Ecommerce Agencies: Band-Aid or Solution?

Tyler Park

March 18, 2021

If your business is growing and you’re finding more and more need for support on various responsibilities, you’re probably asking yourself if you should hire contractors, new employees, or a specialized agency to help. An agency has expert experience after all, but does that extra support only help temporarily?

An agency can do a lot for your ecommerce brand when you’re in a tight spot: they can give you specialized advice, relieve some of the pressure on your team, and help you expand your brand presence in exciting new areas. Most businesses overwhelmingly choose to work with agencies when they’re trying to grow their brand, but are agencies really worth it? Or are they only a short-term solution for your brand’s needs?

Why brands choose to work with agencies

The cold, hard reality of working in ecommerce is that having only two or three pairs of hands to get the job done doesn’t cut it anymore. Ecommerce is too big and it’s too complex, with a myriad of moving parts to manage. Can you really expect a single employee to manage multiple product SKUs on multiple marketplaces using multiple advertising platforms, and be extraordinary at all of it? This mindset is what contributes to ecommerce teams being overworked.

When you only have the time and manpower to focus on one area of ecommerce, fires—like disparate data or price erosion—will inevitably start in other areas of your ecommerce. And when that happens you’ll somehow have to find the time and resources to put them out. By the time you get around to it, there’s a good chance the issues have escalated or solidified. That’s why working with one or more agencies makes so much sense. Agencies can be a fix to some of these issues.

Agencies free up your time to work on other issues

Brands who hire outside agencies to take care of things like marketing or social media find themselves saving a significant amount of time on hiring, training, and onboarding their own staff to do this work, as well as simply managing the staff themselves. Agencies, in many ways, act like co-parents for your brand: they take much of the load off your shoulders so you can get back to business and bring home the bacon.

Agencies give you niche expertise

You might be an expert at web development, and maybe your teammates are marketing mavens. But, no matter how talented your team is, there are always going to be elements of your business that fall outside of your expertise or that you don’t have the resources to do yourself. Agencies address the issue of siloed expertise by giving you a professional outsider’s eye on key elements of your business. There are agencies for your marketing, your advertising, your product images, your copy, individual marketplaces, international marketplaces—you name it! There’s an agency for everything. Agencies know their stuff, and they do it well so you don’t need to worry about it.

Agencies can improve sales

When sales are stagnating and you’re running out of ideas on how to improve, an agency can give your brand the juice it needs to get back in the game. Agencies supply brands with resources, sounding boards, and creative new perspectives on how they can grow. They also may have experience in proven strategies that you hadn’t considered, or didn’t know existed. The right agency can be a valuable addition for your ecommerce team.

The catch with traditional agencies

Even though there are very valuable benefits to working with an agency, a traditional agency isn’t always a one-and-done solution for your brand’s long-term needs. At best, an agency can take care of your immediate needs, bump your sales, and partner with you for long-term success. At worst, an agency can become an absolute money pit for your brand and do the exact opposite of what you hired it to do.

Traditional agencies can quickly get pricey

Entering into a contractual agreement with just one agency may cost you several thousand dollars per month for several years, and most ecommerce teams end up having to hire more than one agency to manage their brand. When costs pile up, soon your CEO is wondering what they hired you for in the first place if you are outsourcing so many responsibilities. They’re also questioning why they’re spending so much for services that aren’t driving significant profit. That’s a bad position for you and your team to be in.

Traditional agencies can have conflicting interests

Unfortunately, agency fees aren’t the only costly thing about them. Agencies have disparate interests that can create a lot of friction and ultimately interfere with your profits as well. While you’re concerned with growing your brand long-term, a traditional agency can be more incentivized to get in, drive quick results, and get out, even if they’re not spending your money in the most efficient or effective ways possible. Traditional agencies will almost always look after their interests first, making them the wrong fit for your needs.

It can be harder to coordinate efforts with traditional agencies

One thing that can be said about keeping all of your ecommerce grunt work in-house is that you can remain fairly consistent in your messaging, because it’s easier to keep everyone on the same page. Your team knows your brand better than anyone.

Once you outsource to an agency, you’re working with an entirely different body that, like we mentioned previously, has different incentives, systems, and goals than you do. More agencies means more meetings, which means more planning, different reporting formats, and more paperwork. In your efforts to create less work for your team, you may unintentionally create more headaches.

But don’t give up yet. While traditional agencies can have some faults, there’s a more effective and inexpensive option for your brand. And this option can get you long-term growth, save your brand money, and impress your boss, all while you give your overworked ecommerce team the chance to breathe. That option is Pattern.

Pattern: Not your traditional agency, but a long-term solution

Pattern puts a twist on the typical ecommerce team and agency relationship by centralizing everything you need for your brand that you’d otherwise hire an agency to take care of—marketing, advertising, SEO, shipping and packaging, product design, marketplace expertise, D2C, we do it all! With our myriad of experts working on your brand, you can work with one ‘agency’ for everything instead of several agencies for individual areas.

We use extensive data analysis to find and address the pressure points wearing out your ecommerce team, too, so you can get back in business. The best part? All of these services are included when your brand partners with Pattern. But now you’re thinking, how much will this cost me? If agencies are expensive and Pattern is an upgrade, this is a pricey solution, right? Wrong.

We believe in helping you succeed, and we’re so confident we can drive results that we pay you. We buy your inventory, take on the risk, worry about the product advertising, sales, and fulfillment, and then we look to the future to see how we can help you even more. And because we assume the risk, we can’t succeed unless you succeed. We don’t just take your product and run, we collaborate with your brand strategies, needs, and goals so that everyone can win.

A Pattern partnership is a lasting and supportive relationship. We invest heavily in your brand and put in the work to help you nail your long-term strategy and growth, not just benefit from short and gimmicky sales spikes. You don’t have to worry about investing tens of thousands of dollars into a partnership that keeps your team busy with ineffective projects and doesn’t ultimately get your brand where it should be. At Pattern, we pay you first and we only win when you do.

Get a demo today and see for yourself why Pattern had a 100% retention rate in 2020.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 26, 2022

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads

Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.

1. Go Early

In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.

From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.

2. Get Ready for Privacy Changes

 According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.

From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.

It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.

3. Ensure Consumers Can Discover your Brand

A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.

Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.

The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)

4. Get Moving with Performance Max

Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.

Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.

5. Flight Budgets Accordingly

Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.

Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.

Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Marketplace Consultant Must-Haves

Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces. 

Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.

So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.

Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.

An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.

Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services. 

2. Proven Results

It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.

4. Network of Resources

The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces. 

With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.

Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.