Unauthorized third-party sellers can significantly harm brand equity, harm MAP programs, damage relationships with authorized sellers and substantially interfere with eCommerce growth. Controlling online sales is key to profitable growth in today’s market. According to a Forrester survey, brands with “e-control in place reported 83% fewer gray-market sellers (83%), higher levels of advertised price consistency (79%), and more profit (70%) than those without e-control.”
BWG Connect & Vorys eControl invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.
As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.
Partner and Chair at Vorys eControl
Whitney Gibson is a Partner, Chair, and eControl Attorney for Vorys eControl, an online seller enforcement team. Whitney integrates technology, data, and services to confront online sales control challenges. He also provides manufacturers with innovative approaches to protect and grow brands online. Whitney received his JD from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
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. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
Does your current online brand protection strategy feel like a game of whack-a-mole? Like you’re constantly trying to get rid of counterfeit products, but never really getting ahead of the competition? What if there was a better way to protect your brand?
Brands have to protect themselves, so they have control. The team of legal experts at Vorys eControl formulates strategies to wipe out unauthorized sellers to protect businesses. This helps companies achieve higher profits by aligning the right authorized sellers with the brand. Having a plan and procedure in place prevents brands from constantly clearing out problems as they crop up and concentrate on legitimate, profitable product sales.
In this virtual event, Aaron Conant is joined by Whitney Gibson, Partner, Chair, and eControl Attorney at Vorys eControl, to discuss steps to stop unauthorized sellers. Whitney talks about how to implement a quality control program, how KPIs can dig out violators, and why sales control is essential to increasing profits.
Aaron Conant 0:18
Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the co founder and managing director at BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands who we do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it is that shaping the digital landscape as a whole. Any point in time you have any questions in the digital landscape, that's everything from Amazon, direct consumer international expansion, drop shipping, whatever it is, don't ever hesitate to shoot me an email email@example.com, talking with 30 Plus brands a week stay on top of what's what's working, what's not, as well as who's working and who's not, if you're looking for any kind of service providers don't ever hesitate, probably connected with another brand of the network that's going through the same issue. And you guys can network together.
A couple housekeeping items as we get started here. The first one is we're starting at three to four minutes after the hour, and just you know, we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes to go in the hour as well. So just know, if you're looking at your watch, we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late.
And the other thing is yet drop any questions you have real time along the way into the chat, you can drop it into the q&a section, or you can always email me Aaron Aaro n at BW CI connect comm that includes you know, an hour after the call tomorrow, next week, any time you have questions just, you know, reach out more than happy to get back to you in under a day or so. And with that, we're going to go ahead and kick this, this event off preparing for 2022. So, you know, somebody that's been coming up, I just mentioned a little bit in the pre call chit chat is over and over again, you know, filling a lot more questions in the, you know, brand protection on authorized reseller space, just, you know, people that didn't have an issue with it, you know, a year and a half ago, maybe their sales weren't big enough, and now they've exploded or they, you know, caught fire on Amazon or their marketplaces. And now they're realizing, Wait, you know, these these people are, they're picking my products, you know, the products they sell based on top sellers that are out there. And so brands, you know, organizations that didn't have issues with it a year ago, now all of a sudden, are having a huge issue. And so we've got some great friends, partners and supporters of the network. They're working with, you know, more brands from our network in this space than anybody else that's out there. And just around, you know, just, you know, wicked smart people
over at Boise control. And so, you know, Whitney, do you want to jump in, you know, brief intro on yourself in Boise control the awesome, we have some more people dialing in, and then we can kind of jump into the information.
Whitney Gibson 2:47
Yeah, sounds good. Thank you, Aaron.
Baron said, my name is Whitney Gibson, I'm chair of Ortiz II control. We worked with over 500 brands and helping them control the sales of their products online.
Aaron Conant 3:01
And so I think once you get everybody on, I'm just going to do a brief overview of some of the core strategies capabilities that brands need to, to implement to get control in the age of E commerce, and then leave time for questions, dive into detail any particular issues that we want to focus on. So thanks for having me. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And so hey, is everybody sharing just a quick note, you have any questions along the way, drop in the chat q&a, or email them to me Aaron AR O N at PwC connect comm we'll get them answered. But let's go ahead and kick it off. I know, a lot of this stuff that we go through, is just kind of gets in the weeds, which is great, because this is, you know, not something that you can just, you know, throw a random SaaS based solution at. So, you know, we need to kind of kick it over to you to kind of walk us through this slide today. Yeah, that sounds great. So I just wanted to kind of give some of the fundamentals because people if we, hopefully it'll help answer the questions, some of the basic questions people have, and then we can focus in so I'm gonna talk to you about
Whitney Gibson 4:08
controlling sales in the age of E commerce, what that means, what it all what it all entails. And we, we glories came up with this new entirely new category that we call E control. And really, it's about helping brands, control their brand control their sales, their advertised pricing in the age of E commerce. And it's really different than just traditional online brand protection. When we know, traditional online brand protection is a category that emerged as the internet per screw and people said, well, internet's growing. There's counterfeits. There's trademarks, there's copyrights all over the internet. And technology companies came out said, Hey, we can monitor those weekend.
requests the marketplaces take
Down listings, and we can send you reports that we're doing that. And we will do that on a regular basis. And basically brands became an industry known as whack a mole, you would request that something get taken down, marketplace, maybe take it down, maybe not, they take out some more, and you get these reports that show, hey, I'm taking things down, they're popping back up and taking these down, pop back up.
