In a recent webinar hosted by Edge by Ascential, Whitney Gibson, leader of Vorys eControl, joined executives from two major brands to discuss controlling online sales in a session titled “Selling on Amazon: The Inside Story.”
With Robin Gabel, National Account Manager at Yogi Tea, and Denise Hampton-Zmuda, Senior Director for Global Brand, Content and Campaign Strategy at Zebra Technologies, Gibson discussed the Vorys eControl process for controlling online sales and how it worked – and continues to work – for both brands.
All three speakers agreed that the most important step a brand can take to gain control of its online sales is to implement an integrated and comprehensive strategy, involving comprehensive monitoring, investigations, and legal enforcement; grey market control; authorized reseller policies; and appropriate pricing policies.
Gibson walked listeners through the key steps to implementing this comprehensive approach, beginning by encouraging brands to think about their existing distribution strategy on online marketplaces.
Second, Gibson emphasized that brands have to implement policies for their authorized resellers to follow, placing certain limitations on how and where they can sell products in an authorized manner, as well as requiring them to abide by established quality controls.
Third, Gibson explained that brands need to understand the law surrounding unauthorized sales and the legal bases that allow brands to overcome the first sale doctrine and stop unauthorized sellers.
Finally, Gibson urged brands to enforce the quality controls and authorized reseller policies they implement. This process includes finding illegitimate sellers, identifying them, cutting off their sources of product when possible (including revoking the authorized status of a violating authorized seller), sending cease-and-desist letters, draft complaints drafting complaints, and, where necessary, taking further escalated legal action.
According to Gabel, this integrated approach worked for Yogi Tea, which saw its unauthorized product listings decrease 60% within ten months of implementation. She emphasized the importance of maintaining continuous dialog with partners and authorized sellers throughout the process of executing an integrated strategy.
Hampton-Zmuda explained that prior to working with Vorys eControl, Zebra experienced channel conflict and frustration from high-quality authorized sellers that were being disadvantaged by low-quality unauthorized sellers. For Zebra, one of the most critical aspects of the new approach was involving key internal stakeholders in the process. She explained that by doing so, the brand was able to maintain internal alignment throughout the process of evolving its policies and distribution strategies to meet the challenges of the e-commerce age.