5 Ways B2B Tech Brands Can Improve Their Online Presence

Tim Wilson

August 31, 2021

Tech brands are on the cutting edge of everything new and innovative but, ironically, many have a fairly mediocre online presence, particularly in the B2B space. Online is everything in 2021, and brands that are growing the fastest are leveraging every tool they have in their toolbox to make a killer impression to buyers.

If the thought of getting there with your own brand seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. Creating a powerful online presence can take work, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but there are simple steps you can take to get started.

Here are five ways B2B tech brands can improve their online presence in 2021.

Pay attention to and treat Amazon like a real channel

Many brands treat Amazon like an afterthought. What they should be doing is making it a top priority. Amazon is the biggest ecommerce platform in the country, and it’s the fastest-growing channel for thousands of brands. In just the first quarter of 2021, Amazon made $837 thousand per minute. Their business sector is slated to bring even more success to the brand—Amazon Business has seen its gross sales grow 2.9 times faster than the total sales for Amazon, according to Digital 360.

Amazon’s growth is exciting, but it’s not the only reason brands should pay attention. The reality is that what happens on Amazon doesn’t stay on Amazon. You may not be in that space, but eventually, your product will be, and without a presence there, you’ll watch unauthorized sellers harm your brand image and your pricing across every other channel.

If you’re not doing so already, start assessing what opportunities exist on the Amazon platform for your brand right now and understanding the dynamics Amazon creates with your other channels. Think about how important Amazon was for your business two years ago, then think about how important it is now and may be in the future. It should be a central figure in your business planning.

Stay consistent

When brands sell on multiple channels, they often end up having inconsistent brand messaging, especially if they have a wide distribution of sellers who are partially crafting the consumer-facing side of their business on marketplaces. Consistency across channels is key to excelling in the omni-channel space.

Your brand should be immediately recognizable in a lineup. That means your image quality should be the same on your Amazon listings as it is on your B2B site. Your copy should be compliant across all channels, you should have a clear, unified message about your brand, and your customer service should be solid no matter which channel or seller it comes from. This helps your brand stay memorable and trustworthy for buyers.

Improve your seller ratings/reviews

Good ratings and reviews are one of the most important elements of a stellar online brand presence. Over 93% of your customers will look at your reviews before making a purchase, and if your reviews stink, your growth is going to flounder.

It’s important to note that your Amazon rating is fundamentally not about your product, but about how your product meets the customer expectation. That means you either have to change the product or change the expectation.

Assessing reviews and customer Q&As can help you determine a) the quality of your customer service experience and b) what customers are expecting from you. What is the overall feedback on your brand? What frequent complaints keep popping up? How do customers feel about the customer service experience and what language do they use to describe your product? The answers to these questions can be leveraged and repurposed to create an experience or product that meets customer expectations, and met expectations will help your ratings improve.

Stabilize your pricing

Without proper policy in place and without control, pricing on marketplaces can fluctuate like a rollercoaster. When it does that, it harms every one of your partners and ultimately your own growth.

Brands that don’t have control online (their distribution is too wide or they aren’t monitoring marketplaces) almost always end up in a predicament we call the Profitability Death Spiral. When a VAR or other seller decides to drop their price on Amazon to beat out the competition, all of your other sellers are forced to lower their prices to compete. This can go on and on until your good-faith sellers are hurting from lost margins and your overall brand is hurting, too.

To prevent price erosion from happening, you must regain control. This is done by being picky about which VARs you sell your product through and limiting distribution. Control is also maintained by enforcing MAP policies so that sellers know you’re serious about taking them to task when they mess up.

Another way to stabilize your pricing is to maintain price parity across all channels. Consumers should be able to go to your webpage and get the same price on an item there as they’d get on your Amazon store and vice versa.

Use a VAR with substantial marketplace experience

One mistake brands make in ecommerce is to work with VARs that aren’t well-equipped to protect or manage the brand on marketplaces. These partners might be able to sell your product, but they don’t have the resources to improve your brand’s online presence, your advertising, or your customer service. Once pricing and distribution are under control, your ticket to success is to find a VAR that can fill in the gaps in your strategy and be dedicated to your brand.

Pattern can be that for your business. Pattern is an exclusive ecommerce seller who works side by side with brands to help them thrive. Our in-house Predict software can help you find and eliminate the distributors who are eroding your prices, provide you with the best keywords to improve your products’ organic ranking, and view up-to-date analytics about your brand. We make sure your image stacks and copy are slick and informative, and we provide shoppers with an exceptional customer service experience reflective of the brand experience you want to offer.

If you’re interested in learning more about an Amazon-experienced VAR or how Pattern can help your B2B tech brand establish a killer presence on the marketplace, request your demo today or email zach.barber@pattern.com for more information.

