Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Long Does It Take to Get Started With Brand Monitoring & Protection?
Brand Alignment will have a data monitoring dashboard populated within 24-48 hours from the time the contract is signed. Enforcement services can start as soon as the client is ready and after completing the necessary documentation and strategy outlines with the client. Typically we begin enforcement services within the first week.
How Do Brand Protection Services Work?
At Brand Alignment, our base service is access to our proprietary user platform that organizes data from every product currently being sold online, with detailed information about who is selling. Beyond just great data, clients should also expect a full repertoire of managed enforcement services that have proven results to driving the success of our solution!
I Have More of a Counterfeit Problem Than a Grey Market Problem. Can You Help?
Yes, of course! While our specialty is grey market sales, our services are very effective in fighting counterfeits and knockoffs as well. However, rather than focusing our efforts on counterfeits from sites like Ali-baba which have low visibility. We focus our energy fighting "Sub-Par" goods that are being passed off as new on Amazon, Walmart and other large marketplaces who consumers trust.
Do You Work With Third Party Vendors or Only Directly With Brands?
We work either directly with brands, or with an authorized brand management agency or law firm who then assumes the role of project manager. However, for transparency reasons, we do require the Brand to sign off on our contract before we begin services.
What Are Your Unauthorized Seller Removal Rates on Amazon and Other Major Marketplaces?
For Brands that we have been engaged in services with us for more than 2 months; we historically hover around 88%-90% removal of unauthorized listings on Amazon and 80%-85% on Walmart and Newegg. For first party websites like Rakuten, Bonanza and Wish we usually have 95%-100% successful unauthorized removal rates on. However, the success of each solution is highly dependent on the industry type, sales discounting practices, distribution policies and manufacturing process for each Brand.
I Have a Grey Market Problem That Extends Outside of the US. Does Brand Alignment Have Services For That?
We have extensive experience investigating international grey market trade and intricate product diversion schemes. One of our proudest achievements as a company was uncovering a $800 million dollar global distributor selling sideways to exporters who were diverting product overseas back into the USA. If this is something you are dealing with, We already have information on many of the largest global diversion schemes and just might already have information that can help your Brand.
Why Is It Important to Include Grey Market Sales in Your Brand Protection Efforts?
Typically when Brands think about Brand Protection, the first thing that comes to mind is protection against counterfeits. However, grey market products are quickly becoming a larger problem for today's online brands because they have infiltrated top consumer markets and are being purchased as new. When a consumer has an issue with a Grey Market product they purchased on Amazon, do they blame the unauthorized 3rd party seller? No, instead they place the blame on the brand which exponentiates the negative impact this illegitimate sale has had on the brand. Your authorized channel must be supported, and protected from having to compete against these unauthorized sales.
How Long Does It Typically Take To Start Seeing Benefits/Results From Your Services?
We develop a strategy that pairs with our proposal, typically we see the strategy that we present take hold in 1-2 months. On the other hand in certain industries with the right situation, some of our Brands have seen major results in as little as two weeks from the start of services.
What Industries Does Brand Alignment Typically Work With?
Our services can be universally applied to any industry because they are based on individual polices from the top online marketplaces where consumers go to buy goods. We have proven results and strategies built out for Consumer Electronics, Apparel, Health/Cosmetics, Pet and Industrial Supply. If you don't fall into any of these categories, that's just because we don't work with you yet!
How Do I Typically Interact with Your Brand Alignment?
Any client who does business with Brand Alignment is treated as if they are our only Client. We take our role in your organizations success very seriously and we hold ourselves to the highest standard or customer service. Expect a dedicated representative who follows your Brands progress and stays up on all current affairs. Beyond that, every client will be given personal access to our online based platform which allows users to track not only Data but the progress of our enforcement services and the success of the overall program.
What Is My Expected ROI for Your Services?
Based on feedback from Brands who truly need our services, we have been told that the ROI from our services is in the ballpark of 500%-1500% of our monthly fee. Of course, this will differ with every Brand based on a number of different variables.
How Do I Remove Unauthorized Sellers From Amazon
Unauthorized sellers are removed from Amazon via a mix of prevention, monitoring, and enforcement techniques utilized in accordance with legal rights and website policy. First, identify the unauthorized sellers in question. Second, send multiple cease & desist letters directly to the seller warning them of potential trademark infringement. Third, investigate the seller and his supply chain to prevent future inventory purchases.
Can You Enforce MAP Pricing on Amazon?
If you want to enforce MAP by contacting Amazon and asking for a removal, then no, you cannot. Amazon's policy is to let manufacturers deal with third-party sellers on their own. The only way to effectively enforce MAP on Amazon (see map pricing Amazon) is via a mix of prevention, monitoring, and enforcement techniques including cease & desist letters, investigation, test buying, serial number tracing, and much more.
How to Report an Unauthorized Seller on Amazon?
Unauthorized sellers can be reported to Amazon via the Brand Registry portal, the infringement page, or through contact forms or live chat as a buyer. It is important to keep in mind that Amazon will only remove the seller themselves if the item is counterfeit, a copyright or trademark infringement, or violates an Amazon selling policy (not as described, wrong expiration format, etc.) Grey market sellers must be enforced using prevention, monitoring, and grey market enforcement techniques.
