Driving Sustained Growth by Leveraging a Holistic Brand Protection Journey

Apr 13, 2022 12:00 PM1:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Maintaining a relationship with consumers and retailers is an essential aspect of every brand. Working with brands to create reseller programs is one way to connect with consumers and provide authenticity. But how can you uphold the user experience in the online marketplace?

Brands are experiencing unauthorized selling of their products, leading to counterfeit products reaching consumers and putting the brand name in a sinking position. What are the building blocks to set up brand authentication? How can brands take data and information from enforcement tools to scale and grow revenue?

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Andy Buss, the Legal and Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom, and Karen Palmquist, the National Sales Manager for Stormy Kromer, to discuss tools and methods to create a clean online marketplace for your brand. Together they discuss enforcing proper brand control and protection, how to reduce fraud through tracking and monitoring, and effectively handling escalatory sellers.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Andy Buss introduces the beneficial partnership between Retail Bloom and Stormy Kromer
  • How can proper brand protection affect the consumer experience?
  • Reducing fraud by having control of your product’s characteristics in the online marketplace 
  • Karen Palmquist discusses tracking and monitoring for accountability
  • Why timing can be crucial for cultivating a strong brand presence
  • What tools can you use to clean up your brand’s online presence? 
  • How to handle escalatory infringements on products
  • Can disruptive sellers damage your revenue?
  • The time it takes to produce results from a brand protection stance
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Event Partners

Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Retail Bloom recently merged with Blue Wheel to form one of the leading Omni-Channel Digital Commerce Agencies, with over $1 Billion under management across its clients.

Connect with Blue Wheel (Formerly Retail Bloom)

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Andy Buss

Legal & Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom

Andy Buss is the Legal and Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom. He is a brand protection attorney with personal experience in eCommerce and marketing. In addition to his role at Retail Bloom, Andy is the Owner of mi State of Mind, which sells Michigan-themed apparel. He received his JD from Michigan State University College of Law.

Karen Palmquist

Karen Palmquist

National Sales Manager at Stormy Kromer

Karen Palmquist is the National Sales Manager for Stormy Kromer, a third-generation family-owned and operated brand since 1903. It’s the brand that took a simple wool cap and added ear flaps that turned it into an icon. Today, they sell hats, apparel, and accessories. She is in charge of nurturing the wholesale business, building relationships, and is an overall super fan of the brand. Karen oversees Stormy Kromer’s sales representative force, works directly with corporate clients, and oversees the 3P sales and online enforcement.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Andy Buss

Legal & Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom

Andy Buss is the Legal and Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom. He is a brand protection attorney with personal experience in eCommerce and marketing. In addition to his role at Retail Bloom, Andy is the Owner of mi State of Mind, which sells Michigan-themed apparel. He received his JD from Michigan State University College of Law.

Karen Palmquist

Karen Palmquist

National Sales Manager at Stormy Kromer

Karen Palmquist is the National Sales Manager for Stormy Kromer, a third-generation family-owned and operated brand since 1903. It’s the brand that took a simple wool cap and added ear flaps that turned it into an icon. Today, they sell hats, apparel, and accessories. She is in charge of nurturing the wholesale business, building relationships, and is an overall super fan of the brand. Karen oversees Stormy Kromer’s sales representative force, works directly with corporate clients, and oversees the 3P sales and online enforcement.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18  

Happy Wednesday, everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director here at BWG Connect where a networking and knowledge sharing group 1000s of brands who do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is that shaping the digital landscape today, I spend a lot of my time talking with brands each week that startup the fortune 100. It's everything from apparel in beauty to CPG. And it's from those conversations and just the networking and knowledge sharing that we come up with the topics for the calls, we're also going to do close to 100 in person events this year, small format dinners around the country. So if you're interested in those, just reach out to us if you're in one of the tier one tier two city, we'll probably be doing something near you. The other thing is just a couple of housekeeping items as we get started. The first is, we want this to be as educational informational as possible. So at any point in time you have questions, feel free to drop into the chat the q&a or email them to me, Aaron Aaron@BWGConnect.com. And the other thing is, we just want to be really respectful of time. So we're starting this at three to four minutes after the hour. And just so you know, we're going to wrap up with probably three to four minutes to go in the hour as well, maybe even a little bit more, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. And with that, want to go ahead and kick it off. So this topic of online, you know, I would say brand protection as a whole, right, it is something that people are struggling with. And a lot of times we found that brands who weren't struggling with it a year ago, all of a sudden are doing a ton better in digital as they've upped their game. And now all of a sudden, they're seeing a lot of unauthorized resellers popping up that could be not only hurting the prices, but also hurting the brand name as a whole when you don't know who's selling your product. And so we got some great friends, partners, supporters of the network over at Retail Bloom, they come highly recommended on multiple fronts because there's services out there, they just have a hands on approach that kind of walks you through everything that needs to be done. And so I also have some friends over a Stormy Kromer on the line today, too, from the brand standpoint. But you know, Andy, I'll kick it over to you. If you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Retail Bloom. That'd be awesome. And then we can kick it over to Karen and then we can kind of jump into the the the topic for today. Sounds good.

Andy Buss  2:54  

All right. Yeah. Thank you, Aaron. We really do love working with BWG great partners. So we appreciate hosting the webinar for us today. So yeah, just a little bit about me, I head up our brand protection efforts at Retail Bloom for a few years now. I'm an attorney with some background in filing, managing trademarks, obviously, handling the work of the brand protection services here at retail blue now for a few years. So we've helped many brands kind of walk through the journey you'll you'll hear about today from Stormy Kromer. And then we have Karen on the line with us also when she's at Stormy Kromer, one of our great partners or our level, I'll let her introduce herself here.

