What is the Amazon Profitability Death Spiral?

Burke Alder

May 13, 2022

Have you ever seen your products priced on Amazon or other digital marketplaces below your desired selling amount or below MAP (Minimum Advertised Price)? This can really be frustrating, and even worse hurt your brand equity, sales, and profits.

Watching the price of your product decrease on Amazon is one of the first signs that you are on or flirting with the profitability death spiral.

The Profitability Death Spiral

Here is an image of The Profitability Death Spiral.

As we show this image to brand CEOs, VPs of Sales, and their ecommerce teams managing Amazon, they all agree about one thing—stay clear of the death spiral. And if you get on it, it takes a lot of hard work to get out of it.

The Profitability Death Spiral - with Title

Step by Step Process of The Profitability Death Spiral


  1. Amazon revenue takes off
  2. 3P (Third-party) sellers flock to the Amazon
  3. Competition amongst the sellers drives down pricing
  4. Lost buy box ensues
  5. Brick & mortar match online prices
  6. Retail profits erode
  7. Amazon profits erode
  8. All channels are less profitable

Deeper Dive on How the Profitability Death Spiral Happens

Let’s dive a little deeper into why the profitability death happens. And if you're already feeling the stress from being on the death spiral, don’t go into the depths of despair. There’s a way out.

Step 1: Amazon Revenue Takes Off

The first step is likely a big celebration as you watch your Amazon sales grow faster and faster each year. Your distribution sales go up and your Amazon sales go up. Everything is good right? Yes—unless you don’t have control of how your distribution may be impacting your brand on Amazon. This rapid growth might be setting you up for the second step in the death spiral.

Step 2: Third-Party Sellers Flock to the Amazon

The second step of the death spiral is when third-party sellers buy your product at discounted prices and start to sell your product on Amazon. As we talk to brands, they tell us story after story about how a third-party seller is wrecking their product listing, reviews, and price on Amazon.

Step 3: Competition Amongst the Sellers Drives Down Pricing

As more sellers show up on your Amazon listings, it creates competition as the sellers battle for the Amazon buy box by lowering your price. If this trend doesn’t get under control quickly you could find your product at a stage where you can’t realize a profit on Amazon.

Step 4: Lost Buy Box Ensues

You finally lose the buy box and a third-party seller starts selling your product below the price. This can start a tailspin to the bottom. And this can happen on 1P or even 3P selling strategies on Amazon.

Step 5: Brick & Mortar Match Online Prices

As you lose control of your pricing on Amazon, it starts to impact your brick and mortar sales and profits. You start to see lower prices online then prices in your brick and mortar (retail) channels. You start to get retail complaints and may even risk shelf space.

Step 6: Retail Profits Erode

You start to see your retail profits erode as your retailers require price matching guarantees, buybacks, and other concessions. With Amazon being out of control, you start to start to erode your retail profits. This is super painful for brands!

Step 7: Amazon Profits Erode

Of course as this death spiral is happening, you also see that your Amazon profits have now also eroded. Because Amazon is coming back to you and asking for prices that really aren’t profitable any more. You are getting closer and closer to having your product CRaP (can’t realize a profit on Amazon) out.

Step 8: All Channels are Less Profitable

Before you know it, you are at the bottom of the death spiral and all channels are less profitable than when you first started. What to do next?

Don’t Despair, Take Action to Get Out of the Death Spiral

If you find your brand on one of the steps of The Profitability Death Spiral, don’t despair. You can take action now.

At Pattern, we help brands get in control and out of the death spiral. Just click below to schedule a free consultation and get back in control. You got this and together we got this!

Get Out of the Death Spiral - Schedule Meeting

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Aug 18, 2022

Ecommerce Innovators Podcast - Covering a New Category

Join us for Ecommerce Innovators, a podcast that brings together the brightest minds in the industry to explore innovative strategies and trends in global ecommerce. We'll analyze what top brands are doing to accelerate their online success and you’ll hear from top executives who are changing the game for their organizations. Our host is John LeBaron, Chief Revenue Officer at Pattern—the premier partner for global ecommerce acceleration.

Listen on Spotify

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In this conversation withWylie Robinson, CEO and Co-Founder of Rumpl, he talks about growth and innovation. Hear about Rumpl’s evolution since its Kickstarter campaign, valuable advice on starting a new company, key digital strategies, diversifying the product, and Rumpl’s challenges and collaborations.

Ecommerce Innovators Episode Synopsis

Here are 3 takeaways from our conversation with Wylie Robinson:

Introduce an emotional connection to your customer. Wylie shared one way Rumpl stays ahead of its competition is by using emotions. How many blankets do you have in your household? Some people say around 10-15 blankets. Can you name the brands of your blankets? Most people can only name a handful of brands, if any. For Rumpl, emotional connection is the company’s secret sauce. They create emotional connection through partnerships, great storytelling, and investing in the brand.