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Aug 4, 2022

How Disjointed Sellers Take Away Brand Control on Ecommerce Marketplaces

A top issue we see with brands struggling on ecommerce marketplaces is a loss of brand control due to disjointed sellers—those that aren't following your brand policies and guidelines when selling your products online. Disjointed sellers can be gray market, unauthorized, and rogue sellers, as well as 3P and other sellers that are noncompliant with your branding, pricing, and other forms of representation online.

It can be very easy for brands to lose control of their ecommerce strategy when they can’t get a handle on disjointed sellers. Typically, these brands are either stuck in a game of whack-a-mole or just ignoring the warning signs of bigger issues and hoping for the best. But, when disjointed selling isn't handled right, the consequences can be devastating to profitability. A loss of brand control doesn’t happen overnight, and the factors that contribute to it are long-standing. 

Erode Consumer Trust

Before the advent of ecommerce, brands favored a wide distribution. It was the easiest way to get products to as many distributors as possible. But wide distribution, when left unchecked, leads to leaky distribution—allowing your excess products to end up in the hands of unwanted sellers.

So brands that continue to operate with a wide distribution strategy are losing brand control and are damaging their brand equity and product performance. Why? You’re unable to monitor your products’ pricing, performance, or quality. You can’t dictate how you’re represented by each seller, creating an inconsistent and false representation of your brand to your new and existing consumers. These issues often lead to poor reviews and erode opportunities to build trust with future customers.

Wear Away Brand Equity

In today’s ecommerce landscape, marketplaces and digital platforms connect people and sellers to make online shopping simple and seamless. They also provide customers complete price transparency. Google, for instance, allows consumers to access any of your products on virtually every ecommerce channel and retail location and posts them side-by-side for you to comparison shop.

Now, everyone from your D2C distributors to large marketplace sellers, legitimate 3P sellers, and rogue and unauthorized sellers are on a level playing field—they’re all presented to the searching consumer, and that consumer has the purchase power.

Disjointed sellers have just as much power and authority to represent your brand as you do, without the same quality, pricing strategy, and customer focus as you.

Cause Competition and Price Matching Issues 

In most shopping scenarios, consumers will choose to purchase a product from whichever seller offers the lowest price. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart know this, and optimize their product selection based on all retail offers to serve consumers the lowest price for the same item.

This means that as one seller drops the price of your product, the next will follow, and then the next, etc. Everyone gains access to the product at or below MSRP. This opens the door for unauthorized sellers to purchase inventory during promotions or at discounted prices and then turn around and sell the same product slightly below competing sellers’ prices—for profit.  

As customers search for your product, they notice the cheaper price and purchase from the unauthorized seller, rather than paying the price you’ve established with your retail teams. Simultaneously, as Amazon monitors their product listing against other available channels, they notice they don’t have the lowest price. So Amazon, and other marketplaces, in service of the consumer, drop their price to match the lower price offered by an unauthorized seller. To stay competitive, your other channels follow suit. The cycle, also know as the profitability death spiral, continues to drive down the price of your product, grinding away your margins and profitability.

This doesn’t sound like much of a problem if your brand isn’t actively selling on ecommerce marketplaces, right? Unfortunately, it causes big issues for your brick-and-mortar sales, too. Large retail chains like Best Buy and Macy’s noticed this potential loss of sales from ecommerce and needed to defend and protect their profit. Retailers started telling brands that, in order to keep their products in-store (which accounts for 80% of most brands’ sales) they would need to lower their prices to match online prices. Which led to the concept of price matching. If a customer could prove the price of a product was lower somewhere else, Best Buy would match the lower price and charge the brand for the difference.

As other brick-and-mortar retailers jumped on the trend, brands started to see large losses in their margins.

Gain Ecommerce Control with Pattern

The danger that disjointed sellers pose to brands is enormous—without a way to control all of a brand’s distribution points on ecommerce, your brand spins farther and farther down the profitability death spiral. Using custom technology and data-driven insights, Pattern can identify disjointed and unauthorized sellers for your brand and develop a custom strategy tailored to your specific needs to address these big issues as soon as possible. Then, Pattern partners with the econtrol law firm, VORYs, to enforce take downs and save brands who find themselves caught on any stage of the death spiral.

With the right resources and expert help, we’ve helped hundreds of brands to regain their footing and control on ecommerce, win the buy box, and grow their sales. 

Contact us today to regain your brand control.