That's kind of good enough, because really, it allows brand protection people inside companies to say, look, here's what we're doing. I've got I'm monitoring, I'm taking things down. Yeah, there's always stuff out there. But but that's that's really how we approach this. And then what happened is, ecommerce started to grow. And all of a sudden, these channels where it was okay, just to play Whack a Mole became channels where the sales and the margin were really important to the brand, not not just in the sales that were occurring in the revenue and margin that were occurring on Amazon and other marketplaces. But because of the eyeballs and the evolution of technology, the pricing and what was going on those marketplaces also became really important across the business as omni channel started to emerge. And we all have phones in our hands. And we people are showing clerks in stores what the price is over on Amazon, all of a sudden now that sort of impact what was going on in Target and Walmart, even in other brick and mortar channels, because price matching started to rise. And now the margin across the entire company was being impacted with what was going on online. Bam, Amazon grew a lot. Also, really by going out and taking advantage of a lack of control that brands had, over their distribution prior to age of E commerce brands, really played a game of selling to distributors having distributors sell as broad and widely as possible. And
they didn't really care that there was little control over where their products when or how their price because there was not much transparency. If somebody violated one to break price on the street in New York, it did not impact what happened in LA. But as the Amazon grew, it says, Alright, brands only have good control, we'll go out we'll find all these distributors will find these great market folks will incentivize them all to sell on the marketplace. And we'll try to get brands on there, we'll create this marketplace for the brands and distributors and gray market sellers all compete against each other to lower the price. And it became sort of a chaotic mess for brands, they did not have control over the distribution of products then. So a lot of brand protections, companies were still trying to go at, hey, you need to remove a counterfeit, you're gonna do a copyright. But as we dove in 80% of the brands problems were really more lack of control over their distribution they didn't like getting requesting a counterfeit, very removed or copyright image removed is easy. But the reality is, is they had their products being sold by all these different people, whether their own channels, whether liquidation whether third party sellers, were all selling. So again, this category II control, we're going to help brands give them the control to thrive in this new environment. And that was sort of our mission statement to be the leader and doing that. A we build a multi disciplinary team around that from channel management experts, the legal strategy to investigation, build out data technology team, all to provide holistic solutions to get brands the control they need
to to succeed in this new environment got once we started going around, we felt we started meeting with brands and presenting this, this, that brands it was something they really needed and it was not did not exist in the market. So we grew really fast. Um, you know, many moms will sign up 10, eight $10 billion brands and montway are up over 500 brands right now, many of the largest global brands in the world we work with today. Um, so now, as I said, overwhelming number of violations, this is what brands started to face online. These violations are always changing on Authorized Version, authorized seller policy violations, off channel pricing issues, marketplace, you know, ecommerce teams, saying I need that control, I need to be in the buy box to control my advertising because if I'm not in the buy box, I can't run the advertising I need. Or if I don't, if I can't sell the price, I walk through all the sellers that are on there, Amazon's gonna ask me for price concessions, and I'm going to become unprofitable or my margins gonna go down or hey, I want to do a three P strategy with Amazon on Amazon. But no three P sellers gonna really invest in my growth because I haven't done what's necessary to get the control. So control is really key to ecommerce teams to be able to grow online. It's also control to the other part. It's also important for other parts of the business they
win. This just gives you an example of how the ecosystem can get really messed up. If you don't have good control. A distributor may sell products on Amazon maybe one of the divertor reseller, Amazon dropped a massive price than the national retailer.
will drop to match that price and get discounts, then what will happen is someone, an individual will go in the store and they'll show the price of Amazon and that retailer further drop. And then what will happen is that retailer, go back to the brand, demand the price concession. And all of a sudden now the brand, the commerce teams mad because it can't control what's going on the marketplace, the brick and mortar sales team is losing margin there. And so it becomes sort of a big mess that impacts all the business. One of the things that we preach regularly with brands is go look at this holistically. This is why we look at control, we look at how are we going to control your distribution. And also how are we going to do monitoring and precision enforcement. Those are two key things that we bring together, um, to get control the sales online. And so a lot of brands will go play whack a mole on Amazon, but not deal with the issue of manufacturer or distributor distributor, diverter, diverter, selling online, or all those other types of issues that can occur what we call below the iceberg.
