5 B2B Tech Brands That Really Need Help on Amazon

Tim Wilson

September 7, 2021

Whether you like it or not, if you’re a manufacturer selling a product in 2021, that product is going to end up on Amazon.

Online B2B sales platforms have seen explosive growth over the past few years, and sellers looking for opportunity are paying close attention, including your own VARs. VARs are flocking to Amazon to create product listings and sell products, but far too many of them have no idea what they’re doing.

While this might seem harmless, VARs who are thoughtless about their listings and ill-equipped to navigate Amazon can indirectly harm the reputation and growth of the brands they’re representing. Even the best B2B brands in the world are negatively impacted by VARs misrepresenting their products online.

So what’s the secret to avoiding that? It starts with knowing the difference between a good listing and a bad one.

What makes a good Amazon listing?

A brand with a good Amazon presence incorporates best practices into their listings. These are just a few of the best practices that can elevate a listing.

Keywords

Brands with good listings leverage their product title by including long-tail keywords that can put their product at the top of organic search rankings and reach customers who might not otherwise be able to find them on Amazon.

Bullet points

Many brands lose their buyers’ attention by having too much information cluttering their product descriptions. Great product descriptions incorporate bullet points, which are far more concise than big paragraphs and allow buyers to quickly scan listings for the most important information about a product.

Good reviews

Research shows that 84% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. That means that in order to stand out, you need to have product reviews and you need a customer experience so stellar that customers are more likely to leave good reviews. Good reviews can also be showcased on your listing to give other buyers the social proof that your product is worth buying.

Quality image stack

Less is most definitely not more when it comes to listing imagery. A good rule of thumb is to have around seven images in your stack that allow consumers to get a complete view of the product. A good listing also has high quality images.

3D renderings

Good listings give consumers a full view and understanding of the product, and a great way to do that is to include 3D renderings. 3D renderings make listings more eye-catching, and they also allow consumers to engage with products in the digital equivalent way to touching and feeling them in-store.

Video

Like 3D renderings, video is a fantastic way to engage customers and give them a full understanding of what your product will look like and how it will function once they have it in-hand. Think of it as one extra layer of trust and education.

Consistent and appropriate price

When a price on a product is too low, customers distrust it, and when it’s too high, customers won’t buy it. A good product listing has a reasonable price, and that price doesn’t change dramatically often, and doesn’t change drastically if buyers shop around between sites and physical retail locations.

5 brands that are doing product listings wrong

Now that you have an idea of what it looks like when a brand is doing listings right, here’s what it looks like when a brand is doing listings wrong.

Sonicwall

Sonicwall Amazon Product Listing

Sonicwall is a six-time award winner in the Network Product Guide’s 2020 IT World Awards, but looking at this particular lack-lustre listing for their Network Security Appliance, you wouldn’t know it. For starters, this listing lacks the long-tailed keywords we mentioned previously that brands need to rank on page one of the Amazon search results. That means that potential new customers who don’t know about Sonicwall likely aren’t finding their product on Amazon. This listing also only has one product image instead of the seven which is considered best practice, and it lacks the necessary bullet points and descriptions needed to educate Sonicwall customers.

Cisco

Cisco Amazon Product Listing

Bad listings aren’t a problem reserved for small and little-known brands. Some of the best B2B tech brands in the world struggle with their listings. This particular example comes from a B2B brand well known for their product excellence: Cisco.

In the listing above we can see that there’s a bit more information about the product than in Sonicwall’s listing, but not much. While they have three images in their stack, all of those images appear to be the exact same image, giving customers a limited understanding of the product.

But the biggest issue with this particular product listing is the price. Historically, pricing on this listing has been all over the place and in no way consistent with MAP. Inconsistent pricing is a very common issue on Amazon, because the lowest price tends to be the one that “wins the buy box” or gets the sale on Amazon, but this is a misrepresentation of the brand and their image.

Axis

Axis Amazon Product Listing

The issues with this listing from Axis are pretty obvious. Although they have a great product rating, the page gives very little information in the way of educating their consumers. The imagery only shows the packaging and, like the Cisco example above, all of the images are duplicates. There is a lot to be desired in the way of customer experience.

Fortinet

Fortinet Amazon Product Listing

Fortinet shares similar problems with the last three brands. On this product listing, they only have one image, and they’ve committed the cardinal listing image sin: it’s blurry. There is not much in the way of product description or bullet points, the pricing is less than MAP, and the product doesn’t have any reviews, leaving consumers with very little information on why they should choose Fortinet over competitors.

HP

HP Amazon Product Listing

HP is another well-known brand that has an underwhelming Amazon listing. Even though this Print Server is high ranking in search results—you can see from the URL that its search rank is row one, slot three—the listing itself has some issues that render that ranking almost useless for the brand. They need to get more reviews, the majority of the few reviews they have are poor, they only have one image in their stack, and they also have no product description. Shoppers might be able to find this product on Amazon, but they won’t know anything about it and won’t be convinced to buy.

These examples, all from fantastic B2B tech brands, really depict the issue we see in the B2B ecommerce market. All of these brands have put time, effort, and money behind protecting their brand and its image, but because their products are listed on Amazon, and most likely not managed by a VAR with marketplace experience, the brand is cheapened and looks second-rate instead of the first class prestige these brands are known for.

Get a VAR with expert Amazon experience

Working with a VAR who understands Amazon well and knows how to leverage listings is key to doing well on the platform, and Pattern can be that VAR for your brand. At Pattern, we’re Amazon experts who work with brands to provide an exceptional customer experience across online channels. We consolidate every support tool and consultation you need into one package that includes marketing, SEO, shipping, customer experience, and marketplace expertise, saving you money and helping you grow your business.

To learn how Pattern can help your B2B tech brand create dazzling listings and grow online, get a custom demo for more information.

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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