How to Enforce a MAP Policy?
In order to enforce a MAP policy, brands must have a legally crafted distribution agreement that is signed by all authorized sales channels. This agreement must contain clear wording that pertains to all authorized resellers complying with MAP and UPP pricing or else they may lose selling privileges. Many brands include aggressive verbiage that specifies large financial penalties if an authorized reseller violates MAP or resells the product online or in certain online marketplaces without permission.
Does Amazon Allow Unauthorized Sellers
Unless your specific brand is Brand Gated, then Amazon will allow any third-party seller on your listing as long as the product is authentic, matches the listing description exactly, and that seller is authorized to sell in that category. Amazon has a strict policy of non-interference in regards to manufacturers and distribution policies regarding MAP pricing and unauthorized sales channels. Amazon will only get involved if the unauthorized seller is proven to be selling counterfeit items, violating copyright or trademarks, or violating Amazon marketplace policies.
What Is a Map Violation on Amazon?
A MAP or UPP violation on Amazon is any listing sold by a 1st or 3rd party that is offered at below the manufacturer's MAP or UPP price. The important thing to remember is that Amazon does not get involved in MAP or UPP pricing disputes between manufacturers and resellers. Brands that would like to enforce their MAP or UPP policies should look into MAP monitoring and MAP enforcement solutions to clean up their marketplace.
How to Check the MAP Price on Amazon?
Currently, Amazon does not allow visitors to check the MAP price. Amazon has a strict non-interference policy between manufacturers and resellers and will not enforce on any MAP or UPP pricing violations. Often times you can guess the MAP price by looking at the Vendor Central price which is usually MAP compliant or examining what price multiple sellers are priced at even though there are offers below that price. Most MAP prices end in the following: .00, .49, .50, .95, .99
How to Get Brand Gated on Amazon
There is currently no sure-fire way to get your brand Brand Gated on Amazon. There are many billion dollar brands which are not Brand Gated despite many relentless attempts to do so. The best thing you can do to put your brand in a position to be Brand Gated is to register for Brand Registry and keep a strong approval percentage when filing trademark or copyright infringement complaints. If you are looking for immediate action, we recommend MAP monitoring and MAP enforcement solutions to clean up your marketplace.
Can You Legally Enforce a MAP Policy on Amazon?
Amazon will not legally enforce a MAP policy on their platform. They have a strict non-interference policy regarding manufacturers and reseller distribution agreements. If your distribution agreement has strong verbiage forbidding violation of MAP policy, then you can legally pursue a seller violating MAP on Amazon that has signed your distribution agreement.
What Is the Grey Market and Where Do They Get the Product From?
Grey market goods are authentic products that are being sold through unauthorized channels, as determined by the manufacturer. Grey market products are acquired by grey market sellers through many means including directly from the manufacturer, through distributors, wholesalers, retailers, arbitrage, parallel imports, theft, and more.
How to Remove Unauthorized Sellers From eBay?
The fastest way to remove listings from eBay is through the VERO program. However, you cannot remove any listing you want, there must be a copyright or trademark infringement on the listing. This can mean an image, logo, sales copy or other form of copyright was reproduced without permission. For authentic grey market product, we recommend sending cease & desist letters through the eBay messaging system. This can be time-consuming when done manually, but very effective.
What Are the Ways Manufacturers Can Shut Down Unauthorized Resellers?
Brand Alignment recommends a combination of prevention, monitoring, enforcement, and investigation for manufacturers looking to shut down unauthorized resellers. Prevention including creating Do Not Sell lists and strong distribution agreements. Monitoring includes internet-wide price checks and inventory counts to recognize the problem areas. Enforcement includes electronic and physical cease & desist letters and Brand Registry complaints when necessary. Investigation includes identification of sellers, identification of product sourcing, test buying, and serial number tracing.
How to Enforce Map Pricing on Amazon
Since Amazon has a strong non-interference policy in regards to manufacturers and reseller distribution agreements, the most efficient way to enforce MAP pricing is via a combination of prevention, monitoring, enforcement, and investigation. Keeping a close eye on violators and their inventory stock in order to prioritize enforcement, cease & desist letters, Brand Registry complaints, test buys, serial number tracing, and identification of sellers and the source of their product.
How to Sell on Amazon With MAP Pricing?
Amazon does not help you enforce MAP pricing. They believe that is something that should be handled only between manufacturers and resellers. We recommend legally crafting strong distribution agreements that forbid resellers violating the MAP or UPP price. Once this is setup, we recommend a MAP Monitoring solution to keep an eye on your resellers and notify them every time they violate MAP or UPP on a product.
Average Cost to Enforce MAP Pricing?
Since solutions in brand protection vary so much in terms of number of products and types of services (monitoring, enforcement, investigation, etc.) it is difficult to estimate a cost without more information about a specific brand's situation. In general, the most basic form of MAP monitoring starts at $99/mo and can reach into $1,000+/mo. depending on many factors. Enforcement starts around $250/mo. and can stretch into $5,000+/mo. Investigation starts around $500/mo. and can easily go to $10,000+/mo. depending on the amount of work required.
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