July 6, 2020

3 Questions VPs of Sales Should Ask to Achieve Ecommerce Brand Control

Brand control. It’s something you should already be familiar with if you operate in the ecommerce space and are serious about profitability and long-term growth. If you’re not familiar, well, consider this your 101 course.

Pattern’s Chief Revenue Officer John LeBaron hosted a webinar discussing the importance of brand control on marketplace channels and how to achieve it with experts from Atrium Innovations, Vorys eControl, and Borderless Distribution. We’ve summed up the main points for you here, but if you want to immerse yourself in the experience or you need something to distract you while you ride your stationary bike, you can also watch it on our website.

1. Why should I control who is selling my products on marketplaces?

The first thing to consider is the why. Why should you care about who is selling your products on marketplaces? And why should you work to control it?

According to Adam Branfman, eBusiness Director at Atrium Innovations (parent company of Pure Encapsulations), it really comes down to trust. Atrium Innovations’ primary customers are doctors, who also operate a lot on trust with their patients.

“Brand integrity and reputation and relationships with our professional customers, doctors, is critical,” Branfman said. “Anything critical to growth and strategy starts with doctors. We sell our products directly to health care professionals and we rely on them, most importantly, for brand awareness and growth.”

About a decade ago, Branfman said Atrium Innovations had a significant problem with grey market growth, or unofficial sellers selling their products. While it can seem like a boon to brand awareness to have a bunch of people advertising and selling your brand’s product, Branfman said poor brand representation damaged brand integrity and the relationships doctors built on trust.

In short, why should you care about controlling your brand in online marketplaces? Because poor brand representation or worse, poor products (either old or damaged inventory, for example) can ruin the customer experience, thereby eroding your brand reputation.

2. How does brand control affect my ecommerce growth?

It can be scary to exercise brand control if you haven’t before. If you decide to switch from 1P to 3P on Amazon, for example, it can be daunting to think about possible revenue loss, and there may be sellers who are unhappy with the control levers you’ve put in place. But doing what’s best for your brand should take precedent.

“You have to understand what your brand objectives are,” Branfman said. “At the end of the day, you have to align with partners that have the same core values. You can’t please everybody.”

Limiting distribution in certain ways to increase brand control won’t decrease demand, Branfman said. Demand will always exist. Ultimately, brand control isn’t about growth as much as it's about protecting valued customers, reinforcing and strengthening relationships that will ultimately lead to brand success in the long term.

Establishing brand control doesn’t have to be all or nothing, explained Whitney Gibson, Partner at Vorys eControl.

“You want to take your levels of control right up to the point where the benefits you’re getting from the control outweigh the burden and the cost,” Gibson said. “I don’t think you necessarily have to limit it down to the point that you’re not getting the exposure that you want . . . there’s just a process.”

Like Branfman, Gibson emphasized that establishing brand control is a matter of building trust, which can be done and sometimes has to be done in steps.

3. How do I make a plan for brand control?

Now that you understand why brand control is important and how it will affect your brand’s growth, it’s time to take control. Before doing anything drastic, make sure you have a plan in place.

Check out our blog to learn more about creating a pricing policy, switching from 1P to 3P on Amazon, and how to protect your brand from channel conflict. Or, if you’re tired of reading after this post and want to get down to business, contact us by filling out the form below. Take control! You got this.

More Resources
Achieving Brand Control & Stopping Unauthorized Sales Online