4 U.S. Marketplaces Your Brand Should Break Into (Besides Amazon)

It’s no secret that Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of eCommerce. The giant claims half of all eCommerce sales in the U.S., has over 100 million Prime members in the U.S. alone, and 54% of U.S. product searches online are now starting on Amazon.

And the list goes on and on.

So why invest precious time and resources into expanding to other domestic marketplaces? Can’t I just master Amazon and call it good?

Why go beyond Amazon?

Well, have no doubt that you should dial in your Amazon offering first—it’s the bread and butter of eCommerce. But after you do, George Hatch, Pattern’s Director of Marketplaces, says there are some other key reasons you might consider pursuing the other half of eCommerce sales that the ‘Zon hasn’t dug its massive, furry hands into just yet: brand integrity and incrementality.

“If you're not selling your product in other domestic marketplaces—if you are not representing your brand—somebody else is, and it may not be up to your standards,” he said in Pattern’s recent webinar on the subject.

Not to mention, taking control of your brand across other U.S. marketplaces can help give you the growth that only comes from meeting buyer demand across the eCommerce spectrum (not just on Amazon). Plus, expanding into other U.S. marketplaces might set you up for success in the international eCommerce arena in the future.

The bottom line here is growth, Hatch said. Having a presence on other eCommerce sites can help you access swaths of new customers and grow your brand—all under your own terms.

So which U.S. marketplaces should I break into?

Hatch and the other experts at Pattern agree that four U.S. marketplaces should be at the top of your list when considering going beyond Amazon: Walmart.com, eBay, Jet, and Google Shopping. Each marketplace has a unique offering that could help you find key growth opportunities you didn’t know you were missing out on.

Walmart.com

The stats: Walmart.com grew its U.S. eCommerce sales by 37% in the first quarter of 2019, surpassing Apple to become the third largest online retailer in the U.S. after Amazon and eBay. Plus, it’s expected to capture more than 4% of the online retail market this year in the U.S.

Awesome, tell me more: Unlike Amazon, Walmart only supplies some 8% of its 44 million products. The remainder—a fat 92%—is coming from marketplace sellers. And there’s only 23,000 sellers on Walmart.com (compared to the over 5 billion sellers across the Amazon marketplace). Simply put, “the competition there is not to the same level that is it on Amazon," Hatch said.

Any challenges? Well, some people see Walmart as a discount retailer and brands may be hesitant to sell there so as to not tarnish their brand. But, as Hatch noted, if you aren’t there representing your brand, someone else is. Why not do it on your terms?

eBay

Fact or fiction? Many people associate eBay with used, c-to-c goods. In actuality, 79% of items sold on eBay are new. Not to mention, 70% of items on eBay ship for free across the U.S., U.K., and Germany. Oh, and 80% of their GMV last quarter came from fixed-price listings (or buy-it-now instead of auctions).

going beyond amazon ebay

Opportunities: eBay offers brands the chance to create a custom storefront and really tell their brand message to the consumer. Additionally, they give more of the buyer’s information back so brands can actually engage with that buyer in the marketfront. That way, brands can make sure that their customer service is on par with what they want to offer buyers.

What could go wrong? Counterfeit activity remains a challenge on eBay (and other eCommerce sites, for that matter). eBay has taken some anti-counterfeit measures in the form of their Verified Rights Owner Program. However, Hatch said, the best way to avoid counterfeits is to ensure you have actual listings on a marketplace to begin with. Buyers prefer to buy from the brand rather than third-party sellers anyway, but that can’t happen unless your brand has a presence in the first place.

Jet

Worth it in the long run: It’s true that monthly visits to Jet have dropped since Walmart acquired them in 2016 (going from some 35 million to 10 million). But there are still brands that are making significant sales on Jet, Hatch says. Plus, he sees Walmart possibly relaunching the site in the future.

Be where buyers are: Though there’s not too much to say here, the bottom line, Hatch said, is that “it just makes sense to be anywhere where your buyers might want to engage with your brand.”

Google Shopping

New blood: Since 60% of shoppers that buy on Google Shopping are new to that brand, Google Shopping offers a unique opportunity to reach customers who might not be searching on Amazon for their needs. With over a billion individual users accessing Google’s services across the board, taking advantage of the scale and reach of Google early on will pay dividends in the future.

Ease and freedom: Plus, Google Shopping offers a similar, universal checkout experience to Amazon, taking care of the customer service for the transaction to reduce the number of clicks for a buyer. Buyers can filter by brands and even search for products on Google Images and other Google services like YouTube. Google also allows you to feed them all of your brand information: brand-approved image stacks, descriptions, and titles, all “ensuring that it’s a great brand experience,” Hatch said.

But, (just as on other marketplaces) content in Google’s catalog can tend to take precedence over other content. Improving your search ranking may be a challenge, but nothing you can’t take on with some effort.

How do I get started?

