Unauthorized online seller enforcement
While making additional sales from any channel can seem positive on the surface, in reality, unauthorized sellers can range from a small annoyance to a big problem for your brand.
Why you need to stop unauthorized sellers ASAP
Rogue sellers who have not signed any dealer agreement with you are a threat to your brand’s integrity and a danger to your trusted retailers. They dilute your sales channels, especially on marketplace platforms like Amazon where a vast majority of transactions are conducted by the winner of the buy box. Why have dozens of sellers offering your products when consumers will only interact with a select few? The temptation to drop prices to compete for the buy box is strong. Trusted dealers have more at stake when it comes to abiding by MAP, but unauthorized sellers can start price wars that cut into traditional retailers’ margins — and yours. Here’s how you can stop those sellers.
How to perform unauthorized sales monitoring
You can’t fight these sellers if you don’t know about them. A price monitoring tool such as PriceSpider’s PROWL gives brands the full picture of just how many sellers offer your products and where. Strong price monitoring scans the internet the way a consumer might and does so frequently to catch pricing games and determine who moved first, even on nights and weekends. Once up and running, you’ll be ready for the next step: unauthorized online seller enforcement.
Sending cease-and-desist letters to unauthorized dealers
The legal reasons for taking action against unauthorized sellers include claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, trademark dilution, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and tortious interference with contract. When rogue sellers list your products outside the network of your authorized dealers, warranties and customer support are often void, which is deceptive and confusing for consumers, giving you the legal edge.
This opens up your opportunity to send cease-and-desist letters, which should always be written by your legal counsel. It’s best to consult with antitrust attorneys on this aspect of seller enforcement rather than your in-house legal team, as they will have more specialized knowledge. Start with the largest, most disruptive sellers and then make your way down to the smaller ones.
Tightening distribution channels to stop unauthorized online sellers for good
While in the midst of solving your rogue seller problem, look into where these unauthorized retailers are getting their supply. Trace their products back to their distributor by examining their location and narrowing down which wholesalers you have in that area. You’ll need to have some hard conversations with distributors around this issue. Make it clear that they cannot sell product to retailers who are not on your authorized seller list. If distributors continue to contribute to the problem, you’ll need to stop doing business with them and find others who will work with you on your terms.
Sticking with your strategy to stop unauthorized sellers
Unfortunately, dealing with unauthorized sellers and MAP violations is not a one-and-done project. It’s an ongoing part of your brand protection program. To set yourself up for success, start from the beginning: go back and examine your authorized dealer agreements. You might want to make updates that include newer advertising options, such as add-to-cart pricing, in-store pickup deals, and subscription service discounts. Then be vigilant.
Make sure someone at your brand owns the MAP monitoring and enforcement process, whether it’s a full-time brand protection specialist or a sales manager who carves out time from other responsibilities. Finally, partner with the best in service for MAP monitoring, enforcement, and unknown seller discovery, so you can stay on top of all those violations and rogue sellers that pop up.
Ready to get started? Schedule a demo to see how PROWL automates MAP monitoring and stops unauthorized sellers.