Innovation brings challenges. A few years ago, Rumpl rolled out a brand new product line made of recycled materials. Upon release, there were huge issues with old products, pricing, etc. For almost six months, Rumpl didn’t even move their new products to the market. When innovating, don’t be discouraged if challenges arise. You aren’t alone!

Pay attention to reviews. When Rumpl launched, they thought that the original puffy blanket would be purchased mainly outside. Through reviews, Wylie learned most people actually snuggle up with their blankets at home on the couch. This was a great learning for Rumpl, and helped them understand their customers. Reviews are a great tool to gather data and receive feedback about your products.

Listen to the full episode for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Aug 16, 2022

Amazon Revenue Scorecard: The Data Brands Need to Succeed on Amazon

How do you rank on Amazon?  Find out now.

For far too long, brands have lacked a data-driven methodology to gauge the health of their ecommerce presence relative to their competitors.  As the top ecommerce accelerator, Pattern knew its proprietary technology and data could solve this for brands, so we leveraged our AI, rich Amazon seller information, and millions of cross-category data-driven insights to provide all brands with the information they need to succeed on Amazon and beyond.

The result—the Amazon Revenue Scorecard.  The scorecard provides a powerful way for leaders to simply and transparently assess how their ecommerce strategies are performing relative to their competition and where they can optimize to maximize their brand’s ecommerce revenue potential.

What an Amazon Revenue Scorecard Measures

The Amazon Revenue Scorecard was developed by Pattern’s data scientists to holistically measure the ecommerce performance of a brand’s top products across three key drivers—traffic, conversion, and price—and 18 dimensions that impact a brand’s ecommerce revenue growth. The result is a score from 1-10 that helps brands in an ever-increasing array of industries measure their performance relative to their competitors.  Strategically, an Amazon Revenue Scorecard is a rating index that provides real-time data to highlight missed revenue growth opportunities.

Why an Amazon Revenue Scorecard Matters to Executives

An Amazon Revenue Scorecard analyzes your top 25 ASINs to identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in revenue growth potential on ecommerce marketplaces. With a rank score of 1-10 in each revenue performance metric, it helps you understand the full picture—identify problem areas quickly and lean in on strengths. The higher the score, the more revenue you’ll generate on an ecommerce marketplace.

The key levers in the score are traffic, conversion, and price, which are the key variables in the ecommerce equation for all brands. As the top ecommerce accelerator, Pattern knows that the ecommerce equation (traffic x conversion x availability x price = revenue) is essential for brands to succeed on ecommerce. Therefore, it is imperative that brands continue to monitor the health of each input in order to have long term success.

Here we breakdown the three key drivers of a brand’s scorecard:

Traffic: Evaluate Marketplace Ecommerce Traffic

Traffic is the first strategic lever to drive revenue on marketplaces. Without generating more ecommerce traffic to your listings, you don’t have a hope of increasing marketplace revenue. A traffic score breaks down and rates your ecommerce traffic in the following key areas:

  • Paid Traffic — the effectiveness of a brand’s advertising efforts, including keyword strategy, ad programs, and ad tactics

  • Organic Traffic — how well a brand is capturing organic traffic within its category

  • Marketplace Coverage — how many global marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Walmart, etc.) a brand’s products are being sold in

Conversion: Calculate Conversion Opportunities on Marketplaces

Conversion is the second strategic lever to drive revenue on marketplaces. Once potential buyers interact with your product, they have to be compelled to convert on the listing. The conversion score breaks down and rates your marketplace conversion into five key areas:

  • Listing Titles, Bullets, and Description — the degree to which a brand is utilizing best practices for titles, bullet points, and descriptions

  • Listing Images and Videos — how well a brand is using high-quality and optimized multimedia to convey product features and benefits

  • Content — how well a brand is conveying its voice and branding across the marketplace

  • Ratings & Reviews — how well a brand’s products are being accepted by marketplace shoppers according to ratings and reviews

  • Competitiveness — the degree to which a brand effectively utilizes promotional elements on its product pages

Price: Monitor Price Across Marketplaces and Sellers

Pricing is the third strategic lever to drive revenue on marketplaces. Without consistent pricing across marketplaces and sellers, your profits will steadily erode and you’ll have a hard time winning the Buy Box on Amazon and other marketplaces. The price score breaks down and rates your ecommerce price into four key areas:

  • Channel Conflict — the likelihood that an online marketplace will undercut a brand’s brick and mortar retail partners on other platforms and channels

  • Number of Sellers— the number of unique entities selling a brand’s products on a given marketplace

  • Product Compliance — a measure of the stability of the price of a brand’s products on a given marketplace

  • Cross-Channel Consistency — an assessment of the price consistency of a brand’s products across ecommerce marketplaces and D2C websites

Don’t leave your share of the global ecommerce market to chance—analyze ASIN and competitor performance now.

