After pushing through the Black Friday blitz you may think your brand is set for the year, but are you watching your brand protection through the full holiday season? The increased shopper traffic and excess of sales make this time of year extra enticing for devious ecommerce activity.
Roll call: Do you know what your brand is actively doing to ensure MAP compliance across marketplaces? What about leaking distribution—do you know exactly who is getting access to your product and how they are getting it? And how is your brand being represented online—are your product images high-quality, in-line with your style guide, and do they portray your brand vision?
Brand protection comes from safeguarding your product, pricing, and branding against sneaky ecommerce schemes that are, unfortunately, heightened during the holidays.
The plethora of deep discounts on quality products combined with the influx of holiday traffic create a goldmine for shady sellers. And thanks to internal pressure to have record-breaking sales and the hard reality that most ecommerce teams are running lean, these shady sellers can sneak in through your record-breaking numbers and wreak havoc on your brand.
For example, unauthorized sellers looking to make an easy profit can 1. buy-up your discounted inventory at your reduced, holiday-sale price, 2. hold the inventory until the sales have passed and prices return to normal, and then 3. list your product at a slight discount from your normal price and 4. steal your sales.
Shoppers are always hunting for the best deal, and if they see the same product for a lower price they will almost always opt to save a few dollars, not thinking about the who or why behind the discount. These unauthorized prices can lose your brand the buy box, halting your advertising abilities, and giving away your sales and profits.
Without brand control during the holiday shopping frenzy, there are 3 main facets of business that can be impacted for months to come—price control, future discounts, and listing consistency.
Your products are strategically priced based on competitive research, production cost, and a fair valuation, but unauthorized sellers are choosing a price based purely on profitability. By listing your product at a lower price they can erode consumer trust in the worth of your product, undermining your brand reputation and setting incorrect expectations for future purchase prices.
Unfortunately, not having brand protection during the holidays doesn’t just affect your brand during the cold months, the cold front can continue throughout the entire year as unauthorized sellers continue to undercut you and your authorized sellers.
But there’s more—by listing your product below MAP policy, unauthorized sellers damage your relationship with other distributors. Without control of the lowest available price, other distributors will be forced to lower their prices to compete. Then those distributors may have a hard time making a profit and can eventually choose to stop carrying your product altogether.
Bad actors love the craziness of the holidays, because it allows them to fly under the radar. Not protecting your brand during this crucial time can mean dealing with the consequences for months going forward, and may even hurt you in the next holiday shopping season.
Not only are your regular prices hurt, your plans for future promotions are also down the toilet. On Amazon, for instance, there are often minimum-discount policies when you want to run a deal—the catch is that the minimum discount is based on the lowest listed price for your product within the last 90 days. This is the lowest listed price from any seller—not just you.
This means that if an unauthorized seller lists your product for $75 when you normally list it for $100, and you want to run a 10% off deal, Amazon will expect your price to be 10% off of $75, not 10% off of $100. This forces your brand to run a promotion for a price of $67.50 instead of the anticipated $90. And even if you get the unauthorized seller removed, you’ll still have to wait out the set time period before you can run discounts your way.
Another way future promotions can be upset is by undercutting the promotions themselves. If the unauthorized seller holds the inventory until the next holiday season and takes advantage of the Turkey 5 frenzy, all of the hard work that went into designing promotions, procedures, and product listings can be ruined. Without protection your brand may lose the entire weekend to unauthorized sellers at unauthorized prices.
Not only can the unauthorized seller steal the buy box with their lower price, they can also mess with your hard planned branding. By selling the same product they will share your Amazon listing and can submit changes to your image stack, product description, and even listing title.
So if an authorized seller is sitting on inventory they want to get rid of, they could change your polished, on-brand title to a click-bait, unprofessional headline to help their endgame. And don’t get us started on the unsavory images they might add to offload your product. Listing control is another way shady sellers can hurt your brand reputation, but tools like Amazon Brand Registry can help you fight back.
The #1 tip we have for brands around the holidays is to ensure they’ve set purchase limits on discounted products. Without purchase limits an unauthorized seller looking to make an easy profit can buy-up your discounted inventory at a reduced price, hold the inventory until your prices return to normal, and then list your same product slightly discounted from your normal price. Setting a purchase limit greatly deters shady sellers looking for an easy score.
We know of a brand who reported massive—and suspicious—purchase quantities flying off the shelves. Luckily they quickly found purchase limits and dropped the purchase limit to 100. Unfortunately, the suspicious activity continued, albeit slower. But when they dropped the purchase limit down to 2, suddenly sales volumes returned to normal.
Keep in mind purchase limits don’t have to be a single item per order, you can choose to allow 2 products, 5 products, or however many products you see fit. But the lower number, the more an unauthorized seller is turned off to the work it will take.
We also recommend getting registered with Amazon Brand Registry. This allows you to remove suspected infringement of your brand and control your product listing with confidence.
What happens if you’ve already lost control of your brand? If you’ve been a victim of leaky distribution or high-volume holiday purchases, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Working with Pattern and our trusted legal partners will give you the tools you need to monitor, identity, and regulate the unauthorized sellers hurting your bottom line.
Brand protection matters year round, but gets especially tricky during the holiday shopping season. For more information on keeping your brand safe, get in touch today.
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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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.