Karen Palmquist  3:32  

Morning, everyone. I'm Karen Palmquist. I am our national sales manager here at Stormy Kromer located in Ironwood, Michigan. For those maybe not completely familiar with the brand we are our brand dates back to 1903. The iconic Stormy Kromer wool cap with the earflaps. And we are a third generation owned family company again located in the far western part of the UP. So we've been working with Retail Bloom on our different online map monitoring services as well as some other services they provide. And happy to be here today.

Andy Buss  4:13  

Thank you, Karen. And yeah, so if you guys do some really warm, cool looking hats that are multifunctional, it's probably a Stormy Kromer hat out there. Just a little background quickly on Retail Bloom, if you're not familiar yet with with what we do, really we come alongside brands in kind of a you know, very personalized way, like Aaron said, but in a couple of core business models. The first one is our managed services model. So basically we'll help brands with their one P account or three P accounts or maybe they're doing a hybrid strategy on the marketplaces. But depending on kind of regardless of which strategy they're doing. We come alongside. We help them with brand protection, which is obviously the topic today. The content, their customer service efforts, the expansion advertising, reporting all those services on the marketplace, and then our other business model is that wholesale three P model, where we're doing all the things I just mentioned all those services I just mentioned, but also adding in that fulfillment portion and standing as the preferred three P seller for the brand. This is, you know, we see that being really beneficial for brands who lead with their b2b efforts, and are kind of looking for someone to supplement their one P efforts and assists with the b2c side of things. So, two core business models, like I said, the brand protection services, attach, you know, to either those business models really wherever you fall as a client or brand within those business models or brand protection services can be for you, right, and they touch different clients. I'll turn it back over to Aaron to kick things off here.

Aaron Conant  5:41  

Just a quick reminder, we do want it to be as educational informational as possible. So you have questions along the way, don't hesitate to drop them into the chat with q&a, we'll get them answered as we go. And yeah, let's go ahead and kick it off, I think. Let's just jump into it.

Andy Buss  5:55  

All right. So just a few high level high level bullet points we're trying to walk through today and cover some background is in context, first of all, so what is the impact right of those brand protection efforts on marketplaces kind of what are we seeing that results when you do have a good brand protection approach. And then we'll briefly just touch on our Retail Bloom approach to brand control, which is a three stage approach and want to just kind of set the stage to better understand what we'll be talking through with Karen and the Stormy Kromer journey after that. And then the last part will be, we want to get to that where we can really talk through what Stormy Kromer has done with us what it looked like from the brand side of things and how that went. So those are kind of the three tiers, if you will, to the to the presentation here. Alright, so again, just kind of quantify some provide some context on you know, what is brand protection, kind of what, what is, why do we need it. And there's a few different elements, I guess I'd point out to call out the brand protection will assist with in your overall marketplace efforts. So one thing is consistent brand presentation, right? You want your brand to look consistent. Excellent, right wherever it's being presented on the marketplaces online. So that's one of the results of brand protection. The brand can own and maintain control of your brand registry, right when you have control of who's selling you're the you're the main preferred seller out there, perhaps you work with a partner like Retail Bloom, you're controlling your brand registry, the the ASINs, right are the listings are created by the brands, they have control over that the bundles and what people are putting out there is controlled then by the brand and it's consistent. Also, you will be able to control the the products right what actually what actual products are listed out there, what's available to consumers, as you have control, with your three P sellers, possibly right but of what's going out onto the marketplace is what's being listed, so you can control the products and how those are presented. Finally, three P sellers. If you do work with them, you can link those three P sellers do the UPC to the skews that you're listing online and and continue to maintain control over who's on those listings, right who's selling those UPC is on the on the marketplace. So really, obviously an important element of providing your brand experience to consumers. Also pricing right. And this is huge, obviously for not only the brand, but but resellers who want to partner with you to maintain the margin so they can continue to sell your brand. When you're have when you have proper brand protection efforts and control controlling your sellers on the marketplace, you can obviously control the number of sellers on those listings, who's fighting for the buy box, right, that's the second part of this is you or your preferred sellers will continue to win the buy box without having to continually lower prices to win that Buy Box. And so the third point here is just not only will you have clean, consistent listings, control of who's selling, but you'll be able to maintain the pricing there without having to fight with maybe the marketplace or rogue sellers out there. And finally, obviously that results in preserving margin for not only you but your sellers maintains the relationship you have with those retailers because they might not then have to complain about losing margin to rogue sellers. So it's really key to keep that pricing and that margin in place.

Aaron Conant  9:11  

Yet really quick. So a question comes in. She just confirmed what you mean by linking the UPC to third party sellers, or three P's.

Andy Buss  9:21  

Yeah, so when you as the brand have control of your brand registry, you're able to designate other entities right, your third party preferred sellers, for example, like a Retail Bloom, who can also have administrative access to your brand registry who can also then link to your official UPC codes that are provided within your seller account. So you can have approved authorized sellers authorized entities join onto your UPC is within your as you control your brand registry without

Aaron Conant  9:51  

explaining that. You're linking them on the back end. I guess the next question that comes up is Is this all through brand registry it because a lot of people have it issues with brand registry. Right? They'll go through, they'll get it. But still, there's unauthorized resellers that are that are popping up.

Andy Buss  10:06  

How much? That's a good question. Go ahead let you finish your question, but

Aaron Conant  10:11  

I'm gonna Yeah, I think you I think you understood that. Yeah.