So here's the challenge, the challenge is that there's all these different types of violations that disrupt your sales and price. Okay, all different types of sellers, and they have very impact, some cause a little impact, some cause a lot of impact. And they're constantly changing. And right now, there really isn't a category that brands out there that that looked at all these issues together yet brand protection companies that just look for IP infringement, you got law firms that, hey, I want to go and, you know, pay me a bunch of money. And I'll draft a contractor agreement, or C and D letter, you got companies that will just fling letters, then you got the price monitoring. And, you know, they a lot of everyone's trying to pitch Hey, on the solution. And the brand only has a limited amount of budget and time. So when we looked at EA control,
we knew that there's all these issues going on, we wanted to build a comprehensive platform that could really address this control issue. So we have industry professionals, we have, we'll get into sort of data and insights that help us determine, basically, how's the business performing what's disrupting the business, it helps drive which solutions and then we have a platform of services that we put on top of our data technology to solve the problem. So Foundation team channel management, investigation enforcement, and global partners. So real quickly, holistic solutions, alright, you're, we believe in integrated solutions, we don't believe in just a tool, we want to put together something that actually solves the problem. So we look at that it is defined, you're going to mark it, right, you're going to you want to get the right foundation in place, you want to have the monitor, you want to decide what monitoring investigation, precision enforcement, you're going to do. Alright, you want to then figure out where the root cause is, and cut it off. So I'm going to sort of go through these. So this is always a good picture of resonates a lot of people because really, for most brands, this is the problem. This is the transformation they need to go through, they need to go from the left hand side, authorized sellers port ratings over the right hand side with 90% of the sales going out the door to the seller they want at the price they want.
It's key a look at it this way, because I don't believe in reports of here's how many sellers were removed. Here's how many you know, Matt violations I've stopped by or even how many here's how many sellers exist on the marketplace, I want to look at from what the business needs, is they need 90% of the sales of the price they want. And the solution has to drive towards that. So how do you get to that right hand side? You know, one of the first things is you want to define your go to market strategy do you want on the marketplaces, do you want to go one p two and a three P? Do you want to go hybrid? Alright, exactly how do you want to go in the marketplace, and there's all these different levels of control. And different things you can do you can a lot of some brands exist out here on the left hand side, which is they don't have any real strategy, they just let whoever wants to sell some people sell one P some do a hybrid. Right? Some will do three P somebody can sell themselves. You know, our job in the control group is to help people achieve their optimal distribution.
And the first thing we got to ask them is to work with that was Brandon, what is your optimal distribution from a commercial perspective? Once we do that, we then want to typically get that 98% sales going out whichever these purchases they want at the price they want. Alright, so So what are some of the fundamentals right? First is authorized reseller program you've got ever once we know their optimal distribution, we then get take policies. We send them to the distributors, we ask them that they provide to the resellers. And
we provide them directly to the people we sell to and typically it says look you can sell on your own website, but you can't sell on the marketplaces without your approval. Alright, this is key because you got to have something you can point to when you find authorized sellers are selling on the marketplaces and you got to give
The guidelines, you don't want to let a bunch of your authorized sellers sell on the marketplace. Um, and what they'll end up doing is just beating each other up competing on price. And it'll be very difficult to ever maintain any control. So, you know, we want a customer that basically will often meet with the key stakeholders and say, what does an ideal state look like on the right for you? How do you optimally want to go to market and force them to think about that? Alright, you know, once we do that, again, we put in these chant, we put in the policies, here's an example of your retailer, you have an authorized reseller policy, says, Look, you're allowed to sell products, if you want to sell online, you got to do an online application and agreement on where you're going to sell will simply allow you to sell on your own website, if you do a distributor, you're gonna get them authorized distributor policy, and then to the reseller, you're gonna give them a policy that they want to sell online, they gotta sell they are apply.
Once you do that, the other key thing you got to do in our what we call our foundational stage, is do the unauthorized, the legal foundation. Now, the foundation's key because in the US, if someone buys wants to buy and resell your products, they typically can do that. And they're allowed to under what's called the first sale doctrine, they can buy and resell your products, there's nothing that you can do about it. Now, that's true unless they're selling a product that's materially different than your product, or a product that's outside of your quality controls. All right, now material difference can be many different types of differences, it can be maybe the product isn't covered by the warranty, maybe it's not covered by a satisfaction guaranteed. Maybe that's different packaging, maybe it's not current on the loyalty program, maybe it's maybe there's you don't get the same customer service. It doesn't have to be a physical difference, it can be a non physical difference and one differences efficient.
The other thing it can be is quality control exception. So if I have quality controls that are in place in my authorized channel, and the unauthorized seller that's selling and selling in a way that interferes with those outside of them, then I can have legal claims against them that there's something outside of my quality controls. And so in the age a commerce we believe strongly of experts supported and the courts have approved as well. That age of E commerce, your brands can administer heightened quality controls, maybe we don't want people to sell anonymously, we want people buy directly from us, we want
people to opt out of commingling on Amazon, we want. You know, we want to be able to bet a seller, there's any number of things. And the reality is you only need one material difference or quality control violation. So the key is finding out what works best for the business. A lot of times we'll implement a quality control program that authorized sellers have to report any damage products they got here and here to our storage guidelines. They have to cooperate with us at a minimum recall.
And then last specific things that apply to online cancel anonymously, maintain accurate product descriptions, got to gain approval for use of third party fulfillment.
