmart will move to a less strict approval process for Walmart Fulfillment Services 

We were among the first group of sellers personally invited to sell Walmart.com in 2016, and we are an approved WFS seller. We’ve had an excellent experience with the program. Our account manager is easy to contact, and the Walmart team has provided reporting to help grow our product selection. By partnering with Kaspien for Walmart, brands can draw from our Amazon expertise and leverage our proven marketing strategies and software services to help their brand grow on the Walmart Marketplace. 

Want to learn about selling on Walmart.com? Check out our free eBook!

Download the eBook

WFS: Walmart’s Gamble to Challenge Amazon FBA