It’s easy to throw your product online, forget about it, and go about your business expecting to make big profits on ecommerce in your sleep. Even though the internet has made some incredible things possible—like ordering 1,500 live ladybugs to your doorstep—what it can’t do is tackle your brand management for you; and without brand management, you could be inadvertently causing real financial harm to your company.
At a high level, brand management (or marketplace management) is a component of marketing that ensures your business is running smoothly and has consistent messaging across all domestic and international channels—this includes your marketing, your advertising, logistics, listings, social media, and more. In ecommerce, brand management includes controlling how other sellers use your brand name and products in the marketplace.
Brand management (or the lack thereof) directly impacts how customers view your brand and your product, which affects the value of your brand and product, and the price a shopper is willing to pay for your brand’s products. With good management, you can increase the perceived value of your product line and improve your brand equity over time. You can also grow brand awareness and build a tight ship that consumers love and trust.
Without brand management, you’re essentially giving unauthorized sellers or even poor authorized sellers permission to say and do whatever they want to your brand image.
Let’s say you’ve got an awesome product in the market and you’ve got a wide variety of partners selling it. You might think your job is done and that these partners can just distribute your product and make money for you without you doing a thing.
Not so fast.
There’s an old adage that when the cat is away, the mice come out to play—and it applies to brand management. Without brand management, sellers are more likely to throw your product listings on Amazon with reckless abandon and without the care your product deserves. They might have an image stack with low quality photos or not enough photos, for example. They might not provide enough details on the listing for a customer to feel confident making a purchase. They might use messaging that’s inconsistent with your own messaging so that buyers don’t trust that they’re getting a genuine product.
Now I’m sure you’re thinking “Not so fast! I picked a good distributor, they would never do this.”
But we would argue (because we’ve seen) that even the best appearing distributors can get a little shady when they need to make a profit. If one distributor goes rogue and lowers the price, the rest of your distributors may lower their prices to compete, which means your price is now lower overall. Or if one distributor decides your product isn’t selling well enough, they may take a few liberties in the title or product description, just to help push your product a little harder.
Unfortunately, all of these things don’t just reflect badly on the seller, they reflect badly on your brand. Because even though the product comes from a third-party seller, the first thing a customer will see on the listing is that it’s your product and your brand. In fact, the unique seller is rarely noticed by marketplace shoppers. It’s a sobering and important note that all of the hard work you put into creating a good reputation can become worthless if you aren’t controlling it across all sellers and all marketplaces.
Poor brand management, in addition to harming your reputation, can have significant and immediate negative financial impacts. One of the most common ways this can happen is through price erosion.
Price erosion happens when an unauthorized third-party seller gets a hold of your product and undercuts your pricing. This tactic is useful for the authorized seller as they will drive your shoppers to their discounted product, leaving your fully priced product on the shelf. But it leaves your other distributors out to dry as consumers will choose the lower price over the authorized retailer. This strain causes every other seller to lower their own product pricing in order to stay competitive. But this eats into your margins and your sellers’ margins, and these price drops will keep happening over and over again until your sellers run out of inventory.
Not only does this diminish the perceived value and quality of your product to customers, but it harms your relationships with your sellers. If they know that you’re not managing your brand online to prevent situations like this and protect them as sellers, they will have few incentives to continue selling your products in the future.
And you can’t blame them. If sellers can’t make a profit on your products, why should they continue to sell them?
Okay, okay, so brand management is important for the reputation and financial health of your brand, but what does it look like and how does it work?
Brand management comes down to having a solid brand strategy, quality partnerships, consistent messaging, and effective brand protection that stops rogue sellers in their tracks.
One way you can manage and protect your brand online is by creating and enforcing a MAP pricing policy to standardize the recommended pricing of your products on Amazon. Effective MAP policies let your sellers know that you’re serious about keeping pricing stable and willing to enforce consequences when sellers underprice. It can weed out the bad players harming your brand and support the partners that want to do business with you the right way.
Another way you can manage your brand better online is to limit your distribution to one or two quality distributors so leaks are less likely to happen. When you focus on a few quality sellers you can trust that your messaging will be consistent across all channels. You want imagery to be high quality and your brand voice to be recognizable, engaging, and true to brand, whether a customer is finding your product on social media, your website, or another seller on Amazon.
