The Opportunity Costs of Not Controlling Your Brand Online

John LeBaron

December 7, 2020

Want to know a secret? Successful ecommerce brand leaders aren’t focusing on revenue.

It seems counterintuitive, and in many ways it is. Traditionally, brand leaders focused on revenue at all costs to grow their business, but in ecommerce, that strategy is no longer effective. Those at the very top are breaking the status quo by focusing both on their top-line and bottom-line growth. And to do that, they’re getting in control of their brand online.

The truth is that brand leaders can’t afford to not focus on control. It’s a key difference between massively successful brands and brands failing to make a profit, and it’s one of the most important things to ensure right now if you want your brand to thrive.

The opportunity costs of no brand control

There are four big opportunity costs of not getting your brand under control:

  1. Additional revenue
  2. Additional margin
  3. Brand equity
  4. Long-term sustainable growth

Additional revenue and margin costs

Let’s say you have no or little control of your brand online. Specifically, you aren’t limiting your distribution, you aren’t monitoring the brand experience across distributors, and you don’t have consistent advertising across channels. Without control, you may not initially have any problems. In fact, sometimes you end up with more revenue when you don’t have control because you have wider distribution. However, that ultimately ends up being a kind of mirage or temporary growth strategy.

Profit and Revenue Over Time Without Brand Control on Ecommerce | Pattern

Wholesale revenue is represented in blue, profit margin is represented in black.

Without control, even if your revenue is going up, your profit margin is going down. Why? Because by widening your distribution, you’re leaving the door wide open for price erosion.

Before the age of ecommerce, wide distribution was the gold standard. It was important to get your product in as many stores as possible because that was the only way to increase your revenue. Long-term profitability was practically guaranteed this way because there was less transparency in the shopping experience.

With the rapid rise of mobile shopping, however, this strategy has ceased to be effective. Consumers are constantly scouring the web for the lowest price they can find, and now they can compare prices from hundreds of distributors right in the palm of their hand. The more sellers you have distributing your product, the more options customers have to choose from, and in order to stand out in a packed lineup, sellers will start lowering their prices.

A dropped price is like a thrown gauntlet in ecommerce. Other sellers will be forced to lower their own prices to compete, including your brick-and-mortar sellers, and like a string of dominos, those prices will continue to be lowered to get ahead. Even if 20% of your business is eroding your pricing like this, it will impact every seller you have.

What happens next is that these sellers are left without margins. Maybe they purchased a product from you for $50 at wholesale and were selling it for $100 when an unauthorized seller got a hold of it and marked it down to $70. Suddenly, those authorized sellers are having to lower their price to $70 to compete and it’s eating up their own margins. So what do they do? They come to you and tell you they can only pay you $30 for your product. What began as lack of control or limitations over your distribution has now crunched into your own profit margins.

Brand equity and long-term growth

Lack of control online doesn’t just directly harm your revenue. It also indirectly harms your revenue by negatively impacting brand equity.

You may have a beautiful dot com site with high quality image stacks, engaging copy, and a responsive customer service arm to boot that draws shoppers to your product. When you cede control of your brand on other ecommerce platforms, however, you essentially give unauthorized sellers the freedom to represent your brand however they’d like, and given the chance, they rarely represent it faithfully.

Unauthorized sellers may use low-quality images to represent your brand or no images at all. They might provide bad descriptions of your product or very poor shipping options and customer service. Customers will see that and they will automatically associate it with your brand and brand experience. Your brand equity suffers as a result.

Without active steps to change course, lack of control can cause every one of your channels to become less profitable and ultimately cut into your long-term growth.

Control helps you capitalize on marketplace growth

Not only is control a key factor to your success as a business, it’s also the first step in capitalizing on marketplace growth. Once your pricing is under control and you have better brick-and-mortar performance as a result, you can devote more time and resources to things like making your advertising more consistent and powerful across channels, improving your product’s search rankings (which leads to more sales), and providing a thoughtful customer service experience across all channels that makes shoppers want to come back.

Gaining control gives you the space to really show up for your brand, and capitalizing on that will help you achieve a myriad of small wins that keep your growth sustainable. At Pattern, we call this process the Profitability Flywheel.

Pattern's Profitability Flywheel for Ecommerce Profit and Revenue Growth | Pattern

How to get in control of your brand

There are three main steps to start with that can help you get your brand under control:

  1. Rationalize your distribution on ecommerce
  2. Stabilize pricing
  3. Get expertise

Rationalizing your distribution on ecommerce

If you have many sellers, you’re going to need to start by scaling down your distribution. Less is much more when it comes to online control. Ideally, you should narrow your choices down to one to three sellers. This step may be difficult, but it’s critical to retain control.