Andy Buss  10:13  

So brand registry, right? Like, how effective is it? Yes, a lot of the core setup, when you're getting set up on a marketplace, like Amazon for a brand is key, it's always crucial to have brand registry because to the marketplace, as far as your relationship goes with the marketplace as a brand. That's your main tool for maintaining control, authorizing certain sellers, you know, what are my trademarks? That's your control hub? So yes, it's very key to have that. But no, it is not a magic wand, it is not the way to remove all unauthorized sellers. Because as we'll get into in just a second, you know, why? Why is there the need, then for having a reseller program having that legal foundation, and I'll explain that in just a second. But it's beyond the marketplace efforts to clean up the rogue or unauthorized sellers, because they'll say even in the seller contracts when you sign up with Amazon, that they're not responsible for enforcing your agreements, your contracts. So that's on the brand to control the actual sellers. It's another thing if they're doing counterfeit, they're selling completely fake product, right? That's an issue that obviously the marketplace is more concerned with, they will try to remedy that they don't want counterfeits. But if you're saying hey, I don't know that guy, he's selling my product, get them off, that is not something they're gonna help you with. That's when you need to resort to the legal foundation having control that will talk to you here.

Aaron Conant  11:28  

Yeah, love it. But then, even as you have that put in place, and you've done brand registry, I know there's a lot of you know, companies out there that have, maybe they're older, or maybe they have strategic partners, they haven't gone direct on Amazon, they're using third party resellers. And they want to be able to grant that access to those third party resellers and yet still own their brand registry.

Andy Buss  11:50  

Yes. So yeah, that's possible. But again, I mean, I would always recommend as the brand maintaining control and oversight of your brand registry, and then granting access to third party sellers, as opposed to allowing the third party seller to completely, you know, open it, run it, maintain the access control, because you want to ultimately have control as the brand of who's running it, what's going on in that brand registry. So awesome. Yep. Just another couple quick results, I guess of brand protection that we want to call out DVS more than more context. So what you can do, you know, and having control of your brand on those marketplaces is, you'll be able to determine, right, who are the sellers that are not only listing products, but running ads can give you kind of a holistic view of your advertising efforts for your brand. And so part of what you can do with the policies that we'll touch on in a second is, is establish the requirements, right for who who is allowed to sell, sorry, advertise your products on the marketplace and kind of provide the guidelines for that advertising. You'll also then be able to protect the sponsored product ads for your primary retailers. So you may want to make sure that there's certain three partners that you work with that are winning those or having as much control of those advertising efforts as possible. And you can protect that when you have a comprehensive view of who's selling and what products are out there. And finally, kind of what I'm hinting at right is you'll have your whole ad budget, and you'll be able to forecast and kind of make decisions based on the total top line results, right, who's selling the total ad spend, you're getting results and reports from those sellers, because you're authorizing them and working with them. So it really gives you a full picture of how your advertising is performing. Lastly, obviously, with that program in place and having certain authorized sellers, you'll be able to just communicate more simply what your strategy is, and how they carried out on your on the marketplaces through those sellers.

Aaron Conant  13:40  

Now, I love this from the standpoint that it's also getting into the advertising side of things as well, why when we think about holistic control, you know, in most cases, we're talking about, you know, removal of rogue sellers, unauthorized, third parties. You know, even you know, sometimes they're, they're great partners of yours, you just don't want them to own the Amazon channel or other marketplaces as well. You know, and then I want to make sure I want to run one more thing by you, just because a question comes in. And I think that we're going to get to this in a little bit. Right, the tactics for maintaining a limited number of sellers on listings, and therefore, you know, pricing compliance. Yes, they just have a question that comes in, we got some robe, three peas that are not authorized, but we haven't had support and removing them. And that's kind of what we're, I think we're gonna get to on the back half of this, right.

Andy Buss  14:29  

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. In just a second will kind of explain that legal foundation I've been referencing and how that enables you to control who's selling and then the pricing that they're actually selling it at as well.

Aaron Conant  14:40  

Right, because the end of the day, because of the first sale doctrine. Once you've sold in the commerce, anybody can resell it, unless there's right a specific legal reason that they cannot a fundamental difference in the products that they're selling in some way, shape or form. Yep. And you have To actually have a legal foundation for removing them, otherwise, they just laugh, right? Like, you know, like, there's literally laws that protect what I'm doing. Right. Yeah, that's true to a certain extent. So we need

Andy Buss  15:11  

to, that's why we want to equip the brands to have those legal tools in their tool belt to make sure they can actually remove the sellers and not just send them letters that they're gonna laugh at, like you're saying, right? So that's definitely key. And that's something that we'll touch on in just just a minute week when we explained the whole, you know, approach that we have at Retail Bloom for kind of walking brains through that entire journey. So without further ado, right here is that three stage approach. So it's, it's if you break it down, really the first stage, we call a business case, strategy. And alignment is really an assessment where it even begins in that sales process, where we're talking to you about what we do, how we can help, and we start looking at your brand presence, what's going on. Once we do start working with you as a brand, it gets more in depth, right, we start looking at the channel strategies you have the policies you might have in place. When we get into stage two, that's where we're talking to and working on the policies and that legal foundation that Aaron, I were just referencing, where we're actually creating with you, your customized reseller program, so reseller policy, pricing policy, distributor agreement, whatever it might be online selling policy that we need to make. So that's where we actually make that legal foundation to overcome the first sale doctrine that Aaron was referencing, and start giving you control of who is actually selling for the brand. And then stage three is monitoring and enforcement, the part that probably everyone's heard the most about, which is getting you on to our tools, our online tools are platforms where we're able to see internet wide what's going on with pricing with sellers and actually do the enforcement either through automated efforts, or if we need to escalate it and offline efforts. So I don't want to spend too much time on this slide. Because Aaron, I did just kind of touch on it. But you know, why do we need that foundation to overcome the first sale doctrine. The first sale doctrine has been around for over 100 years. It's been codified by the Supreme Court, right? So it's it's real, it's a thing. Anyone can sell trademark product without, as a general rule infringing on your trademark, right? They buy it, they resell it that's not infringing on your trademark. So brands have, thankfully, received a way to overcome the first sale doctrine and actually control who is selling. And as Aaron hinted at, it's called material differences, right? What we need to do is we work with brands to create your reseller program, and say, Hey, here's our, here's our product. It's, this is our product, this is what makes it authentic. And the material differences that we're formalizing in this program are important enough, where if you're selling outside of our program, you're confusing consumers, you're infringing on our trademark, and we're gonna, and we're able to come after you under trademark law, the two types of material differences that are most often recognized and used product characteristics. And that includes things such as a warranty that might attach to your product, the returns policy might have that comes along with your product, maybe you register your product for customer support customer service efforts, all of these different things that attach to the product and make it authentic, and and sold through the authorized channels, right. Number two is quality controls. And so that's things like how the product must be shipped, maybe the customer service efforts that the brand wants the resellers to have ready, maybe it's storage, right how the how the items are stored. So lots of different ways that we're able to take what the brand wants to do with the product and what attaches to it, and create that legal foundation to overcome the first sale doctrine.

