As online retail outlets proliferate, many manufacturers find themselves at a technology disadvantage when it comes to keeping tabs on the prices of their products, not to mention spotting gray market and counterfeit goods. Assigning a couple people to look at sites likely is insufficient to keep up with dynamic pricing changes.
Channel IQ helps manufacturers, retailers and distributors keep on top of pricing activity by providing real-time online pricing intelligence. The Chicago-based company uses a combination of software and services to monitor the prices being offered by thousands of retailers on Amazon, eBay, product comparison sites and individual retail sites. The company can check if, for example, retailers are violating minimum- advertised-price policies. Channel IQ also can check retail prices for competitors' products to help manufacturers and retailers adjust sales prices when warranted.
Along with helping set prices, the company can help spot counterfeit goods. That's a huge problem. Last November, agents from the Justice Department and Homeland Security closed 82 websites involved in selling counterfeit goods. In 2010, government agents seized fake goods totalling $188.1 million, which if genuine would have been worth $1.4 billion. Goods from China accounted for 66% of the value of the seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The outsourcing of manufacturing to China, in combination with more online selling, introduced the specter of counterfeiting as a much more serious problem, notes Wes Shepherd, CEO of Channel IQ. He says many manufacturers were slow to recognize the threat and respond with policies, procedures and use of services such as his to combat counterfeit goods.
Channel IQ helps combat counterfeiting by taking products from a manufacturer's catalog that are susceptible to counterfeiting, matching SKUs against each web page and looking for key attributes, says Shepherd. We can filter against their catalog and, for example, show all the listings in North America that are below the landed costs on the West Coast, Shepherd explains. From perhaps 10,000 listings, the software uses data points associated with counterfeiting to produce a suspect list of 100. Of those 100 instances, 80 may actually be counterfeit. Armed with this data, companies can act to close counterfeit sites.
• Moving to Plan B