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Wholesale dilemma

Hi all,

Well, I seem to have gotten myself in a bit of a pickle…I filled an
order a few days ago for one of the Egyptian amulets I make. The
woman who bought it also asked for a wholesale list, which I sent
after checking out her online stores. Then I got an e-mail from her
in which she said how much she liked the piece she had bought and
told me that she had added a couple of the items on the wholesale
list to her site. Wondering how she could have done this when she
hadn’t actually bought those items, I went to her site and found that
she had lifted my photos and item descriptions and placed them on her
site.

I wrote her immediately and asked that she at least add my name to
the descriptions, which she did - although it is misspelled (and
therefore does not turn up my page in a Google search). She explained
that she lacked the space to keep items in inventory, so she would
order them when orders were placed for them, and hence the
image-lifting, as she couldn’t sell things without a picture and she
couldn’t photograph things she didn’t have.

I’ve been mulling this over for a few days. I really hate to make
enemies, and I might be able to benefit from increased sales of
these items through her website, but I am also annoyed that she has
not actually placed a wholesale order and that she never asked for
permission to use the material from my site, which was just plain
cheeky, although I don’t sense any particular deviousness from my
communications with her. I really wish I’d gone with my first
impulse and told her to take a running jump (and get my stuff the
heck off her site), but I was trying to find a diplomatic solution
to the issue.

Image-stealing issues aside, this boils down to two questions:

Is it acceptable/standard for resellers to advertise items they
haven’t purchased, and to order them from a wholesaler only when
they receive orders?

Is it logical to sell to a web reseller when you will end up
competing with your own website?

Thanks for your experience and arbitration,

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, Ohio

Actually some of the jewelry stores I worked for did this on their
website with large wholesalers. When the item was sold we used to
order it. However, your name should be put there correctly, to
create brand awareness.

Eva

Hi Jessee,

Being able to purchase at wholesale prices isn’t for one piece at a
time. That’s retail. She should have to meet some minimum requirement
to purchase as a wholesaler. Also, what is her return policy if there
should be a problem, how will she pay you for pieces, has she
adjusted her on-line prices to cover your shipping charges? Many more
questions, I’m sure.

She should have had communication with you before she put your work
on her site. If you do agree to work something out with her your work
should be clearly marked with your name and any copyrights, etc.

Usually, if something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

Best of luck,
Pam Farren

Require a minimum order! She is treating you like a drop shipper.

mike w

Hi:

If you are going to send the completed piece to her customer, this is
called “drop shipping”. Even if you are not sending the finished
piece directly to her customer, it is very similar to drop shipping,
a form of wholesale.

Unless her website is extremely well know in comparison to yours, why
put the items on her site and make less money? Having said this, I
DO drop ship, but I do not allow the company to use my name.

I think it was very unprofessional for her to lift your images
without asking.

Rhona

Joel, I don’t sell wholesale so may be completely wrong in my
comments, but it strikes me that for your own protection, all of
your wholesale (obviously it contains pictures) that you
have should be clearly marked with some sort of protective statement
for you, such as "This may not be reproduced in any form
without consent from the jeweler (author, owner, however you wish to
desiginate yourself).

At least in that way it would serve as a warning - though I doubt
seriously it would prevent anyone from doing what this person did if
they really want to do this. I think if you are really uncomfortable
with her doing this, I’d certainly call her up and talk to her about
it and tell her that you find this is competing with your own website
and that if she wishes to purchase the items she may, otherwise,
you’d like her to remove them from her website or clearly include
your name and website designation.

I also think (though I don’t know the technology) that you can set
up your documents so that the pictures may not be copied. I have
tried occasionally to copy a photograph from the website and
sometimes it can’t be copied or saved no matter what you do. So I
know there is technology out there that will accomplish this. Maybe
you even know how to do it already.

Good luck with your dilema and I feel for you.

Kay

 I really wish I'd gone with my first impulse and told her to take
a running jump 

jessee -

it’s not too late to watch her grand jete & hoist herself on her own
petard while she’s up there in midair: wait until she gets an order
for your item and contacts you, then sweetly email back “i’m sooo
sorry but that item is not available.”

anyway, she misspelled your name on her website so there shouldn’t
be any blowback to the real you -

ive

who believes life is too short to allow self-interested others to
tell us how to live it.

    Is it acceptable/standard for resellers to advertise items
they haven't purchased, and to order them from a wholesaler only
when they receive orders? 
    Is it logical to sell to a web reseller when you will end up
competing with your own website? 

What a disappointing experience - but I smell a rat, Jessee!! This
is someone who is using you–your talent, hard work, and resources
(web, photos)–to try to make her own money. By lifting your photos
and pretending to wholesale (she’s not really wholesaling, she’s
trying to create a multilevel marketing scam of her own, with you and
presumably all the other artists doing all the work) she has shown
that she’s not a viable working partner who can help you grow your
business.

You’re being very sweet and diplomatic, but since you’re worried
about it, I think your instincts are right: diplomatically and
sweetly tell her you appreciate her interest in your art, but that
you’ve decided not to do web consignment, which is what she’s doing
– a “virtual consignment” if you will. If you want to do real
wholesale, I highly recommend wholesalecrafts.com – email Anette at
wholesalecrafts.com for more info. You’ll do much better than
anything with this unethical if nice person!!

Roseann

    ... I have tried occasionally to copy a photograph from the
website and sometimes it can't be copied or saved no matter what
you do. So I know there is technology out there that will
accomplish this. 

Hello Kay,

I don’t mean to be contradictory but the basic nature of web browsers
is such that if it can be displayed it can be copied. Sometimes you
have to get pretty creative, perhaps even downright determined, in
order to do it but it can ALWAYS be done.