Aaron Conant  18:30  

And I think I just want to jump in here, because I think there's one thing that's really important to note there is you're not changing your products, or this isn't making separate different products for every marketplace that's out there. It's it's saying, you know, even you know, well, it's quality controls, it could be warranties, right where the manufacturer's warranty is only applied when it's sold through authorized resellers. And therefore, you know, you don't have to touch the product, the design, the packaging, anything, you literally can put a policy in place internally, that then applies to everything and changes the product characteristics from something that's sold from an authorized reseller versus an unauthorized.

Andy Buss  19:11  

Yeah, that's a good call. Yeah, this isn't something where we're working with the brand to create a new type of product or new packaging and all that stuff to give you the protection. almost virtually every single brand I've worked with, we're able to really take what you are already doing, the process you have in place the warranties, whatever it might be your packaging, and create and formalize those material differences from what you're already doing. We're not really trying to reinvent the wheel for the brand. Awesome. So finally, that third stage right which we are going to get into the real world, real world example of struggling to stuck in a monitoring and enforcement. There's four keys that we like to focus on at Retail Bloom for doing this effectively. The first is visibility. So making sure that we have the tools in place to see not just marketplaces but to see retail websites to see internet wide what's going on with your product which you can See in those two screenshots, top and bottom, one tool, right that we had that look looks at marketplaces, here's all your listings, all the sellers on the marketplaces that you might want scraped. And then this tool on the bottom, you see there are TrackStreet tool that can actually look beyond marketplaces also to all the retail websites that are out there selling your products. So we want to make sure you're seeing what's going on. And then efficiency. So these tools are obviously completely able to be automated to 100%, you can set them up customize them. And that's our third element is customization, you can set them up, you can say this is exactly what we want. This is how we want to do our enforcement and let the tool run. Or of course, you can step in with manual operation whenever you want to at any point to so but efficiency is key because we know there are brands with like 1000s of EPCs, right, that we're helping that have 1000s of listings, and no one person has the time to sit there and start writing out letters to all these sellers or scanning every listing. And then finally, permanency and and that and that really speaking to the setup that we just talked to in stage two, but we want to launch from that, that foundation, that legal foundation, and then have tools that can that can build off of that and launch from that legal foundation to actually remove sellers, right, we don't want to say, hey, here's a great foundation, but we're not able to get in touch with the seller, we don't really know how to express that to the seller that that we have this foundation. So through TrackStreet specifically, we can communicate directly with those sellers, those online retail sellers or marketplace sellers. Explain to them in our notices that we have this reseller program, they are infringing on our trademark under law and and that we're gonna take it as far as we need to as a brand right to get them removed. And so that's what we mean by permanency after having some real teeth to the enforcement. With that, I do want to bring Karen into this conversation I want to hear mostly from her because this is really a great chance to highlight Stormy Kromer. And their walk with us through the brand protection journey. We've done a lot with them and one of our great clients. So we took Stormy Kromer through all the stages of our brand protection efforts, right. And they're ongoing with us, which is great. But just to kind of let everyone into, you know, provide a window to what we've done with them. We'll start with stage one, explain kind of how we started working with stormy. And I'll let Karen explain once I kind of throw out the bullet points of what happened in stage one, I'll let her explain what what stormy was doing at that point, and how they saw the need to start working on this this brand protection project. So in stage one, they had, you know, we kind of discussed with them the awareness that they saw of the sellers out there the pricing issues they were seeing on the marketplaces, we we switched them over to our TrackStreet platform once we had that about probably a year and a half ago, right where we got them on to TrackStreet started to start seeing what was out there, right, all the sellers and all the issues that were really out there popping up and then took a look at what Stormy Kromer did or didn't right have in place at the time for policies and efforts to actually address those sellers. And then kind of explained to them, right, here's what we can do. Here's our approach or brand protection. Do you think this will work for you? And so Karen's anything I missed in that stage one are kind of what was going on internally, you know, at Stormy when you guys started to see the issues and discuss the solution that might be viable for you guys,

Karen Palmquist  23:17  

right? Sure, no. So before we had kind of partnered with Retail Bloom, we did use a online map tracking service. But we didn't have a lot of the foundation blocks in place, whether it be the reseller agreement or an online reseller agreement, we did have a MAP policy, but without having all of the different blocks in place, it made the accountability piece a little bit more difficult. So Andy really helped bring us back to kind of square one and built a stronger foundation basis so that we have that we know exactly who is authorized and who is not. So we have more of those checks and balances in place. So he helped us create and implement both our our reseller agreements, so that would just be any independent reseller, even if they are not selling online and then also putting in place create creating an implementing an online reseller agreement, which includes both three P and just a standard website. So now that we have all of those in place, we can more easily track and monitor all of the different methods that they're selling, whether it's their online, you know, their their web address and three P so that that made kind of knowing who's out there and identifying them and being able to manage it a lot easier.

