What is a control purchase in an online store and what tasks does it help to solve

what is a control purchase

A control purchase in the online store is a real or fictitious purchase of goods in order to identify and document the channels of entry to the point of sale, as well as the actual sale price.

Both offline and in online stores, the control purchase takes place secretly. But, if in a regular store the inspector shows the documents immediately after paying for the goods, then for an online store everything is much more complicated: it is rarely possible to figure out who the order came from - an ordinary buyer or an inspector.

According to the definition from Wikipedia, a "test purchase" is an imaginary transaction, which is one of the methods of financial control. Its purpose is to check compliance with the rules of trade.

From September 2006 to July 2018, one of the central TV channels aired the “Test Purchase” program. In it, experts evaluated consumer goods from various manufacturers.

A test purchase on the Internet is a tool that helps to find out the price and the channel for the receipt of goods in a particular online store, as well as the most effective method in the fight against price dumping.

Solving these problems is one of the top priorities for importers and producers.

Goals and objectives of the control purchase

A control purchase can simultaneously solve several tasks at once:

  1. Identification of "gray imports" and counterfeit goods.
  2. Antidumping fight and price control.
  3. Identification of shops-switches.
  4. Control and verification of online sellers to protect consumer rights.

Identification of "gray imports" and counterfeit goods

One of the most common cases when you should use a test purchase to clarify the situation with the origin of goods from the seller: some online store sells products of your brand, but you did not supply these items to him, and did not even import them into the country. There is a high chance that this seller sells contraband or "gray" goods. It is also possible that a low-quality fake of dubious quality is being sold under the guise of products of a well-known brand.
A favorite place to sell contraband and counterfeit products are marketplaces and bulletin boards. Buyers regularly complain about fakes disguised as originals on popular marketplaces.
For example, one of the buyers purchased a counterfeit hard drive, the seller of which was the marketplace itself. After the buyer wrote a complaint, the money to him
Popular bloggers also conduct and shoot videos about fake cosmetics on marketplaces. One such investigation involved suspiciously low prices for Korean cosmetics on the Wildberries marketplace. For the examination, they took the Elizavecca face mask. The check showed that the mask was fake.

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    Anti-dumping fight and price controls

    This is one of the key tasks for suppliers and manufacturers who value the reputation of their brands. The solution to this problem is divided into 3 steps:

    Exposure of negligent dealers.

    The standard situation is that an official supplier (manufacturer) receives an order to stop working with one or another online store due to systematic dumping, dirty competition that harms the brand's reputation and other reasons. All partners agreed, signed the relevant documents, and the very next day they discovered that the goods in the store from the black list were still successfully sold, and even at a price below the MAP/ MSRP.
    Only a test purchase from this seller will help to bring out a cunning dealer who decided not to give a damn about the agreements. So that other dealers are not tempted to work with other stores from emergency situations, the violator should be punished with a hefty fine and deprive of bonuses. This will serve as a good lesson for other partners, and they will think three times before they decide to act behind your back. The violating store will have 2 options: either continue to work, but sell the goods, observing the MAP/ MSRP, or sell off the leftovers and remove positions from the store pages.

    control purchase in the online storePrice Control was contacted by an importer of Italian sanitary ware who faced dumping in online stores. To restore order in the market, we used tools such as price monitoring in online stores to detect all violators and test purchases to determine the channels for the receipt of goods. A test purchase in one of the online stores made it possible to identify an unscrupulous supplier and apply penalties to him. In addition, the supplier was forced to return the money for the goods purchased in this online store.

    Identification of shops-switches.

    It is not uncommon that in order to attract customers, an online store introduces products of a well-known brand into its assortment, and even at a very low price, although in fact it does not work with the trademark and is not going to. This is done in order to offer an analogue of another brand instead of the "bait" product, which supposedly has just ended. These stores are called "switches". Often, their advertising can be found on price sites, and the main goal of such unfortunate sellers is to increase traffic to their site.

    Control and verification of online sellers to protect consumer rights.

    In cases where the commodity producer carefully controls the MAP/ MSRP and does not spare violators by imposing fines, online stores can try to outwit him. Their logic is quite simple, if you set the status of the product to “out of stock”, then the underprice is not dumping. Contacting the store with the question of “when will the product be available?” in half the cases it can be purchased now. The second trick of the stores is to provide a discount during the purchase process, and the supplier is provided with information that the buyer has made an advance payment.

    Control and verification of online sellers to protect consumer rights

    One of the reasons for the test purchase, in addition to the above, may be customer complaints about the poor quality of service, goods or lack of documents. Such purchases are carried out by state regulatory authorities in the field of consumer protection. Also, public organizations regularly conduct test purchases. In the course of their research, it turned out that almost every 4 online store does not provide information about the owner of the site, and 40% do not have the right to sell goods online at all.

    Types of test purchases, their pros and cons

    how to make a control purchase

    One of the reasons for the test purchase, in addition to the above, may be customer complaints about the poor quality of service, goods or lack of documents. Such purchases are carried out by state regulatory authorities in the field of consumer protection. Also, public organizations regularly conduct test purchases. In the course of their research, it turned out that almost every 4 online store does not provide information about the owner of the site, and 40% do not have the right to sell goods online at all.

    Control purchase and its types, pros and cons

    Depending on the goals and objectives pursued, a test purchase can be carried out in several ways: by telephone, ordering goods at a point of issue with cash on delivery, as well as ordering goods with a buyout. Let's look at each of the options in more detail.

    Test purchase methodPros of the method
    Cons of the method
    Ordering goods over the phone with a further refusal to purchaseThe easiest and cheapest method. With its help, switch products, the actual sale price and delivery time, as well as the legal entity for which the store is registered are calculated.

    High probability that you will not be able to identify the supplier of the goods to the store

    Ordering goods to the point of issue with cash on delivery with a further refusal to purchaseThe ability to take a photo of products and accompanying documents, make a visual inspection of the goods, and identify its channel for entering the store by serial numbers, product passport and "warranty".Increase in the cost of a test purchase relative to the first method. You will need to pay for shipping and return of the item.

    Purchase order

    The opportunity to thoroughly study the purchase, documents and conduct an examination of the purchased goods. This will become evidence for identifying cases of “grey imports” and smuggling in online stores.The most expensive way, which will require full payment of the cost of the goods and its delivery.

    Conditions necessary for the implementation of a successful test purchase

    Not all producers will benefit from a test purchase in order to identify an unscrupulous supplier. And this is not an isolated case.
    The reason lies in the lack of registration of serial numbers of each unit of goods, despite the presence of a trademark in the Internet channel for more than one year. It is impossible to trace which of the suppliers this or that product has gone if it is not marked.
    On each unit of goods or on the box, on the warranty card there may be a marker that will identify the offending partner. Otherwise, the test purchase will be useless.
    We recommend that our customers do not put off registering the serial numbers of each item and tracking which distributor it went to.
    Many companies are under the misconception that there is nothing complicated in conducting a test purchase in online stores in order to identify contraband and counterfeit products, as well as price dumping. However, after 2-3 such "promotions" it becomes impossible to continue, because. information on the network between stores is distributed very quickly: the name and contacts of buyers are blacklisted buyers.

    control purchase objectivesTherefore, the best way out of the situation would initially be to entrust this process to professionals from Price Control. They know for sure about possible problems and have all the necessary skills and tools to solve them.

    Want to learn more or book a consultation with a specialist? Contact us!





      демо
      Елена Ковалева
      Article author: CEO-specialist of the company 'Price Control'. Higher education. Studied Executive MBA at kmbs. Over 7 years of experience in e-commerce.

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