At Retail Bloom, we not only help our clients in all areas of marketplace management, but we are a 3P seller ourselves and understand the ridiculously busy time of year that is (duh duh duh…) Q4.
There are many things to remember as you prep for Q4: advertising tips, inventory strategies, promotional dates, and so much more. But in this article, we want to walk through brand protection preparation in particular because, as we’ve explained in prior blogs, without this important foundation, other ecommerce efforts fall flat.
So what should you keep in mind as you review your preparedness for a busy holiday season?
1. Confirm the proper legal structure of your brand's reseller and price policies
We’ve covered this topic in earlier blogs, so we won’t get ‘into the weeds’ here, but we do what do you provide a few checkpoints concerning this topic that you can review with your team internally:
To solicit compliance with your Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) Policy
- Make sure you have a Reseller Program that differentiates your authorized retailers from any-and-all other (unauthorized) sellers.
- Make sure your authorized sellers are aware of the existence of your brand’s (MAP) policy and know where to view it in full (i.e. at a link, in a brand portal, etc.)
- Confirm that your MAP policy is drafted properly for use in enforcement. This means the policy is unilateral in nature and uniformly enforced with resellers.
To remove unauthorized sellers
- Within your Reseller Policy/Agreement, ensure the inclusion of legitimate material differences that attach to the authenticity of your products that are sold through authorized sales channels.
- Ensure that you have a controlled process through which you allow authorized retailers to sell online—whether on their own domains or on marketplaces.
2. Implement and communicate MAP holidays (if any)
You don’t want to be caught off-guard by your brand’s own promotional periods. In order to be prepared for monitoring and controlling the fluctuating prices throughout Q4, here are some best practices:
- Formalize your policy as it pertains to MAP holidays: Do you have any? If so, what date(s) are they? Are resellers allowed to use the promos at certain times within a time frame?
- Provide notice (and then reminders) to your retail partners. These communications should include a link to your full policy as well as the basics concerning the promotions permitted.
- Ensure you have visibility into online listings of all types—retail sites as well as marketplace sellers. Without the visibility, enforcement and control are unrealistic.
- Secure your ability to automate the implementation and enforcement of your MAP holiday pricing. Let’s be honest, no individual or team can handle this volume of data manually.
3. Prioritize and target the most disruptive unauthorized (gray market) sellers
Why wait until the middle of Q4 or, even worse, the end of Q4 to review the damage done by the most problematic unauthorized sellers and begin targeting them? It’s best to put those sellers on their heels early, and dissuade them from messing with your listings.
- Make sure you have visibility on all sellers—authorized, unauthorized, marketplaces, retail sites, etc. You won’t know who is most disruptive concerning pricing, content, etc. without this visibility.
- Establish how you want to prioritize the worst actors. Is it strictly pricing disruption? Is it based on the volume/number of product listings per each seller? Is it by marketplace (i.e. you are most concerned with Amazon sellers)?
- Obtain seller contact and entity information either through enforcement software, such as we utilize for clients at Retail Bloom, or through your own seller investigations and internal efforts.
- Send enforcement communications to those sellers through enforcement software and/or offline via physical letters. Escalate these as needed through cease & desist language and, if desired, beyond.
Remember that Retail Bloom has personnel and systems in place to help your brand with all of these pointers mentioned above.
Now get out there and have a protected, fun, successful Q4! ‘Tis the season.
Feel free to reach out to us with questions, or subscribe to our blog to receive regular Brand Protection updates.
About The Author
Andy Buss is the Legal & Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom. As both an attorney and an entrepreneur with a background in marketing, Andy provides a unique and valuable perspective when it comes to sustainable brand growth. When he's not sharpening his ping-pong skills in the break room, he can be found tirelessly pursuing the best way to keep brand clients ahead of looming online threats. Be sure to follow him on LinkedIn.
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