How to Get in Control of Your Brand on Ecommerce

Cassandra Shaffer

May 26, 2020

Before marketplaces like Amazon became popular, brands were largely shielded from the consequences of channel practices. Brick and mortar stores could set their prices how they wanted and control distribution without many negative impacts. With the advent of online marketplaces platforms, everything changed, and brands were presented with a slew of new challenges.

One of those challenges is loss of control over product sales online. In an October 2019 webinar, industry professionals and experts at Pattern discussed the reasons why brands lose this control and how you as a seller can take it back.

Why do merchants lose control of their brands in online marketplaces?

Unauthorized sellers

John LeBaron, Chief Revenue Officer at Pattern, said unauthorized sellers and “bad actors,” (sellers unwilling to follow the rules) have a serious impact on brand control. One brand Pattern has worked with that carries products in the electronics category had over 1,000 third-party sellers on the marketplace at one point, he said, and as a result, very minimal compliance and high costs.

“They were spending about half a million dollars a month in these types of fees back to Best Buy because of the price erosion that they were facing and the price inconsistency on Amazon,” LeBaron said.

These kinds of impacts don’t just affect brands.

“It is your distributors, your downline sellers, your resellers that are being affected by some of these bad players as well,” LeBaron said.

Denise Zmuda is the Client Success Officer at Vorys eControl, where she helps brands with overall ecommerce practice strategy. Before Vorys, Zmuda was with Zebra Technologies, which worked with traditional channel partners to provide tech solutions and products. She said unauthorized sellers affected their relationship with their partners.

“With the anonymous third-party sellers that had come onto the marketplace and were securing products from gosh knows where, they really put a lot of downward pressure on pricing for the rest of our channel ecosystem, and it became very, very difficult for our more traditional channel partners,” Zmuda said.

Zmuda said customers would price compare with third-party sellers and then ask other resellers to match them. In one case, Zebra’s partners identified unauthorized third-parties were selling below their cost.

“That was really the impetus behind me saying, ‘enough is enough’,” Zmuda said.

Lack of rules and enforcement

Zmuda said lack of parameters on who could or couldn’t sell Zebra products on marketplaces was a big reason for their loss of control. Another was with the way they enforced MAP.

Zebra products weren’t being represented well online—the pricing packages were iffy and the listings and photography were poor. This impacted the reviews of their products’ and reflected negatively on their brand.

What can brands do to regain control?

Regaining control of your brand online can feel daunting, especially when there are lots of bad actors causing problems. Zech Hintz, president of Borderless Distribution, said there are some “shockingly easy” and creative things brands can do to regain control in the short-term, however.

**Product modification and differentiation **

Hintz said Borderless Distribution was selling a restoration kit users apply to a headlight to clean it. Due to the number of unauthorized resellers selling their kit, they were unable to get control of their product, so they made it a different product.

“Simply, we added a latex glove that you use to apply the product, and that automatically takes that item and turns it into a new ASIN or listing,” Hintz said. “All of a sudden, you have this product that no one really in the market has.”

Zmuda said Zebra took this approach for their brand as well, developing unique material differences in their products.

Hintz said unauthorized sellers won’t take the time to do differentials such as bundling products, adding a polybag, or a stamp of quality, which puts you in a good place to regain control of your product.

“If you just throw a little bit of ad dollars behind that, all of a sudden you’ve got your new listing that’s outperforming the previous one, and you’re basically killing the opportunity for anyone to sell on it,” Hintz said.

Selective distribution and quality control policies

According to George Hatch, Marketplace Director at Pattern, one of the more serious steps brands may need to take to regain control of their brand online is reassess their distribution agreements and see where they can become more selective.

“Brands need to figure out how to get their arms around distribution agreements, who’s allowed to sell where and when, and really create a playbook, in essence, as to who controls how the brand rolls out and who has authorization,” Hatch said.

One of the ways Zebra regained control was to consult with a legal team and enact quality control policies that allowed them to distinguish between authorized sellers of their product and those they didn’t know anything about. Zebra also picked a single authorized third-party seller.

“I’m a firm believer that for a particular category of product, you should have one seller, otherwise right out of the gate, you’re very over-distributed and sort of competing amongst yourself by having multiple sellers on such a vertical marketplace,” Zmuda said.

Challenges you might face

Cleaning up your market space can create some challenges. You may need to have difficult conversations with channel partners and even cut them off.

“We have brands that we work with that have some of their largest distributors that were leaking product and breaking some of their agreements, and so they made the hard decision to cut them off for 90 days,” Hintz said.

Though that experience wasn’t pleasant for the brand, it cleaned up 50% of the marketplace immediately.

“It’s hard to quantify at first, because it looks like a loss, but I think when you do the math correctly, in the sense that you’re looking at the bigger picture and what you’re actually losing, a sense of eroded prices or slender markets, you’re probably going to have a bigger win,” Hintz said.

How to begin

Zmuda said one of the first steps to implement changes is educate stakeholders on what’s happening so they see the problem. Zebra worked with an expert who pulled data on their company to show them what was happening. They learned from that data that they had 250 plus sellers representing their product who they’d never heard of before or who were selling their product anonymously. From that point, they were able to proceed with regaining control.

Brands like Pattern can supply buyers with the information they need to start regaining control of their brand. This includes details like how much of the Buy Box you’re losing, who you’re losing to, which third-party unauthorized sellers are undercutting your business, and where they’re getting profit.

To learn more about how you can take back brand control, contact us through the form below.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)
Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Consultant Must-Haves

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. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

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.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

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. 

2. Proven Results

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.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

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.

4. Network of Resources

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.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

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.