Rather than doing all of this work on your own, though, you might consider hiring an outside brand manager to partner with you, tackle the workload, and bring your ecommerce gaols to life.
Your brand manager should have a good sense of what your brand is and what goals you have for the future. A good brand manager will work in partnership with you to enforce your policies and messaging. Ultimately, when looking for a brand manager, you want to find someone you can have a good relationship with who cares just as much for your brand as you do.
Here at Pattern, we offer high quality and strategic brand management for our partners as well as every tool they need to take back control of their ecommerce business from the ground up.
With access to our internal data and tech software, our brand managers work in concert with your ecommerce team and to pinpoint your pain points on ecommerce, enforce your MAP policy, clean up your listing copy and imagery, and provide you with an SEO marketing plan that helps you to capitalize on the right keywords and reach your target audience.
When you partner with Pattern, you receive your own brand manager who helps manage your Pattern team, answers any questions you have, and helps you drive a strategy for success. We’ll make sure your branding and content is consistent across all of your channels and provide stellar customer service to keep your customers coming back.
Ready to learn more about the financial savings and brand protection of a partnership with Pattern? Get in touch today.
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Walmart.com has announced important changes regarding the “Was Price” and promotions on the digital marketplace. These updates make it more important than ever to optimize your price through implementing proper strategies, controlling your distribution channels, and being intentional about your pricing strategy.
And, as with all digital marketplaces, succeeding on Walmart.com requires performing well in all areas of The Ecommerce Equation. Which means as you optimize your listings’ pricing, as well as traffic, conversions, and availability, your revenue increases.
Pattern has the resources ecommerce brands need to optimize on marketplaces for each factor in the ecommerce equation. We have the technology and strategists to help you improve your traffic, the brand dedication and passion to help you achieve greater conversions, connections to econtrol specialists who help brands regain marketplace control, and the data you need to be able to make smart forecasting decisions for better product availability.
Below, we’ll cover how Walmart.com’s recent platform changes impact ecommerce brands’ ability to drive traffic and conversions for their products and how to strategize around them to work best in your brand’s favor. But first, let’s go over the changes themselves.
Walmart.com’s newest changes reflect their mission to be the leader in low, everyday pricing. Therefore, Walmart’s customers come to the platform and expect low prices no matter what. Overall, these updates give consumers more visibility into the value they’re experiencing and hold brands more accountable in the pricing information they display.
Due to Walmart’s updates, in order for your products to qualify for a strikethrough and show “Reduced Price” or “Clearance” flags on Walmart.com, your product’s promotion must be at least 10% off the “Was Price.” (Note: “Reduced Price” is the most common type of badging. Your teams can request this badge when filling out promotion upload files.)
To specifically qualify for “Clearance,” the product needs to be discontinued and no longer replenished after selling through the remaining inventory.
Although “Rollback” is sometimes seen on site, it is a form of 1P-only badging.
Walmart now prohibits promotions lasting longer than 365 days.
Walmart’s “Was Price” was previously loosely defined and manually inputted on Walmart.com as an MSRP. Now, stricter rules are in place with regulations in the broader market to encourage enforcement and protect consumers.
The “Was Price” is now defined by these terms on Walmart:
Either the 90-day median price paid by customers for the item on Walmart.com (excluding special promotions like holiday campaigns, limited time deals, rollbacks, and clearance);
Or the median price offered by Walmart or Marketplace sellers for the item on Walmart.com for at least 28 out of the last 90 days (excluding special promotions like holiday campaigns, limited time deals, rollbacks, and clearance).
To protect your “Was Price” from price erosion, be intentional when planning promotions. To be most effective in your promotion, you’ll want to be able to give your customers a large enough discount to qualify for the slash-through and reduced price badging.
Without the right pricing strategy in place, your products are in danger of falling into deeper and deeper discounting as you chase the ability to achieve slash-throughs and proper badging. Without the slash-throughs and badging, you’ll lose the ability to easily communicate the increased value of your product and the traffic and conversions you’re trying to earn by running the promotion in the first place.
It’s important to keep your products’ prices as steady as possible to protect your promotion periods. As you prevent high-low price fluctuations, you’ll be able to use slash-through prices and promotional badges like “Reduced Price” and “Clearance” to your advantage in driving better traffic and conversions for your listings.