**Stabilize pricing **

Once you’ve scaled down your distribution, you need to have policies in place that can prevent sellers from eroding your prices. Be strict about enforcing MAP. Make sure your sellers are aware of what those policies are and don’t be afraid to cut out bad players who don’t play fair.

**Get expertise **

Once your pricing and distribution are under control, you can start focusing on growth. Find a partner who has the resources to help you improve your brand’s online presence, your advertising, and your customer service. Look for trustworthy partners who are familiar with your brand and have the dedication to help it succeed.

One option is Pattern. Pattern is an exclusive ecommerce seller who works side by side with brands to help them thrive. Our in-house Predict software can help you find and eliminate the distributors who are eroding your prices, provide you with the best keywords to improve your products’ organic ranking, as well as up-to-date analytics about your brand. We make sure your image stacks and copy are slick and informative, and we provide shoppers with an exceptional customer service experience reflective of the brand experience you want to offer.

To learn how Pattern can help you gain control of and grow your brand online, contact us today.

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Amazon's Sponsored Product ads
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What Are Amazon’s Advertising Products? Sponsored Product, Brand, & Display Ads

What Are Amazon’s Advertising Products? Sponsored Product, Brand, & Display Ads

Utilizing Amazon sponsored ads can be a smart way for a brand to drive greater traffic to a product listing and start increasing sales. While many brands still struggle to manage their advertising strategies, 30% of Amazon brand sellers increased their advertising budgets in 2022. As ecommerce executives (or even on the nose with VPs of ecommerce?)  approve their 2023 advertising budgets, it may be worth it to take a look at Amazon’s advertising products and the benefit they may have on increasing conversions. 

​​Pattern is the premier ecommerce accelerator with all of the expertise, data-driven insights, and technology brands need to gain control on Amazon and maintain their competitive niche. We know the high value of and how to utilize Amazon’s advertising products to drive the most traffic and conversions to benefit and accelerate your brand.

Here are Amazon’s three main advertising products you should know about in order to drive listing traffic to your products and increase conversions: 

For a brand executive who is selling their product on Amazon, you may not already know the differences between campaign type, so we will walk you through the differences and uses for each of these three ad campaigns.

Sponsored Product Ads

Sponsored Products are a mid-funnel advertising strategy that gives visibility to products above the top organic listings (see example below). This strategy uses custom keywords to get products in front of the consumers who are searching for them, however it can be used to capture new audiences as well.These cost-per-click (CPC) ads require no additional copy or images, but usually receive the most interaction of the campaigns and need to be monitored closely.

As you can see, these ads look just like an organic listing, however they say, “Sponsored,” on them. These types of ads can be especially effective forms of advertising because they tend to blend in with the organic results around them. With Sponsored Products, you can get your products in front of qualified customers who are searching for your product in such a way that doesn’t make them feel like they are being served an advertisement.

Sponsored Brand Ads

Sponsored Brand Ads are a top-of-funnel brand awareness tool and function on keywords. This ad format helps show a customer what they may be in need of and where to get it.  Commonly used to promote product lines or best sellers, a Sponsored Brand ad shows up as a banner above the search results (see example below). This type of ad requires that the brand showcase at least three separate products.

Unlike other campaigns used on the Amazon platform, Sponsored Brand ads require ad copy and a unique logo. These ads also can take customers to a custom landing page, or a page on the brand store, that way they get a clear and overall picture about who your brand is, what other products you sell, and why they can trust your brand

Sponsored Display Ads

Sponsored Display ads can be a tactic for top, middle, or bottom of the advertising funnel due to its varying targeting abilities. Although most commonly found under the bullet points of a detail page, these ads can also show in emails, newsletters, and even more locations off platform.

Unlike the previous ad campaigns discussed, sponsored display ads can target shopping behaviors, like repeat purchasers, similar product purchasers, and even people who viewed the detail page but did not buy. Sponsored Display ads help customers discover your brand, drive awareness, and create loyalty. 

The example above shows just one of the many placements Sponsored Display has.

Accelerate Your Sponsored Products With Pattern 

Rather than competing with each other, each of the three sponsored ad products focus on a different section of the sales funnel, allowing you to target your customers and hit your sales numbers, all while edging out possible competitors. When brands use these advertising campaigns, they can better optimize their ad budget to improve ROAS and build revenue. 

At Pattern, we have all the resources to help your brand build successful advertising and digital marketing campaigns on Amazon so you can increase traffic and conversions, which will in turn increase your revenue

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022
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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/)

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads
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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.