Citadines Group Case Study: Manhead Merch

Online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy enable brands to sell their products to new customers across the world. However the problem merchandisers face is that third party sellers can counterfeit their products. It’s a critical problem to merchandisers because they spend significant amounts of money on branding and marketing but do not earn the returns.

Manhead Merch retained Citadines Group to solve this problem. Citadines Group set a strategy and developed software that mitigated the client’s lost revenue and ultimately increased it after replacing the counterfeit merchandise.

THE CLIENT

Manhead Merch is a worldwide, full-service merchandise company, catering to the music and entertainment industry. The company offers superior design capabilities with uncompromised boutique-level service.

Manhead earns revenue from licensing their merchandise. When Manhead’s Founder and CEO saw assets being sold on marketplaces like Amazon he saw lost revenue. Manhead Merch retained Citadines Group to develop a strategy and software to solve this problem profitably and effectively.

PRODUCT STRATEGY

Citadines Group serves a strategic partner to its clients. We start by understanding the problem that needs to be solved and then develop a strategy for using technology to solve it in the most effective manner.

In this case, we started by understanding the process needed to have a counterfeit product removed from a marketplace. Per marketplace terms and conditions, if you submit a claim that a product is counterfeit, the marketplace will remove it.

In order to submit a claim, the client must first monitor all marketplaces and identify the counterfeit merchandise. The marketplaces could be monitored and the claims could be submitted by a team of employees, however this would be extremely cost intensive. In order to maximize return on investment (ROI), Citadines Group identified opportunities to use technology to automate the process and developed it with a user friendly interface.

ITERATIVE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT TO MAXIMIZE ROI

To maximize the client’s ROI, we experimented with solutions before comprehensive and cost intensive development took place. This informed the critical bottlenecks that the technology would need to solve for.

Initially, we leveraged the APIs of Etsy, eBay, Amazon and Redbubble to monitor the frequency of bootleg Merch being posted. This gave us data to determine how intensive our technology would need to be.

The results of the experiment determined that we would need to focus less on constant monitoring and more on reporting and submitting claims. Because reporting and submitting claims was the bottleneck, developing technology to solve for this problem provided greater returns for the client.

In addition, we found that even after a product was removed from one seller’s account, it could be listed again from a new seller account. As a result, we developed a solution that focused on individual Manhead Merch products, rather than on seller accounts.

By understanding the client’s business objectives, Citadines Group created the best possible solution to the problem at hand.

SCALABLE TECHNOLOGY WITH USER EXPERIENCE TOP OF MIND

Screen scraping entails retrieving specific information requested from web pages in an automated and scalable manner. We developed a screen scraper capable of finding and returning search results of specific bands the client represents.

The client simply enters the name of the band and the marketplaces to check. Our software then reports the findings through a user friendly interface where the client can determine which merchandise is counterfeit.

By developing a solution that can analyze marketplace web pages and identify relevant designs, the client gains an unlimited potential volume of reports with minimal effort.

COST SAVINGS THROUGH AUTOMATION

In order to ensure that the counterfeit products are removed from marketplaces, Manhead Merch must submit a claim to each marketplace for each respective product. However, this would take countless hours of manual labor. In order to minimize cost for the client, Citadines Group developed a technology that makes submitting a claim as easy as a click of a button.

REPORTING

After viewing a report, the client can quickly and easily send a notice to their legal counsel.

Beyond simply scraping and reporting, the solution enables our client to track the effectiveness of the claims as well as how much money has been salvaged.

Monitoring the marketplaces, recording and reporting counterfeit products, and requesting claims for each would have been a full-time responsibility for a small team. However with our scalable and user-friendly technology, the client was able to have thousands of products removed at a fraction of what it would have cost without the software.

OUTCOMES

Manhead Merch came to Citadines Group with a business problem. Citadines Group developed a strategy and software to solve it in a profitable and scalable way. We developed technology to analyze large data sets and intelligently identify counterfeit merchandise of Manhead represented bands. In addition, we implemented a user experience that makes it easier for the client make decisions and act quickly. Ultimately, lost sales were mitigated and revenue was increased after replacing the counterfeit merchandize with owned merchandise.