Andy Buss  24:58  

Yeah, I think I think I recall when we started having the conversations with you guys, that part of what we were hoping to accomplish, right was was, like you were saying separating everyone out there at that point, everyone out there were was sellers, right. And what we wanted to do was say, Hey, these are authorized sellers, and these are unauthorized sellers. And let's, let's distinguish between the two and figure out a way to, to go after the ones that we don't know who they are and shouldn't be selling. And so

Karen Palmquist  25:21  

Exactly, it went from the wild west to like, hey, we, we have everything kind of in it. And it's appropriate sections for authorized and online. And again, it just makes that management piece a lot more streamlined and easier. For that accountability piece.

Aaron Conant  25:38  

Really quick, just a question that comes in is, you know, how did you? How did you talk about this upwards in the organization? Right, because there's this, you know, so this is, you know, kicking it over to Karen, you know, people want to know, and this is a combination of questions that I've gotten, but also when that comes in, is around explaining this upwards, because the reality is, you know, people think I want to sell to as it used to be go back five, you know, six years ago sell to as many people as possible

Karen Palmquist  26:10  

quickly, yes. 

Aaron Conant  26:14  

Right. And now it's, it's actually inhibits growth, even on these platforms, right? Because if, if it's not all consolidated underneath one reseller, whether it's you one P, whether it's a partner, or whether two, three P, the amount of advertising that can be done, which was face it, these, every platform now is paid to play via, you know, advertising, nobody's incentivized to advertise, and therefore you're sitting in a marketplace where yeah, there's 50 people selling your product. Yeah, the price is low, but nobody can advertise and get to the top. So how do you talk about it upwards first, and then what was the other question that comes in? Is the timeframe forgetting this umbrella reseller agreement, the online, you know, selling application agreement? And then the I think you already said you had a MAP policy? Like, what was that timeframe to get those rolled out?

Karen Palmquist  27:04  

Oh, um, so for like to answer the timeframe handy. I can't remember when we actually, like, know, how long

Andy Buss  27:13  

it took? It should, you know, and that's a good question. But it's a little different with every brand we work with. I want to say Stormy, because of the and this is what you kind of teed gearing up to speak to this exact thing is they had great discussion internally, upward and, and also outward with their outside legal counsel they work with. And so whereas maybe a normal program creation project with a brand would take maybe six weeks, I want to say this one took maybe eight to nine weeks to get these back and forth, right edited, get on a call with their outside counsel as well and talk through them a couple of times. And that's when we I think it took maybe eight or nine weeks to get those three documents, written, edited, refined, to specific Stormy Kromer. Needs, right, and then, and then ready for them to implement. But I'll let Karen kind of speak to what those discussions were right, and like you said here and how it worked kind of up the chain.

Karen Palmquist  28:08  

Right. And so you know, me kind of coming on board and managing all of our wholesale accounts, you're right, it did kind of first you'd be interested in selling to, you know, just to get those sales. But as you know, the brand presence has really grown, we kind of figured out that it's not really helping the presence of the brand when people aren't following you know, that map you so without having like a greater knowledge of how to implement or create and implement that ourselves, you know, we utilize the help of Retail Bloom to put that in place. So, you know, our upwards, management team were really supportive. But again, like we didn't really know, you know, and have the expertise to do that ourselves. So it was great to be able to partner, you know, with retail balloon to do that. And then again, they were very receptive, you know, to having our legal team, you know, review and make edits to the documents before we rolled them out. And then speaking, you know, in terms of rolling it out, it was actually interesting, the timing, from when we created it, we started, I believe, probably the tail end of 2019. But more importantly, finished the pieces and started implementing them in April of 2020, and that was a really critical point for our brand, just because of the whole shift with a pandemic, from our brick and mortar stores to our online. I don't think it could have come at a better time because we had a lot more control and bandwidth over that online presence. So it only helped, you know, increase our presence, you know, in a professional Selling place, you know, with online and really tightened down those unauthorized sellers and people not adhering to the map, we were able to, you know, remove people, you know, with that, which only helped with our online sales, and that stronger brand presence. So we were that really did help, you know, with that timing, you know, and it was just really critical, you know, with that, especially when we see the drastic, you know, increase in our online sales.

Aaron Conant  30:33  

So really quick question comes in from setting up the new seller agreements to clean online presence? How long does that take in your experience?

Karen Palmquist  30:44  

You know, and I'm sure it's gonna depend of like, where you're selling and like how many people that you authorize for like three P, for instance, our one of our strategic goals is we had, oh, gosh, Andy, I think probably over 13 or 14, people, you know, that we had authorized to sell on Amazon plus people we didn't know. And we really, you know, our goal was to kind of condense that down into a much smaller number. So those were kind of different blocks or goals that we had set in place. Number one was, you know, the authorized, you know, figuring out who's authorized and the agreement. So it was kind of, I want to say, maybe a two year phase where first we implemented that, then we were able to crack down and cut down on, you know, some of our problematic sellers. And, you know, now we have like our goals, you know, going into 22 and 23, for continued cleanup. So, you know, it just kind of depends, you know, where you are in the process, what it kind of looks like, you know, like how many again, three P how, you know, we had some problem areas and you know, it kind of looks a little bit messy, you know, on three P but I would want to say it really it within two years, it really started to look a lot better. Like we're where we are today to where we were two years ago, it's completely night and day.

Andy Buss  32:16  

Yeah, and, and that actually leads right into this. This next slide we're going to discuss which was, you know, when Stormy initially, we did the reseller program, we they started implementing that with their sellers. And then we used we got them on track three, like we said, and then we were also using the seller side marketplace tool that we have at Retail Bloom. And there was a period from that point to when we did more of the in depth projects that we'll speak to in a second. But for those there was probably eight or so months, were together with Stormy Kromer. We were digesting, right what was going on, on seller site what was going on, on TrackStreet to see everyone out there, right. And I think that was helpful, hopefully, for Stormy, to get a full picture of all the retail sites out there all the marketplace sellers, and start that informed then what we did in q4 with them, which I won't get ahead of myself, but that was I think they were really taking a lot of data on and information, even during those eight months of what was going on on these enforcement tools to speak to what we did finally with him just a few months ago, but Is that does that sound that up? Well, Karen kind of there during that time, you kind of digesting what was going on?

