The Acceleration Framework: 5 Pillars for Growth

John LeBaron

October 6, 2021

To say ecommerce is a big opportunity for brands is an understatement. Ecommerce is on pace to do $6 trillion in sales in 2024, and $7 trillion by 2025. Not only is is the global indstury growing, currently about 18% of all retail sales in the U.S. go through ecommerce, making the local industry just as appealing.

But thriving on ecommerce isn’t as simple as it seems—and not nearly simple enough for a small ecommerce team to handle on its own. Even if your team can handle your direct-to-consumer website, it quickly becomes a mammoth task to successfully expand to additional marketplaces, languages, and countries.

The tasks of handling shipping and returns, managing website plugins and marketplace platforms, maintaining high-quality listings, ensuring consistent prices across channels, and preserving your brand image quickly become complicated and overwhelming. Your ecommerce team is likely left to wonder where and how to best spend their limited time and resources.

At Pattern, we believe brands can more simply and easily attain ecommerce success by focusing on five core competencies: insights, traffic, conversion, price, and logistics. We’ve found that as brands focus their efforts on excelling in these competencies, they drive profitable, tangible growth for their companies.

To simplify this process for as many brands as possible, we’ve carefully crafted an ecommerce acceleration platform to help brands master the competencies and harness their full ecommerce potential. This platform includes software built around each key competency layered with expert services. The best part? We don’t charge for this platform.

Read on to learn Pattern’s role as an accelerator and take a deep dive into each core competency.

What is an ecommerce accelerator?

In the last year, ecommerce has seen the rise of ecommerce aggregators. Aggregators buy Amazon businesses and sellers, either to continue selling the products on their own or to eventually sell the companies for a profit. Thrasio is the leader of this movement.

At Pattern, we consider ourselves ecommerce accelerators. Unlike aggregators, we’re not here to buy your business and make a profit on it. We’re here to help you accelerate your own brand’s sales and growth. And we’re the first ecommerce accelerator with a dedicated acceleration platform to make that process as effective as possible.

Our acceleration results speak for themselves. Pattern partner Pure Encapsulations has seen a sales growth of 513% over 4 years of working with Pattern. Pandora Jewelry’s growth has accelerated by 300%. Owlet has seen 300% revenue growth and decreased unauthorized sellers with 95% compliance. Simply put, we specialize in accelerating brands like yours.

The five core competencies of acceleration

Our acceleration platform is built on five core competencies that, when mastered, accelerate brands into ecommerce success.

Insights

Insights refers to monitoring data about your brand’s performance on ecommerce. This includes data about your brand’s revenue, market share, traffic, ad results, customer satisfaction, and more. It’s crucial to accurately track this data in real-time to know what’s working well for your brand and where you need to improve. Doing so will help you anticipate consumer needs based on historical activity, spot information disconnects from abandoned carts and high bounce rates, and learn about your target audience.

Although it sounds like a given to know, for example, your brand’s revenue across channels, it’s not uncommon for brands to lose visibility when selling on multiple channels. If your brand sells product to a distributor who then sells your product on Amazon, you may quickly begin to lose track of your data. The distributor may be selling some of your product on Amazon, some in a brick-and-mortar store, and some on other ecommerce marketplaces.

At Pattern, we know how frustrating this can be. Our software gives brands access to all the data available about their products and brand, making it clear and easy to know where your brand is thriving, how you’re faring against your competitors, and where you can make improvements to maximize profit.

Apart from tracking your brand’s metrics, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of the entire market in which you compete. To truly dominate the insights core competency, you must also have a real-time understanding of category and competitive trends. Our proprietary software makes this simple.

Traffic

It’s impossible to make sales if you’re not getting traffic on your listings, which makes traffic the second core competency brands should prioritize. This includes maximizing your paid advertising and unpaid SEO opportunities to improve your search rank.