The logistics of expanding to a new domestic marketplace can be daunting. It takes time—and a plan—to get there. Hatch says the marketplace experts at Pattern are a ready and willing resource to help you decide when is best to consider breaking into other U.S. marketplaces and how to do it best.

Even though other domestic marketplaces may seem to hide in Amazon’s large shadow, it’s no reason to ignore them, Hatch said.

"One of the reasons we feel that omni-channel ecommerce is so important for a brand is that—anywhere a buyer is shopping—we really want our brand partners to make sure that they have their message out there."

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6 Executive Trading Problems on Amazon and How to Avoid Them - blog header
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6 Executive Trading Problems on Amazon and How to Avoid Them

At Pattern, we are constantly trying to better understand brands' performance and experience on Amazon through our research and marketplace data. Our latest Amazon Seller report uncovered common pain points executives faced throughout 2022 on Amazon in Europe and the Middle East. 

Not too surprisingly, there was more than one trading challenge for CEOs selling on Amazon in Europe and the Middle East. There were several top responses such as supply chain issues, advertising, and stock outs–all challenges we hear frequently from 1P Sellers on Amazon no matter the region.  

Here is what we learned about 1P seller trading problems on Amazon:

1. Getting Product into Amazon Warehouses 

Of the brand CEOs who took the survey, 52% mentioned this challenge–making it the most common issue for the second year in a row.  Basically, executives struggle with getting their product into Amazon warehouses, which typically happens because Amazon FBA can be difficult to navigate and comply with. Illegible barcodes, not labeling your products correctly, and a failure to include certain details on barcodes are all reasons your product could be rejected by Amazon FBA works. 

2. Increasing Chargebacks

51% mentioned increasing chargebacks on their products on Amazon, which occurs when brands fail to maintain stock levels or fulfill orders on time. As a 1P seller, if there are any issues with the products you send to Amazon, they will charge you for the time and effort it took for them to resolve those issues. 

Various types of chargebacks could include unauthorized use of credit cards, operational malfunctions (late arrivals, technical issues, etc.), and packaging non-compliance. In a 1P Seller relationship, Amazon will charge vendors with these chargebacks, and disputing them is typically a long, time-intensive, and costly endeavor for any brand.

3. Increasing CPC Costs for Amazon Advertising 

Increasing CPC costs for Amazon Advertising was mentioned by 45% of respondents as a top trading problem. Getting traffic to a product listing helps brands keep their inventory levels stable, so that they never have too much or too little of the product. Increasing CPC costs leads to a possible loss in traffic to a brand’s product, leading to fewer conversions and sales in the long run. 

4. Your Own Supply Chain Being Disrupted 

Sometimes it is not an Amazon issue, but an internal resource and capabilities scenario. 43% of respondents mentioned their own supply chain being disrupted as a common trading problem. Supply chains can be disrupted by a variety of factors, such as inventory order delays, supplier issues, shipping expenses, and problems with existing inventory. 

5. Inadequate Forecasting Methods to Keep Enough Stock in Hand

Many brands lack the resources and expertise to accurately forecast stock levels, according to 38% of the survey respondents. Inadequate forecasting methods can lead to high costs, non-competitive prices, and dissatisfied customers.

6. High Out of Stock Levels Due to Amazon’s Algorithm-driven Price Reductions

High out of stock levels due to Amazon’s algorithm-driven price reductions frustrated 37% of respondents in 2022. Amazon’s dynamic pricing strategy makes sure that the most competitive prices are being offered to shoppers. Low prices are great for shoppers, but sometimes stressful for brand executives. Amazon’s sudden algorithm-driven price reductions can catch a brand off-guard, leading to stockouts. 

Why Most Brand Executives Face the Same Challenges

Being in a 1P relationship with Amazon has its ups and downs—just like any relationship. One of those downsides includes the trading problems mentioned above. In a 1P relationship, Amazon buys your product wholesale and handles most of the selling details, which can be very beneficial in some ways, but may lead to less brand control on your end. Brand executives selling their products through Amazon in Europe and the Middle East face the same challenges that brands are facing world-wide–a lack of brand control and resources to succeed.

Trading problems are just one aspect of the challenges brands face as 1P sellers on Amazon. Learn more about these issues in the full Amazon Vendor Survey from 2022.

How to Avoid These Issues on Amazon

The good news about the trading challenges brand executives are facing as a 1P seller on Amazon is that they are all avoidable. In a 1P relationship, you’re constantly being forced to work around their erratic forecasts, limited communication, and changing priorities. But in a 3P partnership, you dictate inventory management, allowing you to stay in-stock, maintain control of forecasting, and plan for promotions or holidays.

With Pattern as your 3P accelerator, you can simplify forecasting and get inventory to the right place. You ship inventory to one of our warehouses, and we handle the rest—distribution across Amazon’s warehouse network for FBA, repackaging products into bundles, and delivering your orders on time.

Avoid the trading problems on Amazon by partnering with Pattern. Contact us. 

Discover more insights by downloading our annual Amazon Vendor Survey EMEA.

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.