Andrew Schydlowsky is the Founder and CEO of TrackStreet, the leading platform for Internet brand protection, channel management, and optimization. A serial entrepreneur, Andrew has founded several other internet-related companies prior to TrackStreet, including Sticky Technology and Performance Unlimited. He has also served as the Chief Growth Officer for a chain of retail stores and the Project Coordinator at BIDE, an economic consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
In 2008, Andrew received the Pacific Coast Business Times 40 Under 40 Award.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Andrew Schydlowsky talks about how brands have evolved the way they use online channels over the last 20 years
- TrackStreet’s approach to helping brands sell products online
- Common distribution mistakes brands make when creating an online presence
- How TrackStreet helps brands address unauthorized seller activities and price disparities across different online channels
- Andrew’s advice to brands on how to become more consistent and transparent online
- What brands can do to reward their partners who are creating consistent branding for their products
- The strategic ways brands have transitioned to more stable and profitable branding and pricing situations
- How Andrew helps brands create clean channels
- Andrew’s experience in the e-commerce industry and the mentors and advice that have helped him along the way
In this episode…
Some of the most common challenges that brands face when selling online include dealing with unauthorized sellers and price disparities across different e-commerce channels. Not only do these issues have a negative impact on a business’ branding, but they also lead to inconsistencies in pricing and customer experience.
To help solve these challenges, Andrew Schydlowsky and his team at TrackStreet developed a system that helps sellers track unauthorized sellers, visualize price trends over time, and identify who is violating their policies. With this information, brands can create cleaner channels that customers love.
In today’s episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast, host James Thomson is joined by Andrew Schydlowsky, the Founder and CEO of TrackStreet, to talk about the common distribution challenges that brands face when selling online. Andrew shares workable strategies for creating stable and consistent branding, reducing price disparities, and building stronger customer relationships. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Buy Box Experts
- Controlling Your Brand in the Age of Amazon by James Thomson and Whitney Gibson
- Prosper Show
- Andrew Schydlowsky on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.
The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.
Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.
Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.
James Thomson 0:18
Hi, I’m James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts podcast. I’m a partner with Buy Box Experts and formerly the business head for the selling on Amazon team at Amazon, as well as the first account manager for the Fulfillment by Amazon program. I’m co-author of the book “Controlling your Brand in the Age of Amazon”, and co-founder of the Prosper Show, one of the largest continuing education conferences for Amazon sellers in North America. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts makes ambitious brands actionable and unbeatable. When you hire Buy Box Experts, you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon. Go to buyboxexperts.com to learn more.
Today our guest is Andrew Schydlowsky, CEO and Founder of TrackStreet. A firm that monitors what’s happening with brands across the internet and delivers actionable market data so brand teams can focus on building strong customer relationships, driving sales and building the bottom line. A serial entrepreneur, Andrew founded several other internet related companies before track St. Andrew brings his nearly 25 years of e-commerce experience to us today, sharing best practices on how brands can track what is happening to their products and branding online. So welcome, Andrew. And thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts podcast.
Andrew Schydlowsky 1:39
Hi, James, really great to be here. Thanks for having me.
James Thomson 1:42
Andrew, I want to start our discussion today by getting your thoughts on how you’ve seen brands evolve the way that they deal with online channels over the past 20 years.
Andrew Schydlowsky 1:51
That’s a great question, James. You know, I started my career selling my own brand online direct to consumers. So really kind of the dawn of e-commerce and I know you go back a long time as well. And there’s just been this evolution. You know, I myself was an e-commerce seller on every channel over the years and moved lots of volume and every channel you can imagine, you know, and I remember there’s a time when I felt like there’s this little upstart named Amazon that came into my space. Now, I felt like I was pounding my fist at the sky, not really knowing what I was screaming about. But you know, there’s this real evolution that I saw, particularly when I was a top seller for many brands. And for a long time, they kind of ignored the internet, they were very retail focused, and then the conversation became, hey, so this internet thing is really disrupting what we’re doing. You guys don’t have any overhead my mile of course, ignoring my huge facility and people running around, but hey, you know, our stores are complaining a little bit. We need to fix, you know, fix this, but they don’t really understand what they need to fix or how to fix it. And so they would kind of choose the person who has the largest flag flying and the case was made. Sometimes they say, Hey, we want you to fix this, but not really understanding that if one person made a change and really matters, because were you in retail, you’re taking 15 minutes to drive from store to store online, takes you seconds to go find another vendor. So it doesn’t feel like this has been this evolution of understanding. So, you know, this is like the early days before maps were real. And people were trying to find different ways putting pressure on their partners to start conforming. And then the conversation started changing and they started understanding that I have certain conversations, okay, the internet most likely isn’t going to go away. So how about thinking about what it could do for you, and guess what it could do what it’s doing to you. And this has been an evolution. So people have gotten more sophisticated and understand more and have started to learn about the possibilities in the internet and incredible marketing machines, right. So the ability to get real time feedback into what you’re doing right and wrong. And driving sales through sales is just incredible. It’s just an incredibly powerful tool if you use it, and people are starting to get it, so they’ve gone from ignoring it, to hoping it would go away, right? begrudgingly accepting it. And now start understanding how to harness it. And that’s where people like you come in, we come in is how do you harness these channels, so that they work in context of your larger sales strategies. And that you own your channels drive acceleration through them in a way that makes a flywheel because they can always just support each other, but they’re just starting to get there.