And here's a number of other things that will do and again, it's working with the brand figure out what makes sense for them. Alright, with that we even have quality controls that are specific to the marketplaces, no comingling opt out of Amazon refurbish program, live list products only on approved Easson reports our performance metric data, maintain acceptable feedback. Alright, so you have you do these things, well, then, as part of the quality control program typically work with the brand stuff, a process where they're doing some auditing, making sure that it's being complied with. But ultimately, we want to put a brand in a position where with respect to its
authorized sellers, if it sells, if it finds them selling in a place that it shouldn't, they can use its channel control policies, its authorized reseller and if it's going on authorized, it has good trademark claims. They're not protected by the first sale doctrine. And they can either rely on a material difference or a quality control key. We, if you're working with lawyers, we just got a really good decision where we the court actually grant us summary judgment against the defendant, meaning our claims are so strong on these theories, that they didn't even have an issue of fact, we're not able to defend themselves. And so we've got some really good case law to support this, that really helps us in our enforcement. So that foundation is critical. Um, and then once we get to that, then we we go into enforcement mode. And enforcement is really one called data driven precision enforcement. And as you heard me say earlier, there's all these different types of violations. They're constantly changing. And so we So, what happens is one fragmented approach does not solve the ultimate, it does not get the brand to the ultimate KPIs of the sales and pricing that it wants. If you're going after counterfeiter one day, you gotta want to you need a legal plan. The next day you got to go to a lawyer, you need to do a marketplace takedown, some company that does that official. So we wanted to build through the front
as comprehensive platform of capabilities that we can effectively apply that precise approach against the most impactful sellers,
to be able to get the best ROI. So the way we look at this as we want to look at business performance analytics, we look at advanced seller insights. And then we have our 360 tactics, that we use that to find basically this sweet spot right here in the middle of or of what is going, what work is going to move the KPIs the most, right? So instead of, you know, whack a mole, we want to move those commercial KPIs focus. So we build an entire team focused on data driven insights for our clients.
We have director of data analytics, we have process experts, channel management experts.
They're all focused. And basically, what they help us do is aggregate data. They put all that into data warehouse, and they help us deliver insights that support our data driven precision enforcement. So it's crazy volumes of data. I mean, we have a lot of clients will monitor 96 times a day to get these insights we have, we have data from 60,000 enforcement actions, almost a million seller and diverter IDs. So all this data that goes into our database helps inform because we can see from enforcement actions, where does this type, where's the seller gotten products from in the past? What tactics works going against the seller? What types of violations are they committing how much of an impact they're having on KPIs, you can use all that. So when I break it down, a lot of times, let's say I'm doing enforcement for a brand, the first thing I want to do and working with a brand, is I want to get an ongoing report that we can look at us and the brand together on a regular basis that measures their commercial KPIs that they're interested in.
Because if you can't track that, how do you how can you measure the impact that you're having on the business?
And so I'm going to look at here's an example, let's say a brand is selling. And I want to look at what is the authorized revenue they're doing. So that's an orange on top and I want to look at the percent of of on authorized revenue versus authorized revenue, I want to look at the monthly authorized revenue. That is be that's that the brand is generating? I want to look at how much they're losing to the buy box. And then on the left is some math that our data teams put together that helps us sort of calculate what do we think we're losing to unauthorized versus authorized sales.
And I also want to read a lot of brands also want to look at pricing, average pricing for products, average pricing across portfolios, depending on what the brand is most concerned about. But I want to drive ah, often sales and average pricing can vary depending on their one p three P we can set these up depending on what products I have all different types of KPI reports that we worked with brands. So there's a nice menu there. Now what I want to do is I want to figure out what's disrupting those. And so what our data science team has come up with is
different ways of looking at that one is what we call a price and in sales impact disruption score. And so it helps us look and we can toggle depending upon whether the price is most important, or the sales are most important. But we can toggle and figure out.
If you look on the left hand side, you see that's how I can I can adjust the scoring based on what's most important. But then what I'm going to look at is what is having the biggest impact and
we find all these marketplaces is the 8020 rule typically applies at 80% of what you see as sort of the top 20% causes 80% of the problem. And so it's really important the data here and prioritization is really key. So we're focusing our efforts. You know, a lot of people actually do the opposite when you're trying to do I see brands sign up for low cost sort of SaaS solutions, they look. Okay, so I removed and they're getting rid of the people that have no impact. What we're trying to do is flip it, we're saying we're taking your resources and focus thing, same budget often and focusing them on the people that are having the biggest impact so we can move those KPIs. Another thing on certain marketplaces, the data team can get the estimated revenue that's going to the unauthorized that helps and setting budget it helps again and focusing on who to go after. Then we want intelligence on the violations and the sellers that have that drive our enforcement actions. So typically, I'm going to look and see what type of enforcement have I done for brands in the past, like what has worked, what hasn't worked against that particular seller? In our database, we can often see that I want to see location locations key because it helps me often know what legal claims I have. It helps me understand are they in an area a hotbed of diversion. You know, I want to look at how they behaved in the past and response to different actions.
i This is really key. This is really important to me is the Source Intelligence.