Karen Palmquist  33:30  

Yeah, it was digesting going. And we had to break it down into phases, you know, because the some of the problem areas, they were authorized dealers at the time, but then it was exiting out of that, you know, those selling, you know, partnerships and, you know, kind of identifying also, like, who's a real partner and who is not in, you know, so it really kind of shifted shifted the mindset of the business in identifying both your problem areas, and then also who your key partners are in really helping create a better relationship with them and to drive sales.

Andy Buss  34:12  

Yeah. And so in in the stage three in the monitoring part that we're just speaking to right now. You can see on this slide, right we did the seller site marketplace enforcement, and then we we had the visibility ongoing of everyone out there to TrackStreet with them. In tracks three, right, we kind of set up the workflow and okay, and I spent some time going through how that works in tracks Street to create the exact enforcement process you want. And where you want to enforce right do we are we focusing in on Amazon this month that we are we focusing in on all the marketplaces and trying to clean those up currently. So we kind of talked through that. But then we explained to Stormy Kromer. I think it was getting into q3 last year that we could do more through maybe like a full service project with them where, you know, basically I said to Karen, you know, what do you guys need? How can we come along inside you to better assist you using tractor using these tools and cleaning up your marketplace presents is there more we can do kind of like, like I said full service, right. And so we went back and forth kind of trying to figure out the best way to structure this project. And like I said, they were taking in the the information about who was disruptive, who was out there in the marketplaces. And finally, we came to the conclusion that what they really needed was digging into some of these rogue sellers out there to find out right, like who they are, where, where they came from, how to get ahold of them, how to reach them, and then address them, right, whatever that kind of addressing looks like whether it's by Stormy, whether it's by Retail Bloom. And so we set up this project in q3 to kind of last throughout q4, they're really, you know, obviously their busy season right with the winter gear to clean up those sellers. And we had bi weekly calls that we've set up to, to talk through who was doing what on the marketplaces who was maybe most disruptive and a target that we needed to kind of figure out what to do with that seller. But I'll let Karen kind of speak to how we came to this project and kind of what that looked like internally to get this project going.

Karen Palmquist  36:11  

Right. So for the 2021 season, after 2020, we really had the, you know, who has those agreements in place, and kind of, you know, really making the adapt, identifying who we wanted to on, you know, three P, and who were trying to clean up, we had these issues that had been plaguing us a couple of them for two years, being incredibly disruptive, not knowing who they were not knowing how they were getting product. So that was one of our focuses, you know, because it was being so disruptive than our authorized, it was hurting the buy box. And so, you know, with our authorized dealers, you know, we really needed to make this a top priority for 2021. So, in that quarter, Andy had helped design an additional service to really key in on these problem areas. And, you know, there's only so many hours in a day, and the sophistication is of some of the games, that they were playing online to conceal their identity, you know, you contact them through their Gen box, or I would, you know, purchase the product online, through Amazon to try to figure it out. And you can only do so much. So one of the key problem, dealers that we did have, Andy helped escalate with certified letters to then researching who they were in, by drafting the cease and desist letters. Once we didn't, you know, receive anything back from that we did. He helped that put us in touch with the legal team that subpoenaed Amazon for the information for one of these problem row dealers, which ended up being one of our authorized resellers. So, by the close of this project for 2021, that was probably one of our most successful milestones was being able to identify those roll dealers and get them removed from Amazon.

Andy Buss  38:17  

Yeah, and I know, when we would talk, you know, every other weekend there'd be it was, I think it was fun, maybe not so much for you, but fun for me on on the in that it was so different, how each of these sellers were being handled, it was kind of a different, a different recipe for each one. And that's why we've kind of laid them out on this slide here. But there were some where maybe Karen was like, yeah, no, we have no idea who that is. Please send them a cease and desist letter, you know, in certified mail, let's do what we get back. Let's see if they if they'll comply with, with right the reseller program that trademark infringement, you know, demands that were that we have on here. And there were some where we were identified them and then Karen and the team was like, Wait, we know who that is we that that town or that seller or that email rings a bell that's in our system, and they would handle them internally. And then like she said, there was a couple that we had to escalate because either we could not find the identifying information through any kind of effort online, we could not get the information we need about who these people were, or they were not complying. They were just remaining super disruptive, and, and had to escalate through a partner, a law firm partner that Retail Bloom works with often to, to subpoena them right to subpoena Amazon provide the real identity of the sellers and send those escalated communications to those sellers. And thankfully, with that identity in hand, right, Stormy Kromer knew who they were. So there's, there's a few there's several different ways that as we were identifying these sellers and figure out who they were, they were addressed, which was, which was great, right, kind of like collaboration, teamwork of different ways of addressing the sellers. So what I guess Karen, I would just kind of ask like internally with your sales reps. Then, and even up the chain, as we were identifying some of these sellers, and then you had to take some of those efforts internally and either call or email them. I know, you and I talked to some of the like, responses, you got an emails, but what was the discussion internally, once maybe we identified some of those sellers that you actually, you know, had worked with, right, they were authorized, and they're kind of,

Karen Palmquist  40:19  

Oh you know, we're a brand that really treats our, you know, our partners, whether we're working on, you know, for our service, or our dealers, you know, as our customers, like family. So, there were a lot of sleepless nights, like wondering who this is, because it was so disruptive, we were getting many complaints from, you know, our authorized three P partners that, you know, it was killing the buy box and, you know, wanting us to take a return in them to be, you know, done with the brand, which is, you know, that hurts, you know, and we, we did take it, you know, very seriously. And so, I mean, once we figured it out, like it was, it was kind of both like this sigh of relief that like, you know, you finally know who it is, but like it really, again, like once it's somebody that knows what they what they're doing is wrong, you know, and it just, it was kind of like relief. But like you were still like, you know, a little bit upset that you were trying to do it for that long by somebody that knows the rules. I mean, there was a lot of sophistication with that they asked it, you know, several different addresses. And it was once you figured out one game that they would play, they had like two in line that you kind of had to play catch up with all over again. So it really, really was a lot of time involved.

