ORGANIZED RETAIL CRIME: We Stalk Sticky Fingers
Updated: May 22, 2022
“The Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, a trade association, estimates that organized retail theft accounts for around $45 billion in annual losses for retailers”—WSJ
It’s a little early for Christmas movies, but the opening scene of the WSJ’s recent article on Organized Retail Crime had us thinking of the Stinky Bandits. Less cute than our childhood nostalgia was our team’s jaws collectively dropping over the sheer volume of monetary loss that stores are facing due to theft (It’s important to note here that the FBI estimated organized retail crime at $30 billion only a decade ago). Even more astonishing (maybe not surprising, but nonetheless disappointing) to us is that these retail giants are facing the same problems our brand partners deal with every day in trying to protect their products online—Amazon’s complete lack of responsibility or assistance handling rogue resellers and the removal of unauthorized listings. As this issue has ballooned throughout the pandemic (to the tune of 30% for CVS alone), it seems that Amazon is set to enjoy a lot of fraudulent profit in the name of “fair competition” unless the law steps in and/or services like ours are able to help bring transparency back to the game of eCommerce selling.
HOW WE CAN HELP
While we don’t typically focus on the arena of theft when discussing unauthorized sellers, our software most definitely has capabilities that lend themselves to arming brands with the vital information needed to protect their stolen products from being sold online.
Database of Seller Information - While Amazon has to be forced through cumbersome legal processes to share seller data, we provide a database of over 500,000 resellers and their complete contact record. While the eCommerce marketplace did make reseller’s business information publicly available, they notified resellers before making this change which gave sketchy sellers the opportunity to alter their information before publication. In good news for brands, we provide the seller’s original— and more accurate— information along with all changes that have been made over time.
Monitor ASINs - We routinely monitor product ASINS for unauthorized sellers, and in conjunction with a brand’s serialization programs, can use this information to find Amazon sellers hawking stolen goods.
A few of our partners have already taken advantage of these anti-theft capabilities:
A major tech-related partner was able to track the source of product sold on Amazon to a large theft from BestBuy. Through our software and monitoring services, we were able to identify and track the online vendors who were selling the stolen products, and the brand was able to prove through test-buys that the serial numbers bought on the eCommerce site matched stolen serial numbers. The company was then able to pursue multiple lawsuits against the thieves and win.
Through our investigation and enforcement for another brand’s products, we were able to glean the valuable knowledge that a distribution leak was in fact a warehouse worker stealing goods and providing them to unknowing Amazon sellers.
While we are not an encompassing solution to solve or end the sale of stolen goods online, we would like for stores and brands to know that they have alternative ways of managing this colossal problem than fighting with Amazon to obtain the valuable and necessary information needed to move forward in investigative or legal pursuits.
Please reach out to our team if your store or brand is facing these challenges—we provide a free consultative call and would love to help your team find a solution to help with your reseller problems, theft-related or otherwise. (We digress, but might suggest that surveillance and theft units could also benefit from hiring Kevin McCallister 👀).
If you’re looking for more reading on this topic we suggest the WSJ article linked above, as well as:
This piece goes deep into how these crime groups function as well as discusses inventive solutions retailers are developing to help thwart thieves.
Ecommerce fraud is a multi-faceted beast and this blog post helps break down the many areas your company/brand needs to be aware that it can be taken advantage of.
Learn about recent legal action taken to help combat Organized Retail Crime and the work that still needs to be done.
Do you have insights or commentary to add? Please reach out to us on social media!