4 Steps to Take Control of Your Amazon Strategy

Rachel Olsen

June 23, 2022

It’s no surprise that if you’re looking to grow your U.S. ecommerce business, you most likely need to be on Amazon. The site’s reach alone is incredible—servicing over 300 million active customers each year.

As one of Amazon’s top sellers and the leading ecommerce accelerator, Pattern provides brand partners significant resources, from distribution and logistics to creative, advertising, and data-driven insights, in order to crack the code that gets brands from good (or even not-so-good) to great on Amazon and other global marketplaces. 

And a key piece of advice for any brand looking to sell on Amazon, now or in the future, is to control your Amazon strategy before your lack of strategy controls you. Because Amazon US is a powerhouse in the ecommerce space, if you’re not prepared, you can get steamrolled pretty quickly with things like price erosion, the death spiral, and fall far behind with a weak seller strategy. So, how can you get ahead with Amazon?

Here are four steps to follow in order to gain control of your brand before it’s too late.

1. Discover Your True Brand Presence

We hear a lot of brands say “I don’t have to worry about issues on Amazon—we don’t even sell there!”  But if you think you’re not on Amazon, it’s probably time for you to think again. Do a quick Amazon search for your products. (Your customers are likely already doing this—it’s reported that 74% of consumers start their product search through Amazon.)

After a brief search and seeing the results, most brands we meet with are shocked to discover that rogue, unauthorized sellers are unknowingly offloading their products, often at below MAP prices, and potentially hurting their other selling avenues, from D2C to brick and mortar.

It’s important that every ecommerce brand that wants to be successful on Amazon knows how their brand shows up to consumers first. Before you can begin to control your Amazon strategy, you need to truly know how your brand is represented on the marketplace.

2. Develop a Strategy

For brands completely aware they are available on Amazon, you probably have one of three relationships to Amazon: you’re living in blissful ignorance of how your brand stands there, you’ve got contracted selling going on with authorized Amazon sellers, or you’re fully on-board, locked and loaded with Amazon as a major distribution channel for your brand (in a 1P or 3P seller relationship). If you happen to be a brand that just discovered your Amazon presence isn’t what you were expecting (surprise—your brand or some version of it is on Amazon), you might be tempted to stand up right now, gather all of your available resources, and spontaneously react to the issues you’ve just uncovered.

But before you reactively spark to action, we want to caution that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to Amazon. Before you can work on improving your brand presence (or official launch), you need to understand the right strategy for your brand. The last thing you want to do is waste your valuable resources.

At Pattern, we have the experience, proprietary technology and tools to effectively evaluate a brand’s presence and meet each partner where they’re at to develop a go forward strategy on Amazon. Based on historical Amazon category and product-level data, we provide analysis and recommendations that allow us to customize an Amazon launch—or relaunch—strategy, including a seller approach, for most brands that optimizes long term profitability.

3. Commit Resources

We’ll let you in on a secret—the truth is, not all brands need to be completely committed to Amazon right now, or are able to do so. If you really want to start distributing your products on the marketplace in the right way, it’s a big investment to get started (or improve your presence) there and to do it right. Many companies that make the mistake of committing too much too soon end up exacerbating problems for their brand instead of solving them. 

But if you do decide that now is the right time to start selling on Amazon, you need to make sure you have sufficient resources in place to execute the most profitable way for your brand. Starting your strategy off right will help you establish a lasting foothold in the market and keep you available to other marketplace and retail growth opportunities in the future as your brand develops and changes.  

At Pattern we have ample resources to improve a brand’s presence on Amazon. From brand strategy to advertising, from invoicing and fulfillment to product listing optimization and more, we know how to meet brands where they’re at and do what it takes to make them successful across digital marketplaces. 

4. Conquer Brand Control 

Now that you know where your brand truly stands on Amazon, you have developed a strategy, and dedicated the right resources to profitability, it’s vital that you prioritize taking control of your brand presence. 

The brands that take off on Amazon are those that move beyond the bare minimum of meeting the basic requirements of the Amazon algorithm in order to achieve top rank, have high product page conversion, and positive reviews. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that you’re selling real, quality products to real people.

So, in order to win in the long run, you need to drive traffic to your page, which means customers have to be able to easily find your listings. Then, they need to connect with your brand, easily learn about what you have to sell, decide to buy, and have a great product experience.

Pattern grows brand equity for hundreds of brands on Amazon and other marketplaces. From optimizing SEO and winning organic site traffic to developing product descriptions and image stacks, managing customer reviews, setting MAP pricing, working with an eControl firm like Vorys Law to eliminate unauthorized sellers, and consistently controlling the Buy Box all combine into a great customer experience and better brand affinity for you.

Partner with an Ecommerce Accelerator

Regardless of how you show up on Amazon today, most brands recognize Amazon is an essential aspect of a successful ecommerce strategy, but the expertise and resources needed to execute can be very daunting for many growing brands.  

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern has the experience, team, and unparalleled marketplace knowledge to help brands find their footings on Amazon and other marketplaces as they grow their distribution and maintain brand equity in a healthy, sustainable, proven way. 

Ready to address what your Amazon search revealed? Contact us to set up a meeting.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us