Pattern’s Predictions for Q4 Ecommerce Sales Around the World

Akta Bavalia

October 26, 2021

The fourth quarter is the most lucrative time of the year for most retailers and brands–both online and offline–with a multitude of shopping festivals, deals, and promotions leading up to the end of the year. We've asked our ecommerce and marketplace experts around the world for their predictions for peak Q4 sales.

Last year peak sales patterns and trends were disrupted in various markets due to most stores being closed due to the pandemic, and while peak sales this year may not beat 2020 figures in all markets, we still expect to see a huge lift in numbers, both in-store and online, with big shopping holidays like Black Friday (White Friday in the Middle East) and Cyber Monday, as well as Singles’ Day in China being a huge driver.

For brands preparing their strategy, Pattern’s General Manager, Germany Torsten Schafer, suggested that brands steer away from using last year’s trading figures as a benchmark for predicting demand this holiday season.

What will be the biggest sales peak in 2021?

We asked Pattern’s senior leadership team what their predictions for 2021 Q4 peak sales were, and specifically for the biggest day in terms of revenue.

For the Middle East, USA, and Australia, Black Friday and that Cyber Weekend (sometimes referred to as the Cyber 5) is expected to see the largest peak in sales, especially online, while in China and Europe, Singles’ Day, and December respectively, will see the largest peak.

Australia

Pattern’s General Manager for Australia Merline McGregor commented: “We’ve seen an increase in online shoppers in the past 12 months thanks to COVID-19 and store closures–59% of sessions being new. In addition to this, August 2021 saw our biggest tracked revenue month in our Benchmark Report’s history, with revenue exceeding November 2020 (the previous record holder) by 21%. This was primarily due to New South Wales and Victoria being in lockdown. If this trend continues, we’ll likely continue to see some record-breaking months ahead.”

She added: “Despite most physical retail likely to be back open by this point, I’d assume there will continue to be some hesitation around crowded shopping centers and so consumers will continue to shop online.”

USA

Pattern's USA Director of Marketplaces George Hatch agreed that COVID variants will limit brick-and-mortar sales and some retailers will shift to being closed over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as Walmart is planning to be. However, Black Friday will still likely be the highest revenue day for ecommerce.

George Hatch also predicted that: “this holiday season we expect to see deals spread out rather than crammed into a single day. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will surely see the lion's share of discounts and promotions, but shoppers can expect to see deals throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and well into December, and likewise retailers should anticipate a big lift over Turkey 5–the 5 days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Weekend. We saw this trend in 2020 as the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend saw the highest YoY growth at 113%.”

Middle East

Meanwhile, General Manager MENA David Quaife predicted the White/Black Friday weekend will also see the most sales in the UAE and Saudi Arabia: “White Friday will be, and has always been, the biggest online selling period. Typically, online retailers should expect to see 3.5x increase in sales in November vs October–this may vary between pureplay and omnichannel retailers.” In the past year or two, the Middle Eastern ecommerce market has experienced sharp growth which is why he expects to see a very strong performance for the big online players this year.

Additionally, the delayed Expo 2020 Dubai will commence in October 2021 and run through to end of March 2022. The footfall to this event will provide a major boost to retail sectors with many visitors expected from outside countries such as Europe and the USA. David stated it would be interesting to see if any of these customers place online orders with Amazon.ae during their stay.

Latin America

In Latin America, though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still large festivals, Buen Fin which takes place earlier in November, usually kick-starts the shopping season in Mexico.

“Brands need to be ready by the time Buen Fin rolls around to not miss out on capturing the entirety of Mexico's shopping season. Last year, the event raked in US$11.9 billion in total revenue for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce,” George Hatch advised.

Europe

In Europe, Torsten predicted: “This year, the biggest days for online sales could be as late as Sunday 19th and Monday 20th December, because of when Christmas falls.” Furthermore, he stated: “last year was an exceptionally strong Q4 online because of store closures, and so retailers may not achieve year-on-year sales increases online. However, they should see growth on their 2019 holiday sales–maybe as much as 25% to 50% growth on their sales two years ago if they are running an established online shop and if they have acquired new customers in 2020 who have become more confident buying online.”

China

In China, Singles’ Day is the biggest 24-hour online shopping festival in the world and is expected to continue being so. Pattern’s General Manager Asia, Arthur Cheung predicted: “Tmall will release the best offers seen throughout the year. However, the sales volume will be so large that it will heavily impact the speed of the fulfilment. It could take a month for an order to arrive to the customer, which is not very common in China where delivery times are usually within 2-3 days.”

And it’s not just in China where we expect to see issues with delays in fulfilment processes. Pattern’s leadership team in Europe, the USA, and China expect that retailers and brands will focus their efforts on trying to spread out sales peaks and promotions so their warehouses and delivery infrastructure can cope.

The impact on delivery delays, fulfilment processes and logistics

In Europe, typically Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have been spread out over the week leading up to the shopping event and the whole week of Cyber Monday–a trend that Torsten predicted will continue. He also added: “This is a combination of retailers trying to attract spend before their competitors and retailers spreading out the peak so that their fulfilment operations can cope with the spike in demand. Last year, Amazon ran Prime Day in mid-October, but it has already taken place this year, so discounting and promotions are likely to be more focused on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, with retailers trying to maintain full price sales prior to that.”

Meanwhile, delivery delays are not expected to be such an issue in Europe and the Middle East, but there could be real issues in other regions. In the USA, Amazon has been working to improve its logistics capabilities by relying less on UPS and USPS, but George still anticipates that many products will not arrive in time for Christmas if they are bought after early to mid-December.

Similarly, in Australia it has already been advised that consumers can expect lengthy delivery delays leading up to Christmas. Therefore, Merline predicted that the majority of consumers will aim to get most of their Christmas shopping completed by Cyber Weekend, hence why she believes Black Friday will be the strongest day on the 2021 trading calendar.

How retailers can cope with excess stock issues

Lastly, in Australia and the UAE it is expected that retailers will have lots of stock to discount that they haven’t been able to sell while stores were closed. They will likely try and discount online to get rid of product over the Black/White Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.

David expects to see a very big push from these businesses to clear a lot of that aged inventory in the month of November with deep discounts, which may then result in a big swing to online channels. Merline also mentioned that some retailers who are eager to clear stock will offer significant promotions. However, others in Australia have consistently faced stock shortages and logistics delays during 2021 and will not want to discount stock so close to the Christmas period.

Looking for more Q4 advice from industry experts across marketplaces, advertising, fulfillment, data insights, and brand protection? Get in touch with Pattern to learn how we can accelerate your brand.

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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