James Thomson 4:31
So you talked about what the internet does to you versus what you can do with the internet. We’ll talk a lot more about that in our discussion coming up here. But I would argue that there are still a lot of brands that haven’t figured out that the internet is here to stay and they better integrate some aspect of e-commerce into their overall channel management strategy. I’m just amazed by brands that are doing 10s of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars that are still so retailer focused and essentially digging a hole for themselves that will take time to get out of. So let’s let’s transition and you know, let’s talk for a few minutes about TrackStreet. What does your firm do? What approach Do you take to helping brands with map violations? What do you think about unauthorized sellers? What is your philosophy on all of this?
Andrew Schydlowsky 5:18
So for us, it really comes down to the basics. You know, we begin by giving our partners control over how their products are sold. It’s really about regaining control. And there are three phases of how we can talk to people about internet commerce, multi-channel commerce, and it’s really about protecting, assessing and growing. And each of those pieces has some steps within it. But it’s really for us about the basics. Now let’s make sure the right people are touching your product at the right time. Maybe at the right price points, and to know what’s happening really at the point of sale and always so it’s kind of like thinking about what would you What would you want to have happen in the retail world when you’re walking down the aisles here products, what’s there. So a lot of people, a lot of brands think about the retail world, they’ve got great controls in place. But it’s really time to think about digital shelves. So taking what you might want to do in the retail world, but applying it online, it’s actually tremendously much easier online, putting controls in place, but for us, our protect processes not knowing who’s touching your product and where but really ensuring that where it’s being sold your maximize your opportunity to sell, and that could be making sure the images are right, the content is right. Making sure that if someone’s screaming out your product, having an issue next to penicillin in terms of a review that you’re addressing it really easy stuff. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit there. But that’s really where we start, regaining visibility and then control over the channel. And for us, the key to that is not just information but action. How do you go to sleep at night and make sure that computers and systems do things for you so you come to work in the morning and you’re empowered to do what you’re hired to do which is make an impact on your market and not push buttons?
James Thomson 6:59
So first To realistically be in a position that they’re thinking about using your service, what are some of the questions they have to have already worked through in their mind? Or priorities they’ve already evaluated and said, We need to do something here. Yeah.
Andrew Schydlowsky 7:12
So you’re the first they’ve had, they’ve had to make a decision, that internet is not going to go away, that they got to meet it head on, and that you can’t rely upon your resellers to do your job for you. And what it really comes down to is relationships. And this is really about making a commitment to support your reseller network across channels. And the first step is really committing to say, you know what, we are going to meet this internet issue head on, we’re going to get regain control of it and then empower our partners and so thinking about the world of a pie, so we’ve got a pie in front of us, the pie is so big. Now I want to let people just take out their fork and start eating from it. And everybody said Go forth and make as little bites as always people chew into the pie? Or do we want people to help us make more pie? So we kind of reframed the conversation of, you know, who are your partners? Are they added value? And how do you support them so they can help you make more pie. That’s really the first step for us is meeting brands, when they’re ready to make some decisions on them are hard, but putting a structure in place, but we do what we know. When you take control back, put a plan in place and then stick to it. You’re consistent, that Marcus responds really well, your partners come into play, and you do see that sales expand. And so it’s really consistent though but first I was making a decision that you’re going to actively pursue fitness.
James Thomson 8:42
Okay, so I’m a brand. I’ve decided that, for better or worse. I’ve got to have a presence online. Talk to me about some of the big distribution challenges you’ve seen brands encounter when they first dip their toe in the water and say, Okay, I need to have an online strategy. What are the bad actions they’re taking whatever The bad non actions they’re taking. What are you seeing through the brands that you’re exposed to?
Andrew Schydlowsky 9:06
Yeah, so the first thing I think that people start doing is they start looking at the Internet. And they heard about this thing called map. And they say, you know, we need a map.
