Navigating the Global Marketplace

Lara Jelowicki

September 10, 2021

For many brands, expanding to new global markets and ecommerce marketplaces can be an untapped gold mine. Selling in more places and putting your product on more marketplaces can broaden your brand’s reach, act as a defense strategy against unauthorized sellers, and ultimately drive revenue.

But navigating the global marketplace on ecommerce is a lot easier said than done. Expansion can be massively expensive and time-consuming. If you don’t perform your due diligence and expand wisely, your untapped gold mine can quickly become a financial sinkhole.

While it would be impossible to adequately cover every aspect of navigating the global marketplace in one blog post, below we’ll present a few introductory ideas to keep in mind as your brand considers expanding.

Is your brand ready to expand?

While it may be easy to decide to sell on additional domestic marketplaces, deciding whether to sell on the global marketplace is more complicated. Here’s what to keep in mind to help make that decision:

Are you established in your home market?

It’s best to hold off on international expansion until you’ve reached peak sales in your domestic market. If you’re only selling $1 or $2 million in the U.S., it’s unlikely that you’ve reached your peak. Instead of focusing on internationalization, you should be focusing on your homegrown market and building your reputation.

Are you financially ready?

If you have reached peak in your domestic market, however, you should then consider if you have enough capital to fully invest in the global marketplace. Expanding to additional global markets isn’t cheap, and brands need to be prepared to cover regulatory costs, marketing spend, and other hidden fees. If you’re not prepared to invest, your expansion won’t be successful.

What are your international goals?

It’s also wise to establish your goals for launching your brand internationally. Once you hit a new market, it’s like setting up a new company — you probably won’t be profitable for 3-5 years. From the start, your strategy should be focused on the long-term. Entering the global marketplace isn’t a casual commitment that you can dip into and out of.

Do you have the resources?

Finally, ask yourself if you have the right resources and team members to facilitate a smooth international launch. You need to have a plan in place for reading reviews in foreign languages, speaking to international partners, arranging logistics, and following international regulations.

Strategies for the global marketplace

If you’ve considered the points above and feel like your brand is ready to enter new markets in the global marketplace, there are a few strategies you should consider to optimize your chances for global success.

**Research, research, research **

Research is a core internationalization strategy that you can’t afford to skip. Brands need to conduct research upfront to understand if the investment into international markets is worth the cost, and then continue to research to know the best strategies for their brand and markets.

Before expanding, brands should research which international markets to expand to in the global marketplace and how. The top 5 global ecommerce markets are the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Japan, and China. It’s logical to start with established markets since they’re already home to solid ecommerce infrastructure, making distribution logistics more simple. Even if there’s a large population and demand for your product in a given country, it will be difficult to scale your business if adequate technology, road, and delivery infrastructure aren’t in place.

While it’s good general advice to focus on large markets, this only applies if your brand’s product resonates in these markets. You should conduct a thorough analysis to determine whether there’s sufficient demand and opportunity for your brand and product category in a given market on the global marketplace. Conducting a competitor analysis can also help you identify gaps in the market and see how brands similar to yours are being represented on the marketplace.

Once you’ve decided where to expand in the global marketplace, you should also consider factors like pricing, translation, and regulatory and labeling needs. Determining international product prices isn’t as simple as converting your domestic price to a foreign currency. Instead, you should research the competitive landscape in the target market, be aware of local taxes, and factor in the additional costs you have to cover (like shipping and regulatory costs) to sell your product internationally.

International regulations are another consideration to research. Some ingredients may not be legal in foreign markets, and some countries may require labeling in the local language. Brands that sell supplements, for example, need to be aware of international regulations on supplements and how they might need to adjust their products to avoid getting shut down.

Understanding your customer is always important, but it becomes especially important while navigating the global marketplace. Ask yourself who your customer is, why they shop on marketplaces, what they’re searching for, and if there are similar products in the market already. Are their purchases driven by convenience factors? How can you tailor your messaging to match what they’re searching for? And how can competitors already in the market impact the demand for your products? You should answer all of these questions when creating your initial internationalization plan.

**Start small and work to full localization **

Like we’ve discussed previously, expanding to the global marketplace is an expensive process. To avoid the risks of heavily investing in a market where your product may not succeed, we recommend a three-phase internationalization process.

Phase 1 consists of testing your demand and ensure that enough customers exist in your target market to expand there. You can start by opening international shipping from your website or Amazon. In phase 2, you can continue cross-border selling while growing your demand with local marketing. When demand has grown enough to warrant the investment, brands can move to full localization, or phase 3, by creating a local entity and local marketplace listings.

Using this 3-step process can help brands mitigate some of the inherent risks of investing in the global marketplace.

**Localize while staying true to your brand **

Brand consistency is important, but when it comes to internationalization, so is adaptation. Your words might not translate well into the local language, making it necessary to alter titles or marketing content better catered to your international audience. The goal is to maintain your branding and the look and feel of your brand while adapting to local customers on the global marketplace.

Overwhelmed? Pattern can help

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the most basic principles of navigating the global marketplace. The process is both complicated and potentially overwhelming, even for brands that are incredibly successful in their domestic markets. However, Pattern has experience helping brands successfully launch internationally, increase sales, and exceed their goals.

By partnering with Pattern, we can facilitate this process and help you mitigate many of the risks of entering the global marketplace. We’ll handle due diligence and upfront research for you, helping you craft an effective long-term strategy while avoiding typical mistakes. We can work with your brand to help you prepare and know when to expand—or, if you’ve already started the process, we can assess your progress and help you do even better and perfect your marketplace management. We have the resources, staff, services, and infrastructure to ensure your international launch goes as smoothly as possible.

Interested in learning more? Get in touch for a free consultation or download our Internationalization Checklist to determine your brand’s readiness for expansion.

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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