In the past month we've been asked to re-evauate the online channel strategy for a number of consumer brands as a result of COVID-19.
In particular brands who may have been happy to be distributed only through third-party retailers in the past are asking whether they need to mitigate their risk and expand their addressable audiences through marketplaces or a D2C website. A poll conducted during Shoptalk's recent virtual conference found 30% of respondents thought FMCGs launching D2C sites was the most significant longer-term change they expected as a result of COVID-19.
Sense-checking their online channel strategy is an exercise that we recommend brands do regularly anyway; to ensure products are visible across the channels that their customers choose to shop on. Below we outline how to define your online channel strategy to ensure that each channel adds value to your overall presence.
Before you start to define which online sales channels are appropriate for your brand, it's worthwhile examining the roles that different channels play to help you acquire and retain customers. The below diagram highlights some of the reasons that consumers choose to shop with multi-brand retailers, brands' D2C sites and online marketplaces such as Amazon.
Each sales channel should have a distinct role. This might be that they add value in a different way to the other channels as D2C should, or they expose your brand to a new customer segment that might not have considered it before, as marketpalces can do.
In some cases a D2C site or online marketplaces might not be appropriate for your brand, and if you can't find a distinct role for a channel then it may not be necessary to operate. The goal is always to add value with each additional channel so they are not merely cannibalising sales from your existing routes to market.
Being clear on the value proposition for every channel can help if you need to have conversations with existing retail partners or internal stakeholders about potential channel conflict. It will also inform your pricing strategy for each channel; for example, you may be able to achieve higher margins on a D2C site if the product or service is differentiated from the other possible channels.
To validate your thinking about the value provided by each channel, a more in-depth market mapping exercise is required. Taking each of your target customer segments, you can map which channels are most relevant to them. Again, if you find that there are channels where the value proposition is not clear for at least one customer segment then you should question whether it's required.
Within each channel you may find that there are differences between the possible partners you can work with. The market mapping exercise can be extended to assess different third-party retailers or online marketplaces to understand how many, and which ones, you need to work with to benefit from the audience that channel can deliver.
We've run projects to help brands score and segment the retailers they are working with - based on the customer experience they deliver- to help the brand understand which retailers they should focus on. This can include informing where a brand spends its retail or shopper marketing budget, to provide support to those retailers who generate the best ROI.
The significant changes to buying behaviour - including the uptick in online traffic while physical stores have been closed or operating at a reduced capacity - is likely to have a longer term impact. With this in mind, we recommend that brands review their online channel strategy to ensure they have the optimal routes to market to reflect how customers will shop now and in the near future.
If you would like support with reviewing your online channel strategy - or with optimising specific online channels such as your D2C site or marketplaces - please get in touch at UK@Pattern.com.
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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.