Aaron Conant  41:39  

So a quick question that comes in around the TrackStreet piece. I know a lot of people are using different tools today, I think we kind of highlighted it's not enough just to have the tool, right? You identify it? Well, so what in the easiest ones that to pick off? Right? In the whack a mole scenario. They're not moving volume anyways. Right? It's the hard ones that are doing this sophisticated, you know, back end workaround. But then do you have people that then can cancel their TrackStreet, their map, track their mark track their, you know, whatever subscription? And they just get it through you? Like, how does that work? That's where people want to know, you want to know, where's the cost savings at? And then the next one, which I think you might get to, is what was the end result on sales? And so okay, you know, Andy do the first one, and then we can take the other one, the end result and sales over here?

Andy Buss  42:34  

Yeah. So yeah, that's good question. So how do we partner right with tracks very specifically in providing the services to clients? So TrackStreet is, you know, one of our obviously fantastic partners where we work super closely with TrackStreet. And so even at the level of when we're talking to brands prospectively, right, okay, this brand is interested, and they might need these services, you might be partnering with them to provide track it to this brand, we're talking with TrackStreet and their team all the time. So we know, you know, TrackStreet knows, we know the brands that we're having discussions with about partnering through Retail Bloom to use TrackStreet. And so one of the benefits of that is, we get a super great right price from TrackStreet as one of their partners that works so closely with them and adds so many brands and so many UPCS to their platform, we have a really great price that we're able to forward on a lot of those savings to our brand clients. So often we hear brands say, you know, that we are actually the quotes that we give them for the services are actually lower than what they're able to find from directly from other providers maybe even track that they talked to you years ago, right? Like, we're giving them a really great price because of the tight partnership and the great pricing we have with TrackStreet, but secondarily, we're able to work. You know, when you work through Retail Bloom, Retail Bloom to do TrackStreet services. It's kind of like a win win in that you're getting Retail Bloom’s expertise, our team's expertise, I think Karen would probably be great to speak to this, you get our expertise and our help with TrackStreet, you know, troubleshooting, setting it up, all that kind of stuff. But you also have access to our TrackStreet reps, and the people that support our whole client portfolio at TrackStreet. So you kind of get double the expertise, double the support. And and if you're doing anything else with Retail Bloom, if you're doing advertising, if you're doing content, like Stormy Kromer is for example, you're able to use the internal collaboration that we have at Retail Bloom right across our teams to really inform what you're doing on our on our track sheet or on our brand protection solution so that it's connected to the BuyBox efforts, the content and the merging of ASINs and whatever else you might be doing with our Client Services team. So hopefully that informs kind of that or answers that question of how we work with to actually get people loaded up on the TrackStreet.

Aaron Conant  44:54  

So the end results and maybe we're gonna get there anyways right is do you want to know Just to raise my sales, or am I just swapping from one to the other? Yeah.

Andy Buss  45:04  

Well, I'll let Karen speak definitely to the sales portion for Stormy. And I'll just ask you

Karen Palmquist  45:08  

in the sales? And also there's a question down in the box that and that kind of relates to like my answer to the question like, making sure you have the balance of the ROI for how what the cost involved is, with the growth that we've seen year over year, in the last three years, we have consistently grown and our online sales have, I would say, almost doubled, you know, since that time with more of the transition from our brick and mortar stores, to online and especially three P's. So when you have when you're seeing that growth and trying to you know, identify these problem areas. I want I'm not sure exactly what the Andy, maybe you can answer like what the cost was to subpoena Amazon, I think you can, yeah, you the letter. First we did a letter. And then we did have to subpoena I want to say it was like between 350 to 500 for only a few problem areas, but it covered quite a few, like three issues that we had. So overall, it was well worth it and being able to take down that cellar and have a clean marketplace. It only has strengthened, you know, the sale the sales with that.

Andy Buss  46:32  

Yeah, I do. I mean, to your point Karen, and I think when you're talking about that, like escalated and offline effort, when it's really disruptive seller, they won't comply. Yeah, that cost on working through our law firm partner to do the subpoena, the investigation, identify that seller was, it should be around, I won't say like four to 500. To do that subpoena effort. And you can put, you can put more than one seller, you can put up to I want to say 10 to 15 sellers, if you're like, hey, we have this program, they're infringing on our trademark, we want to know who these people are, and ask, you know, subpoena, right Amazon to figure this out. That effort can be done for like you said, hundreds, but it's not 1000s, it's hundreds of dollars to get that information. And that's obviously really helpful. So as you were speaking, I was just kind of filling in the bullet points here of the results of that full service project. So we had the 33 problem sellers that Karen initially identify kind of as, Hey, these are guys, we need addressed in one way or the other, right removed, identified, and we'll handle whatever it is there were 33. After about three and a half months of doing this project, you can see the results there, right 17 of those are completely gone and not selling any more from the marketplace that removed. There were another three that weren't dressed internally by Stormy Kromer. They're like, hey, we know who these people are. We'll talk we'll handle it. And then you can see kind of the sub bullets there. Up top. There were two, there's another two that are almost gone, right? A couple of them. I think Stormy Kromer was like, Hey, we they were they used to be authorized, we're gonna let them sell out. So they're kind of dwindling down their products, you can see that there. And then there's that one that with the the escalator process, disruptive seller identified and removed. There's one retail website that actually Stormy Kromer was like, you know, we, we know them, we liked them, they're able to sell they signed on to our authorized retail program. So they're in and then just summarize that last part there of how many cease and desist letters we we wrote sent out, you know, track for Stormy Kromer. Throughout that project was about 20 different letters to, which really speaks to I think that that 17 number of top 17 sellers removed, right, a lot of those letters went to those type of sellers that complied, you know, didn't want to have any further legal action, obviously, against them or anything like that and got removed. But you know, I just, that's, that's kind of the last slide of covering the journey for Stormy Kromer. So I'll just anything else I didn't, you know, touch on, we didn't get to Karen that you want to explain about how that project worked as results?