Pattern Helps Brand Accelerate Beyond Competitors on Amazon and Other Ecommerce Marketplaces

The Amazon Revenue Scorecard has been an integral and exclusive part of Pattern’s offering to its partners and is now available for all brands to assess their success on ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon. The standard is a measurement of the key drivers that impact revenue growth and it matters to brands since you need to see where your missed opportunities are and where your competition is outranking you.

Pattern can break down your brand’s revenue score on Amazon so you can command the maximum share of the exploding $6 trillion ecommerce market. 

Executives interested in receiving your brand’s Scorecard can do so here.

Surprised by your score?  Contact Pattern today and we will dive into the data.

Aug 11, 2022

How Amazon Sponsored Products Boost Brand Revenue

If you’re looking to improve your performance on Amazon, honing in on your ad strategy is one of the best ways to start getting your products in front of more eyes and increasing sales. Because they’re disguised as traditional products within search, Sponsored Product ads should be the cornerstone of your Amazon ad strategy. They’re able to capture consumers’ eyes in more organic ways to drive traffic, and, ultimately, revenue growth, for your brand on Amazon.

Traffic is a key component of Pattern’s ecommerce equation: revenue: traffic x conversion x price x availability. When you can optimize your strategy to get more of the right traffic to your listings, you’ll be able to spend on initiatives like ad strategies in a smarter way to drive better product performance on Amazon.

Here’s why Sponsored Ads, in particular, are a great move for any brand selling on Amazon:

Improve Organic Rank Over Time

Many brands hesitate to invest in Amazon ads like Sponsored Products, preferring to increase product rank organically instead of worrying about paying a long-term cost. We know, from our vast experience accelerating brands on the platform, that Amazon wants to promote and boost high performers. So, to get more traffic, drive revenue, and spend your ad dollars in a smart way, you’ll need to “show” Amazon’s algorithm that your product is worth promoting in the first place. 

Pattern’s ad strategy takes a particularly deliberate approach to tracking and feeding this virtuous cycle. Your listings’ success in conquesting each keyword leads to more growth, lower costs, and better listing rank over time—as your Sponsored Products get higher traffic and perform better over time, you’ll start rising in rank over your competitors and be able to reduce your overall spend on ad placements. As your brand continues to win conquests over your competitors, you’ll get even more traffic, and the cycle continues.

Give You a High ROI

When executed correctly, Sponsored Ads on Amazon are one of the smartest and most cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your product listings. For a snapshot of the value, here’s how Amazon ads compare to Google

  • Amazon ads return an average of 10% conversion, as opposed to Google ads, which convert at 3.75%

  • 54% of product searches happen on Amazon now, rather than Google.

  • The cost-per-click (CPC) is significantly lower for Amazon ads—$0.96, as opposed to $2.69 for Google’s display ads.

What this tells us is that spending money advertising on Amazon, rather than on Google or other channels, has a twofold benefit: products are more likely to get in front of consumers who are in the mindset to buy, and you’re able to save on your overall ad costs by getting more bang for your buck with every click.

Capture Top Search Area

Sponsored products are taking up more and more real estate on Amazon’s search results. You can see as many as four sponsored listings before the top organic results for any given search, giving brands without an ad strategy a significant disadvantage in winning consumer attention.

Our teams have learned that 80% of sales go to listings with the highest placement on search, and it’s a key aspect of our Sponsored Products strategy for brands. Advertising the right amount on top of search placements is a balancing act to make sure you're leaning in the right amount to maximize results. If your organic listings aren’t already primed and fully optimized for top keywords your consumers are searching with, Sponsored Product ads should be at the top of your list for strategies to win their eyes and traffic to your listings. 

Because they show up at both the top of search and rest of search, they can get the attention of your best audience—consumers searching for products like yours with the intent to purchase now.

Win Traffic from Competitor Listings

Sponsored Product ads can also appear on the listings of products related to yours—in other words, your competition. As a consumer scrolls through a listing and isn’t finding what they’re looking for, you can be poised in a perfect position to capture their interest and bring them to your listing instead.

This traffic is particularly valuable—besides being ready to buy and actively looking for a product like yours, these consumers have the potential to switch brand loyalty from your competitor to you. 

Optimize Product Listing Traffic with Pattern

Building an effective Amazon ad strategy can be a daunting task for many brands, but it doesn’t have to be. By partnering with an ecommerce accelerator like Pattern, you can get the full benefit of true Amazon expertise without having to learn and do it alone. We have all the global resources brands need to succeed, including expert teams and proprietary technology. We help you drive the right traffic to your listings, at the right time, to improve your revenue and performance on Amazon.

Find out how Pattern can help you grow your traffic and revenue on Amazon. Schedule a call here.