Aug 4, 2022

Ecommerce Innovators Podcast - Achieving Growth Through Technology

Join us for Ecommerce Innovators, a podcast that brings together the brightest minds in the industry to explore innovative strategies and trends in global ecommerce. We'll analyze what top brands are doing to accelerate their online success and you’ll hear from top executives who are changing the game for their organizations. Our host is John LeBaron, Chief Revenue Officer at Pattern—the premier partner for global ecommerce acceleration.

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Apple

In our conversation with John Wessel, CTO and SVP of Product & Digital at Fresh Water Systems, he talks about digital transformation, innovation, and growth. Hear about the many hats John’s wears, how the company has transformed since the 90s to stay cutting edge, the pharmacy part of the business, aligning and prioritizing multiple channels, and competing with Amazon.

Ecommerce Innovators Episode Synopsis

As we interviewed John Wessel, here are some things we learned:

Content leads to search ranking. For Fresh Water Systems’ ecommerce site, around 70% of their traffic is to the blog. The secret for content is “well-researched, well-written, long form content that is informative”. John explained that they have an SEO team who writes 5000+ word posts that are researched and documented. People read these blogs and comment, which drives more traffic to the blogs.

Ecommerce is changing the shopping game. John shared an interesting story about a plumber who orders parts every Friday night online, from wherever he can get the best price. He doesn’t have relationships with one supplier or an auto-renew subscription for his parts. Instead, he finds the best price just for the parts he needs every week. John thinks the trend of price shopping will continue, especially as ecommerce grows.

Invest in customer engagement, but don’t invest a lot of time into emails. How many advertising emails do you actually read? Companies often spend a lot of time doing A/B tests and crafting the “perfect” email. However, John pointed out that almost no one reads emails anymore. Instead, invest your time into different brand touchpoints you will have with your customer. You can still send emails, but make sure you dedicate less time to the process.

Listen to the full episode for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Aug 3, 2022

How Pattern Took Sylvania Beyond Amazon to Achieve Double Digit Growth

As the leading automotive supplier and long-time brick-and-mortar brand of high performance lighting products, Sylvania was facing challenges to increase profitability on ecommerce.  Exclusively available on Amazon and direct to consumer, Sylvania built a strong seller network, with huge market share, but was having issues with compliance and optimizing ecommerce.

As the top ecommerce accelerator, partnering with Pattern provides the expertise and deep marketplace knowledge to identify additional marketplace opportunities for brands, and the strategic teams to effectively launch on global marketplaces. Partnering with Pattern was critical for Sylvania to grow its profitability on and beyond Amazon.  

Pattern Develops and Launches a Custom Marketplace Playbook

By effectively evaluating the opportunity for new customer growth, increasing profitability, and outperforming competitors, Pattern’s marketplace experts and brand managers went above and beyond to help Sylvania diversify its ecommerce portfolio.  

In addition to creating an eBay storefront, Sylvania expanded its products to Target+ and Walmart.com. In some instances, like on Walmart, Sylvania was already available on the marketplace but changed its strategy from a 1P seller model, which has its own challenges and roadblocks, to a 3P partner seller model–naming Pattern as its partner.

Whether it was launching on new marketplaces or shifting its seller strategy to achieve greater marketplace success, Sylvania benefited from Pattern’s relationships with and deep understanding of how to succeed on marketplaces.  

In addition, as an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern invests in Sylvania’s product and manages the brand’s entire ecommerce journey on each marketplace. This partnership takes the stress and fear out of launching somewhere new so the brand does not need to understand the nuances, best practices, and details of each individual marketplace.

Sylvania Sales Jump Almost 100%

Not only did Pattern help Sylvania with their simple goal to increase its availability on marketplaces beyond Amazon, the ecommerce accelerator helped the automotive supplier achieve: 

Exponential Sales Growth:

  • 97% sales revenue growth YoY from November 2018 to November 2019

  • 151% unit sales growth YoY from November 2018 to November 2019

Flawless Marketplace Growth:

  • Sylvania has expanded to Amazon, eBay, Target+ and Walmart, all with Pattern’s strategic marketplace expertise and knowledge

  • Target+ is difficult to get approved to sell on, but Pattern’s marketplaces team and its resources was the necessary advantage to get Sylvania listed

    • Pattern managed the administrative and compliance logistics to get products approved, listed, and optimized to match other marketplaces

    • Pattern is also working with Target to redefine categories so they better match Sylvania’s products 

  • Pattern’s customer service team helped Sylvania’s eBay business achieve 100% positive customer feedback

Pattern has the resources necessary for a brand to take control on existing and launch on new marketplaces.

"Pattern is truly an extension of our brand. They know what they are doing when it comes to everything needed for a brand to succeed on marketplaces.”

- Chris Mitchell, Sylvania OmniChannel Analytics Manager

Contact us today to build your game plan for and take control of your marketplace strategy.