A lot of times when brands come in today because of the database that
They give me a seller, I can look and see, where's that brand source products? Where's that seller source products for other brands. And when I do that,
it's really helpful because I'm not, I don't want to maybe engage in a legal action. But that's otter, sometimes maybe I just want to cut off the source. Sometimes I say, Look, we go fight with a seller. But if you don't change your liquidation, problems that you have selling through at&t, then they're going to constantly sellers like this are constantly gonna be getting products. And so that's where we have what we call our root cause. And corrective action team will look at this. And, yes, we'll do some enforcement beginning but we'll quickly be counseling the brand, if we see an issue that is constantly going to keep causing problems, sometimes it may be Look, you're, we see people that are buying 100 products off your website, because you're doing a buy one, get one free, you keep running that buy one, get one free, they're going to constantly buying products and put them on the marketplace. So usually, the people that are working, especially because they're working a lot tied to the same industry, they can pretty quickly figure out what the root causes in the source and help figure that out. Trends are important if someone's selling our products as we want to wait and just give them the opportunity to sell out. Obviously flagging things that are IP infringement marketplace policy violations, we can do those to get them taken down. So ultimately, we use all that together to sort of a methodology of looking at KPIs, looking at disruption, taking the data on the sellers and then applying the different approaches. So that's where sort of our I think our 360 capabilities are coming places. We want to do this all for one monthly budget. And so what we say is, we've got low cost enforcement attorneys, low cost enforcement staff, we have investigators, um, and so there, we have like a room of fortunately, they can constantly do this at a low cost rate, applying the different tactics. So you know, really, we believe that we've changed the game here, you know, the traditional brand protection a whack a mole is dead. And that sort of focusing, especially if you're in the E commerce, space, or care about those metrics, precision control of segmenting the sellers on their impact types of violations. But focusing on the ones in the right tactics to drive the commercial KPIs are the most important thing and applying the precise tactics on the right hand side, as opposed to just one one set.
So, you know, we think this approach reduces legal risk targets, the most relevant violation saves people a lot of time and money proves ROI. Working with brands, we do it through a three step process strategy foundation enforcement's very clean. There's just a upfront strategy console, we look at what we see online, we do the console, and we develop a customized plan for that brand simply includes the foundation they're going to need, and then the monthly budget for the precision enforcement.
And then lots of case studies, the thing I love about working in this as the brands, typically,
if they leave, they leave with a problem solved and happy, or they work with us in all different types of control issues. But, you know, the big thing is, is is driving the KPIs for them and increase in sales, margin and other important business metrics. So here's an example brand comes in
from April 8 2018, October 2020, over times, he had 241% increase in sales, massive increase in the margin.
Here's examples. This is example of another company from August to July, you can see the 207 increase in total units sold
at 9% increase in volume. Here's an example. And a shorter period from just math compliance sales, on the marketplaces,
all different types of verticals. Here's an example of you look at the dark blue, that's unauthorized sales and the light blue is authorized.
Aaron Conant 28:59
So I won't, you know, go in all these but you can this is just sort of from our library of many different case studies of increasing revenue and changing the price So Aaron, I think with that I'll sort of stop I thank you for everybody for giving me time to give an overview of you know what he control really looks like I think that I'll just stop there and let you sort of field some questions. Yeah, absolutely. So now's a great time you know we got some questions that have come in if you have your own drop in the question section in the chat or you can always email me Aaron Aaro n at BW G connect comm I have a couple related you know, to kind of kick it off around you know, brand registry as a whole
and in the first one I just you know, why not just use brand registry Have you seen success with that?
And then the next one is around you know, the brand registry process. So yeah, I mean the brand right registry works.
Whitney Gibson 30:07
It helps to remove the counterfeit for a clear trademark, like a violation, where there's a trademark image or copyright. Problem is it does not work with non authorized just just like third party unauthorized sales diverters gray market. And so that's why, you know, part of our programs work with brands, we can run the brand registry enforcement or they can run it. But the lion's share of the issues that brands are facing, like if you want to get control the buy box, and really get to the average selling price that you're aiming for, you have to
you have to be able to deal with, you know, we have to be able to do our enforcement's or CMD letters, investigations records dealing with gray market authorized sellers, leveraging the material difference claims, leveraging the quality control claims. So it's one arrow in the quiver, but it doesn't, it's typically not enough to get the brand to where it wants from a commercial KPI perspective.
You're saying? Because if you think, you know if you've uploaded your images, right, when you do that, right, it's people can sell, you know, on on that listing, right, unless you found a way like you're talking about here to make it illegal. You know, that's not a trademark, it's not a patent issue or anything like that. Right. It's you uploaded it, you've given Amazon the revocable global rights to use that image anyway, they they see fit. So yeah, it's kind of weird. I mean, so the courts recognize, like our material different than quality control claims as a violation of a very specific statute called the Lanham Act. And it's, it's a essentially a trademark claim, but, but Amazon will remove on that basis, Amazon wants gray market sellers to be able to be on there. So we have to enforce directly against the sellers ourselves
on behalf of the brand. And so that's just how it practically works.
Aaron Conant 32:05
Do you have any, you know, advice and if this is something that we take offline, is says I can't get to the reseller evaluation until I get control of brand registry, the individual who has the administrator left the company and no one has access, right? So then you got people who are trying to get the brand registry in place to do all this stuff. And now, they can't actually do it, you have any tips to get access transferred from one person
who had left a company to another?
Whitney Gibson 32:34
Yeah, so we've definitely run into issues where people cannot access their brand registry through Amazon, we have a good contact and Amazon, whoever that is, they can email me, I'll put them in touch with Adam Sherman. And he can either help the person do that, or we just reach out to one of our contacts and Amazon see we get that fixed. But it's really an administrative thing.