James Thomson 9:16
Andrew Schydlowsky 9:17
Because people are doing it. And people want to ask us if we have one. So yeah, we’re gonna have one and they go Google something, they pull it down. And usually it’s GoPros map policy or something along those lines, that great SEO and they put that in place. So first, they select a policy that’s not really there’s it doesn’t fit with their business strategies, and then they put it into the market. But the problem with a policy that isn’t one isn’t yours and you haven’t truly committed to is that you’re now something you said you’re gonna have enforced, you have no way to do it. There’s really nothing worse and so you’re gonna do something and not follow through. So you’re really, really doing a burning trust of all your partners and so what we see is all A lot of times people come to us when they’re done all this stuff committed to things that they can, they can’t really follow through on and everybody’s upset with them and things are freefall. So it’s really about if you are going to retrain your market, and you’re gonna make a statement that your partners matter, your brand value is paramount. And you’re putting a structure in place. And so resale policies wherever you map up an authorized dealer program, resale distribution policies are all a foundation on which your entire sales program isn’t built. So like building a house, if you build it on sand, it’s gonna crumble. it is really critical that there is a policy set of policies in place that foundationally sets you up for success later, that you have legal guidance, gets firm, enforced consistently and proactive. Definitely. You don’t want Want to choose and pick and choose who you call and prevent forgetting who you don’t and wishy washy on it has to be unilateral keeps us out of trouble. But this is kind of their first step. So there’s reasons why you might want a map, or you might want an authorized dealer program. But the whole goal of all of this is to give you the power to make decisions for the best of your brand, and to best support your resale partners who are going to help you make more pie.
James Thomson 11:29
So let’s let’s talk for a minute about the partners that are going to help you make more pie on the Amazon channel. Typically, we deal with two types of sellers, the authorized sellers and the unauthorized sellers. on Amazon. There are a lot of unauthorized sellers. And quite frankly, there’s a lot of incentive for new unauthorized sellers to pile on. Much of the benefit of these pricing policies that have been put in place for authorized sellers. Only look at the authorized seller portion. And so for all that, download it Have a map policy on Google that a brand has done. They don’t yet have a strategy for dealing with unauthorized sellers. Tell me a little bit more about how you help your clients think about migrating from focusing exclusively on the authorized seller activity to addressing the unauthorized seller activity.
Andrew Schydlowsky 12:19
So it’s a great question. And the challenge is, when a brand sells a product, it goes out the door. This product shows up in all sorts of the craziest places you kind of know that the oftentimes you think you’re selling to, isn’t it you’re selling to because they’re selling to their friends, their cousin, their sub distributing it without proper controls, proxies of all the wrong places, including liquidation channels more. In your book that you wrote with Whitney Whitney Gibson does a great job of detailing some of the craziness that happens, right. So there’s some great case studies in there to talk about where product ends up and how to mitigate some of these challenges. But without a Map program and a map policy. You’re right, you’re right, you can you can kind of control to some level pricing, but really for the people, you know, and so if people are popping up on Amazon or other places that you don’t know, they’re unknown to either, they’re just somehow got product of yours, right do a whole lot, you got to yell and scream at them. So what we will do if you even know how to reach out to them, if you do, right, and that’s where having a database meal that investigated people ours is critical. I mean, that’s where companies like Excel, we have an investigation team. We average 335 new seller identities uncovered a day. So we have an in-house team that excels in this with a private investigator-led background. Yes. Yeah, you have to know who people are. There’s no question. But at its core, you’ll be able to differentiate the Go app from unauthorized sellers. goes back to what kind of foundation you have legally. And this is where your foundational documents Matter and are able to be a difference between an authorized and unauthorized seller. Even if the product looks the same, there’s actually a difference based on who they are and how they obtain the product is critical. And so really we want to do is preserve rights for the brand so that we have a function in place. If the seller is unknown or non offensive on a whitelist, as an authorized to sell where they’re selling their remedies available to them, based upon there being differences in the product, as they’re called material differences, might you want to talk a little bit about right, but essentially, these two products look the same, but actually behave differently when a consumer has them in their hand, because that’s based upon that you can go after them in our systems, what we do is essentially, we have essentially like a workflow diagram that based upon who they are, and where they are, our systems can action, the reach out and next steps with this incredible database. But more than that, while our clients sleep, our systems are then reaching out based upon the diagram that may be sketched out in an app. Or their lawyer gave them every part of the way and will take appropriate action to elevate the key of learning them through a workflow. The goal is that one time people don’t know if you have a program in place, if they’re a liquidator, they might not know how they got your product. It’s informing them what they’re doing is wrong. So he has to remedy a situation that really quickly separates the camp who was testing you who didn’t know who was intentional. And as I’m moving down the intentional path, you actually have remedies to get the product back with a mobile marketplace, take other actions, but you’ll have different teeth and avoid chewing depending upon who they are and where they are. But it’s critical that you have that foundation in place. So you can treat unauthorized unauthorized differently, and use some kind of automated way to share how these people filter and separate moving through a process.
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