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 brand’s 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 strategy. Many 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 control? Monitoring 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 platform. Why is that helpful?
Marketplaces Do Not Enforce MAP or MSRP
Well, twenty-five years in, it’s no secret that Amazon takes a hands–off approach to enforcing MAP or MSRP. Amazon’s mission to have the lowest prices available with the quickest delivery. When sellers price down, even if it’s just a few cents, they make the marketplace more attractive to shoppers. Other 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 seller’s contact information, including email, phone number, address, Merchant ID, and their seller rating, along with their total number of ratings. This enables brands to quickly assess the seller and send violation notices. These 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 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 notice. If 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 VantageBP. VantageBP 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 effort. In addition to Perispect and VantageBP, here are some free resources on other ways brands can safeguard their online brand integrity.