But yeah, I, I may, it may require us to make a few calls, but But whoever that is, can feel free to email me and I can put them in touch or we can help them. Yeah, Carrie, just shoot us a note. We'll make sure you connect with Whitney for sure.
Aaron Conant 33:14
Let's go we got a bunch more coming in here. Cry tackle motor. Does this process always involve moving from one p two, three P on Amazon? Another way to put it? Are you seeing this just as much on the one P sighs You are for three P side? And then the next thing is around Walmart.
Whitney Gibson 33:30
Yeah, so yes, definitely. I would say
our brands apply split one p versus three p half and a half. Um, yeah, I mean, the controls key, I mean, the key. If you're one P, you may not have quite as big a problem with unauthorized sales, because Amazon will just drop the price and use its own algorithms to get in the buy box. The problem is, is that
that drop, they'll then charge back the brand and the brand will loses profitability, and then that price will impact other channels. But the other thing is, even if it's one p we are seeing, we do see brands one P
let's say they're getting 90% of the buy box, I think that's great, but we've seen brands where we increased it from 90 to 94. And it's like 10 million bucks. So part of it's just an ROI perspective. Like, you know, if I'm a brand I want to know how much in the buy box we getting, you know, can I invest a little bit to get significantly more on the buy box and then you know, from a margin perspective, can I invest a lot more to improve my margin? I mean that's really
whether you're one p or three P
I think it's it's it's really just looking at those KPIs and seeing if there if there's opportunity to move them for more money.
Aaron Conant 34:49
Yeah, and that's what I see from my side is you know, one p three P both it is
top selling products and brands and everything on authorized resellers just want to resell those
No matter they don't care what side you're selling on, and they'll drive down the price. This one is in regards to Walmart How do you partner remove sellers in Walmart assuming a full and comprehensive strategy to remove three P sellers is in place, you know, how do you partner with Walmart consider their policy states, they won't remove any three P sellers.
Whitney Gibson 35:19
Again, so neither Amazon nor Walmart are going to remove those unauthorized three piece sellers for you. That's why
they frankly, that's why people have us do the enforcement. So we identify we our investigation team, our database, we identify who the sellers are.
And then we do the enforcement. So we do precision enforcement, we figure out the sellers are having the biggest impact. If they're violating a policy or something blatant, we'll submit a takedown but if not just an authorized seller, we'll send them a C and D letter on the grounds that will set a brand up with the right material difference or quality control claims. So the claims that apply against the authorized sellers on Amazon will also apply against those on Walmart.
And, you know, so we basically, we figure out who the sellers are, and we run enforcement directly against those sellers,
that we do not rely upon Amazon or Walmart to do the removing themselves. Unless it's something that's a blatant violation of policy, or something like that, then we can leverage it. But I mean, at the end of the day, what are
the people that work with the accounts on our team, their job is to move those KPIs with our full platform of capability. So they know we can do legal letters they know we can do, we can figure out where it's coming from and help the brand cut it off, we can do policy takedowns to the marketplace. And the key is just taking that full suite of capabilities, say Alright, you're giving me a monthly budget. And you want me to move these KPIs. Let me show you what I can do. And that's really what it comes down to. Because the right approach is going to vary depending upon the data.
Aaron Conant 37:02
And that's, so that's really how we approach it. No, yeah, I'd love it. Because it's not the right Amazon's not gonna take them down. Right, because they might have 150 products, they're selling completely legitimately, what you're doing is a these products is now illegal for you to sell, because they are not the exact same because of the material difference that that you put in place. So step one is, you know, getting that, that policy in place, and then you can enforce it by just, you know, telling them like you, it's illegal for you to do this, you need to stop selling our products, you're not going in and shutting down a seller across the board that correct? Yeah, that's right. Yeah. So for a lot of these sellers will say, Look, you are selling outside of our quality controls, or, and or you're selling a material difference. Here's the case law, why that's illegal, you need to stop immediately. Here's all the lawsuits we filed for other brands, here's the cases and let us know, you know, and typically, they'll go away.
Whitney Gibson 38:00
You know, we can do draft complaints, we can again, often figure out where they're getting it from. So you can call the source.
Whitney Gibson 38:10
You know, people can look the look up, and they'll see voice has been very serious and action. And a lot of times, they'll say Screw this, and they'll just go sell other brands. So
you know, part of it is we say there's a bunch of houses on the street, you want to be the house of the big barking dog out front. So they go rob other houses, I mean, you do not want to be a sort of a vulnerable place, because they'll take advantage of that.
Aaron Conant 38:36
So a couple others that come in here.
What territories Do you work in? And do you monitor right now?
And then another one is how do you differentiate strategies by channels? Or is it the same strategy just you know, execute against different people?
Whitney Gibson 38:54
So typically, in the US, it's Amazon, eBay, WalMart. We have a program that we run in Europe. And we do the all the strategy foundation enforcement there. And then we have one in Canada, one in Australia.
We're, we have our MVP out for China right now. We're very excited about that.
Those those are sort of the different regions. And then the strategy doesn't vary much by by channel.