Without the ability to display badging, a promotion falls flat even if the price has been dropped. With steady pricing over time, you’ll be able to keep a stable “Was Price” and ultimately enjoy more rewarding promotional periods long-term.
It’s important to remember that the “Was Price” policy also applies to 1P and other 3P sellers representing your products on Walmart.com. Unfortunately, your other strategies will be ineffective if other sellers are breaking your MAP policy or playing the high-low price game. So, it’s more important than ever for brands to be conscious of their distribution channels and keep rogue and unauthorized sellers in check.
By allowing Pattern to be the authorized seller of your brand’s products and working with Vorys eControl law firm to eliminate rogue sellers, you can be confident in creating and executing a powerful selling strategy on Walmart.com and other digital marketplaces. As a 3P seller partner, Pattern is truly invested in our partners’ success, we’ll help you to create and execute a strategy that truly prioritizes the long-term performance of your products on digital marketplaces.
Contact us today to learn more about the changes on Walmart.com and how you can optimize your performance.
Pattern’s Accelerate22 event, the global ecommerce acceleration summit, provided a way for participants to learn from each other and leading experts about building a successful ecommerce presence. During our Brand Control and Compliance track, Leslie Hensell, co-founder of Riverbend Consulting and an Amazon expert, spoke to attendees about “Bezophobia”—the fear of losing brand control on Amazon. She talked about the importance of having a clear strategy to help you perform your best on the digital marketplace and the fact that achieving that is much harder to do in a 1P Amazon relationship.
With better control, which is more achievable in a 3P relationship, brands can let go of their fears and more richly enjoy the inherent benefits of selling on Amazon. If you think you could have a case of Bezophobia, read below for three important areas every brand should have control over when selling on Amazon.
Pricing is a huge concern for brands selling on Amazon—in most cases, Amazon prioritizes their customers’ happiness and providing a great experience for them on the platform over brands’ best interests. So, they want to offer their customers the best price available at all times.
This seems harmless enough until a rogue or unauthorized seller enters the ecommerce space. They’d like to capture your consumers’ interest as well, and often list your products at a lower price than you’d authorize. When Amazon notices the change, whether on its platform or on another, they drop your listing price to match.
Many brands seriously struggle to raise their prices after events like this occur, leading to what we call the Profitability Death Spiral. As your product prices fall, it’ll be harder and harder to raise them again, especially if you’re operating with Amazon as a 1P seller.
At Pattern, we know brands can’t achieve marketplace acceleration without brand control. So, we partner with econtrol firm VORYs to allow all brand partners to better understand their distribution channels and how to address control problems that ultimately lead to pricing issues.
The next key area of control brands should be focused on is their product selection on Amazon. Leslie spoke about this being a common issue for brands—as mentioned above, Amazon doesn’t see your brand as its top priority.
Many brands provide a certain assortment of their products to Amazon to sell, then find that their expectations don’t match Amazon’s efforts. Leslie has worked with many brands that have believed that Amazon will list, market, and move product the way a brand would if they were managing their Amazon presence themselves.
But, in a 1P relationship, it’s difficult to get true visibility into what’s really going on. If Amazon buys your products without putting the effort in to represent your product selection in the way you think, it can cause big, long-term issues that are very difficult for brands to reconcile.
In Leslie’s experience, this is a brand’s most important area to have control over on Amazon. Your ability to sell products is completely dependent on how you’re able to showcase those products through your content. And, in a 1P relationship, brands lose the ability to have the final say over how their products appear to consumers.
Leslie has seen many cases of brands’ sales dropping inexplicably, only for them to discover that their vendor has made significant changes to product detail pages and other marketing materials, such that they no longer reflect the brand.
Pattern understands how important your brand representation is on digital marketplaces like Amazon. So, when we agree to partner with brands, we provide a suite of creative services to help your products look their best, including a studio team for fully-optimized pictures and videos and an expert advertising team that knows how to write descriptions and copy that really help your products stand out among the competition.
If you’re able to get ahead and get in control of your Amazon strategy, especially in your pricing, selection, and marketing efforts, you have no need to fear the digital marketplace. As an Amazon expert and ecommerce accelerator, Pattern knows what it takes for brands to truly succeed, and is committed to helping all brands take charge of their strategy to achieve long-term success.
Set up a call to talk more about Amazon and ways Pattern can help you make the platform work better for you.