At the very least the screen frame can be captured via video memory
and manipulated as you wish thereafter. Obviously this isn’t
something your average user is going to be doing but I think it is
important to remember that it is always possible.

Cheers,
Trevor F.
in The City of Light
www.touchmetal.com

Anyone who displays pictures on their websites should add javascript
to the site so that right-click is disabled for both IE and
Netscape.

Craig

Thanks for the initial responses! I’m sure there will be more…I
ought to have mentioned that I only sell items at wholesale prices
in minimum quantities; otherwise I really would be shooting myself in
the foot!

I hadn’t heard the term “drop shipping” before (or if I had, I
hadn’t given it much thought). I certainly don’t believe this is a
good way of doing business for a one-woman operation like mine. Time
to disentangle myself from the whole mishegoss.

For future reference: do any of you have your wholesale customers
sign a contract or other kind of agreement to protect yourself and
your work? I have actually drafted one, but I would like to have some
firmer guidelines to follow as to what kind of stipulations can be
made. I’ve previously only done wholesale to brick-and-mortar shops,
and the web opens up a whole new can of worms.

Thanks again,
Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, Ohio

Jessee,

As someone else said, most wholesalers require a minimum order
amount. It should be no big deal to say to her, “I appreciate your
interest in offering my jewelry through your website. We have a 10
(or whatever) piece/$xxx.xx minimum order and accept the following
forms of payment on first time orders. Please be advised that we
cannot fill single item orders at wholesale cost.”

This is how I would handle the situation.

Carrie Otterson

Hi Jessee,

The cat may be out of the bag now.

However, your best bet is to talk to an attorney & see what you
legal options are. Before talking to her/him, determine what course
of action you wish to take. Do you want to sell wholesale? If you
do, what’s the minimum number of pieces or dollar value you’ll
accept? Do you want to compete with your own web site?

If all you want is for her to remove your photos from her site &
quit advertising you items, a Cease & Desist letter from an
attorney may do the job.

Dave

I would defiantly put a watermark on your pictures. A watermark on a
picture for those who did not know, is a name or website url, etc.
that is visible in the picture. Some image programs you can put a
transparent lettering. It can still be read, but does not hinder the
seeing the image. I would put the watermark right across the image,
that way it can’t be cropped off.

If she is using your images without hosting them herself (right
click on her image, select properties), you can change the image to
anything (use your imagination), and that picture will show up on
her site. She won’t ever do that to you again.

Tom

  Anyone who displays pictures on their websites should add
javascript to the site so that right-click is disabled for both IE
and Netscape. 

I have to vehemently disagree with this. It will not stop anyone
from copying your image if they want to (ever heard of a screen
shot?) and those of us who use tabbed browsers will be unable to view
the image in new tab. It’s a real pain in the rear and when web
designers do this it sends me to the "exit’ very quickly. Put your
name and copyright info in your pictures if this is a big issue for
you.

Courtney
Courtney Graham Hipp
cgHipp Jewelry Designs

I also think (though I don't know the technology) that you can set
up your documents so that the pictures may not be copied.  I have
tried occasionally to copy a photograph from the website and
sometimes it can't be copied or saved no matter what you do.  So I
know there is technology out there that will accomplish this. 
Maybe you even know how to do it already. 

Don’t be fooled by this - the supposed ways of copy protecting
on website usually relies on features in the browser
used to view it. For example, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and
Netscape allow you to put code into your web page which disables
their ‘right click’ and ‘save’ functions but, if you use a different
browser such as Opera or Mozilla, this doesn’t work and you can copy
and save pictures and other as you wish… The only
relatively safe way of placing pictures on your website is to bind
them up in a Flash or Java script but, even then, the pictures can
be saved - if at a lower resolution, by using a screen grabber type
of software. Adding a ‘watermark’ to pictures is probably the best
way of protecting your work.

Best Wishes
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

    I would defiantly put a watermark on your pictures. A
watermark on a picture for those who did not know, is a name or
website url, etc. that is visible in the picture. 

You can get this type of software inexpensively - Mac users who are
upgrading to iPhoto 5.0 will get it included, or you can get
iWatermark or DropWatermark for around $20. PC users, google
"watermark digital" to see what’s available. I haven’t done it yet
due to laziness, but will soon.

Roseann

    Anyone who displays pictures on their websites should add
javascript to the site so that right-click is disabled for both IE
and Netscape. 

The problem with that is that the keystrokes “ctrl+C” when
highlighted will allow you to copy even if javascript is enabled.
Still, it’s better than nothing.

James in SoFl

   Anyone who displays pictures on their websites should add
javascript to the site so that right-click is disabled for both IE
and Netscape. 

Please don’t do this. It does almost nothing to protect your images
and really really annoys website visitors. There are lots of things
that the right button does that are very useful in general website
navigation.

Please,
Paul Ewing

I hadn't heard the term "drop shipping" before (or if I had, I
hadn't given it much thought). I certainly don't believe this is a
good way of doing business for a one-woman operation like mine.
Time to disentangle myself from the whole mishegoss. 

Drop shipping is an acceptable way to do business, and I have
supplied drop shippers in the past. I do usually work out different
terms for them and the few web based ones usually only get 20% to 30%
off of my retail prices. If you get those tons of catalogs in the
mail selling home accessories and everything else, then you are
looking at a lot of products that are sold via drop shipping. Also
technically Guild.com is using a drop shipping model for their
website and print catalogs.

For future reference: do any of you have your wholesale customers
sign a contract or other kind of agreement to protect yourself and
your work? 

You really can’t do much if you are selling the items. Once someone
buys your product, they can do whatever they want with it. The only
thing you can do is not sell to them again. If you are consigning
items, then you have more options since the items are still legally
yours.

Cheers,
Paul Ewing