Whitney Gibson 39:38
we have people that understand the different policies on the different channels. They're what, what they're willing to do, but really the strategy of
what are you trying? What are you trying to do from What's your most important KPI? Are you trying to visit your sales, your pricing in these channels and then
Using data to figure out who's disrupting it, and then the tactics.
The tactics may be a little bit depending on what the marketplace policies are.
The brand, you know, and but it's ultimately trying to get to those KPIs. And so an example, maybe why we, we sort of like,
I wouldn't say leave our tactics flexible. But we want to use our discretion to get the brand as quickly as I want. So let's say I've got a brand that
is in the Health and Beauty space. And I get on there. And I actually see
the other have an unauthorized problem. But I look down I see they got some counterfeiters. And then I go to brand registry contracts. And I say, look, we've got some counterfeit issues, can you remove those, and they remove them. And I'm doing the unauthorized enforcement on the material difference quality controls, but but I know the way Amazon behaves, and I say, Okay, I'm going to ask two more times for carpets. And then I'm going to put together a case that I'm then going to send to my legal contact to Amazon and say,
we've we've consistently removed these counterfeiters, and
the problem doesn't seem to be going away, we believe we should be entirely gated, and only be able to have approved people. So I'm going to, I'm going to use that with that brand, for finding a category where they don't counterfeit, or I don't think eating is a possibility that I'm gonna use a little different. So, um, but I think that it really, it's got to have the quality, you got to have the legal foundations to do the enforcement first. And then you can go out and do that enforcement. And that's, that's just a critical success.
Aaron Conant 41:44
Awesome. You know, the next 170 issues with authorized sellers, and jumping on and off for certain products in our catalog is a guarantee that they will not sell our listing again, once they remove it. How does that work? Or is it just?
Do you just move in with legal action at that point in time?
Whitney Gibson 42:03
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it's not guaranteed that they're going to come back. But we find that you sort of have some heavy enforcement beginning and then it goes down more than me.
Whitney Gibson 42:17
And, again, a lot of people just, they don't really want to deal with it. They know, if you have a program, you're serious about it, you may want to take one action, like to show people you're very serious, but they know that and they typically it's just not worth it, this is a business decision for them. Okay, and there's lots of other places they can go get products. Now, maybe they want to get into selling us products that you know, is actually used.
But we find that there's typically an initial cleanup, and then there's, and then you have to keep an eye on there may be new people that pop up here and there. But it gets much, it gets much more manageable, less costly as you go forward. So I, I think it's,
Whitney Gibson 43:03
it's not, I feel like it if you get the right foundation, you do the enforcement and you are sort of looking at the root cause you really, I think if you asked most the brands that were what they they would say, the brands that we work with, it's not really whack a mole that you're just constantly going after people in the promises the same I think
you're getting, you're getting the problem down to a very miniscule amount. And there's some ongoing monitoring that goes on and enforcement here and there, but most of the time they don't come back because they know you're really taking it seriously
Aaron Conant 43:38
how that question coming in, how long does it take to roll out a policy like this.
Whitney Gibson 43:43
Um, it usually takes two to three months.
Usually, like a brand like a brand calls me today, I said look, we got to get strategy console set up and just a real small Flappy, we don't make money off it, but some of the show brand serious and then we'll look at all their policies, we'll look at a do a latency our data, we'll look and see what we see online, we'll send out a questionnaire to that gets information from different stakeholders in the business. And then what we do is we take all that, and then we prepare a roadmap and a strategy for that brand to give them control. And we present that to the stakeholders in the business. So we want to typically try to get alignment among the legal the commerce team, the sales team, you know, a lot of times e commerce personal bring us in, and they're in favor. But you know, I'm skeptical that, you know, the legal person will come in and like I don't know you Borys AND, and OR the sales team will be like, hey, what do you really want to put tighter control on myself, but we have to lay it all out for the business. And we're usually able to get everyone to kind of understand why this is good for all channels. And then and also help the legal team understand I mean, we have competition lawyers, antitrust lawyers compliance. I mean, we're a big firm. This is really amazing.
addition that was born out of a law firm. And so it's been a blast and backed by the big law firm, but we try to operate more like an efficient enforcement group. So we try to combine that so we can give the legal people comfort, that, that it's backed and not some loosey goosey program.
But so we go and we do that strategy first month, usually takes about a month to get ready to do it, then if they want to move forward, then we draft the policies, get everything ready these couple of weeks, then get blessed by the brand, then we want to roll it out. And we can help with implementation, some education, to the sales channels.
usually want to give them like 30 days notice that, hey, these are our policies are going to go in place 30 days, so you can sell out, do what you need to do. And then they go live, and then we can begin enforcement. Um, and
usually we pretty get pretty aggressive right off the bat. So that's typically sort of the sequence of events.
Aaron Conant 46:00
Awesome. Love it, you know, necessarily. So is it a SAS base? Like program? Is it a subscription based program? You know, the, the cost side is a question that popped up.
Yeah, how do you how do you determine the business model? Is that like a one off conversation by brand, depending on how much work they need?
Whitney Gibson 46:21
Yeah, so the way we approach it is, I mean, full transfer, it's like a $5,000, flat fee for the strategy console, then a foundation, we have a flat fee that we do for that, depending on how much foundation they need.
