Toyota Europe has improved its online brand protection strategy by employing a range of offerings from anti-fraud vendor MarkMonitor.
The company faces online challenges in the shape of the sale of counterfeit parts and accessories including bumpers, body mouldings, alloy wheels, radiators, spark plugs, head lamps, floor mats and t-shirts.
As well as impacting on revenue and the value of the brand, Toyota also felt that customer trust in the car manufacturer would also be hit.
Toyota Europe used to tackle online fraud with just one member of staff, who managed the task manually.
Sabine Fetu, brand protection project manager, Toyota, said: “We had one investigator in Europe who was trying to track everything with emails and spreadsheets. It required a tremendous amount of manual work.”
“After identifying a problem and getting all the right information from the auction site, he would manually send out cease-and-desist letters and then follow up to make sure the case was resolved. It took up a majority of his time.”
In addition to this, the employee was only tracking online fraud in the UK; there was no attempt to examine counterfeit sales in other European countries. The manual nature of the tracking meant that there was no automatic integration with online auction sites, which added to the administrative burden the company was facing.
Fetu says she was first introduced to MarkMonitor at an anti-counterfeiting and brand protection conference in London. Toyota did put out a tender for the job, but selected MarkMonitor due to its integration with online auction platforms.
“We looked at other vendors but MarkMonitor was simply better. The reporting was better, the user interface was better and the overall design was better. No other vendor had such a strong integration with major online auction sites,” Fetu said.
Toyota Europe settled on MarkMonitor’s Online Channel Protection, Domain Management and Online Trademark Protection platforms.
MarkMonitor’s Online Channel Protection platform can automatically respond to sales of fraudulent goods on auction websites by producing cease-and-desist letters as well as payment processing deactivation and auction de-listings.
“With automated cease-and-desist letter management alone, MarkMonitor has nearly paid for itself. It saves us so much time,” said Fetu.
As well as monitoring the UK, Toyota markets in Germany, France, Spain and Italy are also protected. The product is scalable, so more markets can be added at a later date if required.
As well as the added protection to its brand, Fetu says Toyota Europe has seen a marked increase in efficiency.
“We have all the data we need to effectively manage cases and aggressively pursue illegal activities. MarkMonitor captures all activities, documents and images associated with any case if we need access to historical data. We can also track how much illicit merchandise we’ve taken off the market and report those figures to management,” Fetu said.
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