Karen Palmquist  48:58  

I don't think so. I think we did a good job of covering especially with, you know, for this particular project for 2021 in the third and fourth quarters. You know, with that slide of like, what that equated to and how, how that definitely helped. I think it it was great, and especially during the busy season when you're trying to take down the sellers, you know, certified letters, it is that continued follow up and tedious detailed, it does take quite a bit of time. So, yeah. By having Andy and his team, you know, help us with that. It was it made it made the overall project way more successful than I could have accomplished by myself internally. So you know, it was well well worth the investment for that.

Andy Buss  49:54  

Yeah, okay. And then there's, there's for sellers that didn't pull that last boy Other sports sellers with with one listing left. So obviously not super disruptive. But there are four of those then that remain with with one listing that hopefully disappear, sell out of that listing. But you always get those, those one off, guys with one listing, they got the head somewhere and they trying to get trying to get rid of it somewhere in the marketplace. But so thank you so much, Karen, for walking through us with walking through that with us and explaining that. And I just wanted to remind everyone, I think Aaron will speak to kind of how the recording of this will get delivered soon. But as it does, I want to just call out that from Retail Bloom, we can, if you fire back to that email, you'll get from BWG about this webinar with requesting the brand health dashboard from Retail Bloom, we can provide you with what you see here, which is basically a preliminary marketplace scan of who's out there on your marketplaces, who's selling your brand, as well as an Amazon and etailer scan provided by our tracks through partnership, that'll show what's going on on Amazon, all the different websites that you are probably might might not have visibility into currently that you have products sold on. So if you fire back to that email that you'll get about the webinar with requests for this brand health score, we can provide that to you as well.

Aaron Conant  51:10  

Awesome. Well, I think we're wrapping it up pretty much. Right on time. I don't know if there's other questions. You know, that that will come in? I mean, here we have, what is the difference between level one and level two? And in a situation like you're describing, is it a monthly cost? Just on average, what does that run? There's kind of two questions that

Andy Buss  51:33  

Yeah, good question. Yeah. So level one, level two, when I was referencing the cease and desist letters here, basically will world and I'll do this with many brands, right, where we'll send out a cease and desist letter that says, let's say more nicely, right? We have a reseller program in place, right? Stormy Kromer. We have this program in place, you're infringing on our trademark, please stop selling please comply by x date, right? Or we're going to have to escalate this further. Right. They don't comply, they're still selling after a couple of weeks or whatever timeframe, the brand mites that will do a second season desist letter, and we call I call it level two, because basically, we crank it up a notch right that that language is escalated, it's, it might have a more serious deadline might reference that outside counsel might start getting involved and might be the mention of a complaint that could be filed, etc. Right. So obviously, the brand will have final sign off on what that language is. But the language is escalated the he gets turned up a little bit in that second level for the for those sellers. And to your question about kind of the cost or how the month how the fee was, was worked for this for this project, it is it was a monthly fee, we built a project for Stormy where hey, here's what we'll deliver, right, here's what we'll be doing. And then there's a monthly fee associated with that. And that's typically how we would operate with the brands doing our brand protection efforts. There's a monthly fee for the track sheet services or the seller side the monitoring and enforcement services. And if there's a full service element to that, because we do provide those full the full service model, right, where we're actually running traffic for the brand day to day and operating the the enforcement platforms, platforms for them, it'll be a separate monthly charge to do that, typically, depending on the amount of UPCS, right, the the the tasks is all right, we're doing a lot of seller investigations or not. The field typically range between, I want to say 12 to 1500 or so per month on that on that type of service. So

Aaron Conant  53:34  

Awesome. Awesome. And, you know, I think we're literally right here at time. We said we wrap up with three to four minutes ago again, thanks so much. You know, Andy and Karen for your time today. Thanks for being so open to share with the network. And Andy, thanks for being such great friends and partners to so many brands in the network as a whole. You know, look for a follow up email from us. I encourage everybody have a follow up conversation with the team here at Retail Bloom. Please ping them for that brand scorecard. I think it's worth it. But also if you're having any issues in this area whatsoever, they're helping a ton of brands and just come highly recommended for the services. Also Amazon one p three P account management as well. I'd pick their brains and put some time on the calendar. From my standpoint, I'd love to have a conversation with you as well look for a follow up email from me. It's from those conversations that we can network knowledge share for the for the network as a whole but also it's how we get the ideas for the next round of topics as a whole we try to stay really relevant not scheduling anything more than eight weeks out. Also if you ever have any questions or you need any recommendations on service providers, and that's anything from Amazon, obviously brand protection to drop shipping to pay media to you know, any of the the craziness the chargebacks on Amazon, or on the direct consumer side the platforming platform selection, performance marketing, don't ever hesitate to reach out we've got a short list provided by the brands in the network. And with that, we're going to wrap it up. Hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday everybody take care. Stay safe. We're forward to having you at a future event. Look for a follow up email from us. We'll be in touch. Thanks again, Andy. Thanks, Karen.

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