And we have a flat fee we do for the foundation, and then the monthly enforcement, we set a monthly enforcement budget that we don't exceed, and we talk about, here's how many hours you're going to get, you're going to get the data, you're going to get our technology, plus, you're going to get our enforcement services all for one monthly enforcement budget. And we tell brands, you can cancel anytime, you know, I should have I brought in some fight, finance person, or somebody may say, yeah, you can get everybody sign up for a year long subscription. But
we don't really have probably once brands starts working with us, we want to show them the value, and how we can move the KPIs to build that long term relationship anyway. So we just say, look, here's the monthly enforcement budget, you know, you can stop anytime, if you feel like you're not getting the results you want. And we just go in and we do the enforcement, we're meeting with the brand regularly showing them, here's what we did, here's the KPIs removed. And then you know, the goal over time to you know, reduce the amount of enforcement the budget
over time, but you know, that budgets going to be set, you know, we're going to look at the ROI or look at how many sellers they have just what we think what us on the brand side makes sense, given where they're at.
Aaron Conant 47:42
Awesome, are there other questions that come up routinely that we didn't get to today? And just a quick reminder, if you have questions, you can drop in the question there in the chat or keep emailing them to me, are there other questions that come up routinely that you asked that just didn't get asked today?
Whitney Gibson 48:06
Um, excuse me. You know, a lot of people are will say,
a lot, they will say, what I like about this is
that I, when I talk, when I look at other things in the market, it just feels very fragmented. I can go here and I can get a map or I can go here and I can get a counterfeit tool, I can go talk to my lawyer. And so what I hear a lot of people say is, you know, I like how you put it all together. It's a very simple three step process.
And it's outcome based versus just demonstrating activity.
And so once people kind of understand that, and what it all takes, it's typically pretty straightforward. I mean, a lot of times last year, can you help with change management, and we usually say, like, the strategy, like we do the strategy console, you have no commitment after that, you can just do that. We can sell it internally, hey, these folks work with many people in our industry, you know, and they can come in and they can look our situation and give us a three hour workshop on how to gain control in the age of E commerce. And, and, you know, we can learn from it.
And so usually people kind of stall that internally, you get the budget for it, and then and then from there,
then everyone gets aligned, and, you know, it goes forth. So I think that education, we found that education and strategy is key, um, in, in, in sort of, in sort of helping in sort of helping folks. So I'm trying to think I mean, people ask in Europe, you know, there's a lot of people want to get into the Europe programs and there there's a lot of people thinking about distribution and
should we go selective distribution versus
versus our current approach, the laws are actually getting much more favorable to brands over there now.
Now, giving them more ability to do control. So that's interesting. See lots of cross border sales right now. So I'm really excited, we've invested so much in our global capabilities, because I think all this is going to be an interconnected ecosystem. And that's where Amazon launched in the marketplaces won. And so I think brands are, you know, long term as ecommerce pros are going to have to be able to, we have sellers that are based in Canada, getting their products in the US selling into Europe, and then people in Europe, you know, getting their products from China selling into us. And so,
you know, determining the best enforcement actions and who to go after, I think is really important to people, I really believe in this concept of brand control versus brand protection, and what's the difference, and I look
to me, like the brand protection category, it's like, it almost be like, if I wanted to stop everybody in the law firm, in our firm from ever saying a bad word about me, now go around and try to monitor and lack each one and stop it. You know, control is worrying more about what's impacting you the brand, how do I control my own brand for success, it's like, the analogy I use, it'd be like me, trying to stop the people that are saying that really impact my career, because and I think in this brand protection world, like there's just no way that the world people are going to go out and monitor and stop everything that's going on on the internet. I think brands have to look at what's going to impact their business, and what's going to impact their sales, what's gonna impact their margin, what's gonna impact their growth.
And I think, really use the data to measure that figure out what's doing it and then have a comprehensive solution that works versus just a tool to show activity. And so I believe it's read. I mean, we meet with heads of brand protection for the largest companies in the world. And once we sort of show them that they're like, Wow, you're right, like,
Aaron Conant 51:52
I've been going after all these people. That is great. I said, I got rid of a counterfeiter. I did this, but I didn't really have any impact for my team. And now that E commerce is bigger deal, you know, I think this this, this world, this, this category needs to evolve and that we're really leading the way in that and, and helping understand the key metrics that the brands need to focus on in this space. So I don't have anything else really Aaron. I mean, unless you have any else for me, I really appreciate you having me on. No, no, I was it. Fantastic. I think we're gonna wrap up here right on time with four minutes ago. Again, thanks. We mean such great friends and partners, supporters and network as a whole thanks to everybody who joined in the great questions that came over the profile email from us, and 100% we're putting some time on the calendar with Whitney and the team already control. They're helping a ton of brands out across the network as a whole, but that we're gonna wrap it up the profile female from us, we'd love to have a conversation with you as well. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any pain points or need any connections. With that. Everybody have a fantastic Tuesday. Have a great rest of the week. Everybody, take care, stay safe and look forward to having you in a future event. All right, thanks again, everybody. We'll be in touch