Paid advertising gives your leads visibility and helps you rank in the keywords that are most frequently searched by your target audience. Utilizing best SEO practices is a free way to boost your organic search rank, which in turn creates a growth loop—as your product ranks higher, it receives more traffic, and as it receives more traffic, algorithms will see it as popular and increase or maintain its high organic rank.

Your marketplace coverage is another aspect to consider. If you want to drive more traffic to your product listings, you may consider expanding to additional marketplaces like Walmart, Tmall, and Mercado Libre.

With Pattern’s ecommerce acceleration platform, we increase your brand’s traffic by automating advertising, optimizing product listings for SEO, and increasing your return on ad spend.

Conversion

Once you’ve driven traffic to your listing, the next step is to convert that traffic into purchases. Creating a stellar product listing page is one of the most effective ways to turn browsing shoppers into customers. High quality content, detailed product descriptions, and consistent branding can all increase your brand’s conversion rates.

A good rule of thumb is to maximize every possible opportunity for high-quality content. Fill every image slot in your stack with professional, lifestyle-led photos. Utilize tools like Enhanced Brand Content, listing video, and sponsored brand video. Fill your product descriptions with simple, optimized content that answers common consumer questions. Do everything you can to improve customer experience to generate a high rating and positive reviews.

When discussing conversion, it’s also important to take a look at your brand’s competitiveness, starting with your product price, which we’ll discuss further below. Tools like coupons, bundles, and rebates can also push consumers to click “add to cart.”

Significant channel conflict can negatively influence your conversion rates. Is your product being sold across different marketplaces for different prices? Do you have more than a handful of vendors selling your product on each marketplace? Do you struggle with product compliance in terms of imagery and inventory? Are your images inconsistent across marketplaces? If you answered yes to any of those questions, your brand is at risk for channel conflict and the resulting hit to your conversion rates.

Our Predict software, alongside the expertise of highly-qualified marketing professionals, will help your brand boost conversion by optimizing content, building brand credibility, and maintaining omnichannel brand consistency.

Price

It takes significant market research and financial analysis to price your product both competitively and profitably.

Once you’ve set the ideal price for your product, you need to maintain a consistent price for your product across all sellers and marketplaces. Tracking and enforcing Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) can make the difference between sustainment and acceleration. A key element of this process is removing unauthorized sellers, who often sell your product for below MAP and thus pressure other sellers to do the same.

Stabilizing pricing, both through eliminating unauthorized sellers and keeping prices consistent over time, will help your brand win the Buy Box more consistently, giving you more conversions and more profit.

Pattern’s ecommerce acceleration platform can help your brand consistently win the Buy Box, decrease MAP violators, and stabilize pricing.

Logistics

The final core competency brands need to master to achieve ecommerce acceleration is logistics. When it comes to logistics, brands should aim to be efficient with fulfillment, returns, forecasting, and managing other third party sellers.

Relying on an exclusive seller is a solid strategy to help you more efficiently manage your logistics. Exclusive sellers often allow you to ship your product much more quickly than you would be able to on your own, helping you compete with other products with lightning fast shipping. This model can also help brands with limited warehouse space.

Customer support and experience also fall under the logistics umbrella. When you quickly respond to customer inquiries and make returns quick and painless, you’re likely to enjoy better loyalty and retention, more positive ratings and reviews, and an improved brand reputation.

Pattern’s acceleration framework ensures your product will always be in stock, helps you expand your fulfillment capabilities, and reduces your shipping costs. While we help brands master the first four competencies with a software called Predict, we rely on a warehouse management software called Shelf for logistics and distribution. Predict also facilitates and manages cross-docking—after receiving a product shipment, we relabel and package every product before sending it to one of Amazon’s 106 different facilities.

How will your brand accelerate?

Working with Pattern is like clicking the “easy” button for ecommerce. Our software and expert services fill the gaps that short-staffed ecommerce teams can’t quite reach, helping you maximize your potential (and profit) on ecommerce. Our ecommerce acceleration platform is the first of its kind, and your brand can access it at no extra cost to you. Interested in learning more? Get your demo today to get started.

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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