Crack out those pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters, and get cozy. October has been a bustling month for ecommerce, and we’re looking back at some of the biggest online shopping events and stories from the month and what they mean for the future of ecommerce. Let’s talk about it.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: omnichannel matters, now more than ever. More and more brands are shifting their strategy to a seamless experience between their brick-and-mortar stores and their ecommerce shops, and this month we’ve seen some of the biggest players in the retail space making big moves toward full integration.
Last month we reported that Walmart had teamed up with Microsoft in the bidding war to acquire TikTok. Currently, the TikTok deal is in limbo, but that hasn’t stopped Walmart from cranking up the heat in other branches of their omnichannel business, namely advertising.
This month Reuters reported that the retail giant has been aggressively expanding its advertising business and “making better use of its wealth of shopper data” by linking promotions from the Walmart website and app to ads within its 4,700 U.S. stores.
Walmart took their advertising business in-house last year under the name Walmart Media Group, and they continue to bridge the gap between their offline and online data as they develop an ad platform that can rival Amazon’s. According to company insiders, Walmart’s new ad strategy is paying off—Walmart Media Group is on track to earn nearly $1 billion of advertising sales this year, which is more than double that of last year.
Walmart is also putting in the work to expand their ecommerce presence by improving sellers’ experiences on their Marketplace platform. Walmart recently launched a Pro Seller badge that highlights and rewards top-performing sellers on their Marketplace (it’s similar to a “verified” badge on Facebook and Instagram or eBay’s “Top Rated Seller” status) and appears in search results, product pages, and the shopping cart.
The Pro Seller badge is an attempt to increase conversions for sellers who earn it and incentivize other sellers to work towards it. Pro Seller badges are given to sellers with a high on-time delivery rate, low cancellation rate, high quality listings, free online and in-store returns, and consistent compliance with Marketplace policies. So far, 250 sellers out of Walmart Marketplace’s 60,000 have earned a Pro Seller badge.
Another company making a big omnichannel play is the ecommerce platform Alibaba. Alibaba announced this month that it will invest $3.6 billion in Sun Art Retail Group, a huge hypermarket and supermarket in China that also happens to be the country’s biggest retailer. This transaction will give Alibaba a 72% controlling interest in the brick-and-mortar company and further their New Retail strategy of integrating online and offline in China.
According to Euromonitor International, Sun Art held a 14.1% share of China’s hypermarket sales last year. Compare that to Walmart’s 10.3% market share in that category.
The owners of milk’s favorite cookie are also shifting their advertising into the omnichannel space, a fairly new move for the snack company. Mondelez announced that for the first time ever, the company will be spending the majority of their advertising budget on digital channels instead of TV commercials, a move that showcases how important an omnichannel presence has become to established brands used to traditional mediums.
After months of postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s Amazon Prime Day finally came and went on October 13th-14th. In the five years since its inception, this ecommerce holiday has proven that it isn’t going anywhere. That said, Prime Day 2020 has been an outlier compared to previous years.
Although this year’s event is said to be Amazon’s biggest Prime Day yet, the company’s post-event messaging is more focused on the results for small businesses.
Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer, said in an October 15th release, "We are thrilled that Prime Day was a record-breaking event for small and medium businesses worldwide, with sales surpassing $3.5 billion—an increase of nearly 60% from last year.”
Estimates put total Amazon sales during the two-day event at $10 billion, and according to MarketplacePulse, the company’s retail sales during the event were approximately $6.5 billion.
Despite the company’s focus on small and medium-sized businesses, more Prime Day sales on the site went towards Amazon-owned products this year. The platform featured deep discounts on devices like their Amazon Echo and Fire TV, and those naturally captured the most attention and sales.
While Prime Day was happening, some of the largest retailers in the U.S. experienced YOY foot traffic losses. Amazon’s grocery arm Whole Foods saw foot traffic fall 32.1% during the event while Walmart’s traffic was down by 19.1% and Target’s traffic was 15.1% lower than last year. Best Buy fared the best of the bunch with a fall of 11.6% YOY. It’s important to note this drop was expected, as retailers had little time to prepare for an offline sales event after Prime Day was announced.
Prime Day’s postponement followed a spring of logistical nightmares for Amazon after consumers in Covid-19 lockdown turned to ecommerce en masse for their shopping needs. While Amazon was able to iron out much of those issues before their Prime Day event, this year has presented several other obstacles that may have impacted the outcome.
One of the biggest is that shoppers are in a pandemic induced recession that’s influencing much of their buying power and habits. Covid-19 has also created a myriad of shipping limits across 1P and 3P sellers on the site. With short notice ahead of the event’s announced October dates and plenty of noise already in the online space ahead of a heated presidential election, many consumers weren’t aware the event was happening, which may have impacted overall sales.
2020 has certainly proven to be an unprecedented year, and the ecommerce space is no exception. We’d recommend brands looking for data to prepare for next year’s Prime Day event look at 2019 rather than 2020 for better comparison.
Because of its late dates, this year’s Prime Day event kicked off an early holiday shopping period, with holiday promos starting two days after the event. Post-Prime Day sales are also higher because of a pre-holiday ramp up, and shipping companies are telling retailers and shoppers to prepare early for what could be a record-breaking holiday season.
Bonnie Voldeng, vice president of FedEx Freight Direct, encouraged everyone planning to do holiday shopping this year to “shop and ship early. The earlier the better.” FedEx, like other parcel carriers, has seen an elevated package volume due to the pandemic. Average daily volume at FedEx Ground increased by 31% last quarter and numbers are high across the board.
One thing we recommend going into the holiday season this year is that brands have a 3P drop shipper to ensure their products get where they need to when they need to and in time for the holidays. Read our holiday analysis on Amazon categories most likely to experience stockouts here to learn more.
Pattern analyzes industry trends to help brands navigate the ecommerce space with the data and strategy they need to succeed. To learn about how Pattern can help your ecommerce business thrive, contact us below.
Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.
If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.
Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.
At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead.
An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.
A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:
Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance.
Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS.
To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.
A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.
It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.
Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins.
Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.
As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.
Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.