In the world of brand protection, it is crucial that your brand controls the various channels through which you sell products. Signing up for Amazon’s Brand Registry is important to crack down on unauthorized sellers, but you should do more. Without a structured reseller program that is rigorously tracked and enforced, even the most popular of brands, especially the most popular of brands, is faced with grey market sellers and reputation deterioration.
But how do you start? Do you just wake up one morning and say, “You know what? Today is the day we start controlling our sales channels!” Yes. Yes, you do.
And then what? The key is that this cannot be a one-person effort. You need to gather each individual within your organization that touches or works within the flow of the brand’s sales channels. This typically includes the following:
- Sales personnel
- The eCommerce team
- Legal counsel
Without buy-in across the organization, any effort to clean up, reorganize, or better control your sales channels will ultimately fail due to chinks in the armor through which leaks occur. If the eCommerce team and legal collaborate to create stellar policies and perfect brand content, but sales is allowing anyone with a credit card to buy products at a low price in order to hit their quota, the policies and content aren’t worth the paper (or screen) on which they’re crafted. Price spiraling and brand deterioration will occur.
Once everyone is on the same page concerning the need for a comprehensive approach to regaining brand control, begin the process with a total brand status review assessing the following areas:
- Current pain points
- What are the most meaningful metrics for the brand? (i.e. increasing authorized sellers, enforcing a MAP policy, reducing channel conflict, etc.)
- Current distribution and channel map
- Nature & reach of any existing resale policies/agreements
- Grey market seller landscape for the brand & past enforcement efforts
- What does “good” look like for this project?
- What is your budget to get your goals accomplished?
Some common characteristics among brands with channel leakage include permitting resellers and/or distributors to dictate how and where they sell products and providing promotions or incentives that motivate stakeholders to divert product in bulk. For example, if the sales team has a single metric of hitting a quota and there is promotional pricing provided for a certain show or season of the year, those two factors collide to push product--in large numbers--to a reseller who may not even have the means to properly sell the product. The result is discounted products appearing on marketplaces at below-MAP prices and likely ending up in the hands of grey market sellers looking to pounce on that margin gap.
While trying to avoid sounding like a broken record, the main point to drive home here is that your entire organization, from the top-down, must be engaged in the process to regain control of your brand. Once that is the case, the “where to begin” and the “how to move ahead” questions can be addressed. With our comprehensive approach to brand protection on Amazon, we are here to help with your project and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to get started.
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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