What Is the Profitability Flywheel? 3 Steps to Boost Ecommerce Sales & Profit

John LeBaron

September 30, 2020

Earlier this month, we taught you about the Profitability Death Spiral, the vicious cycle brands fall into when they decide to focus on revenue at all costs. A slip into the Death Spiral starts with wide distribution and leads to businesses losing control of their brand online and watching their prices erode as bad players undercut other sellers to get ahead.

At its worst, the Profitability Death Spiral creates channel conflict that damages your relationship with other sellers, it siphons your profits, it leads to your products CRaPing out on Amazon, and it may even prompt Amazon to shut down your account. The Death Spiral is a death knell for your ecommerce business.

Price Erosion Over Time from Unauthorized Sellers on Ecommerce | Pattern

True to its name, the Profitability Death Spiral will eat into your business over and over again until actionable steps are taken to end it. The good news is there’s a strategic solution that can effectively stop the Death Spiral in its tracks and get you back on top again. We like to call it the Profitability Flywheel.

What is the Profitability Flywheel?

The Profitability Flywheel is a series of strategic maneuvers that take your ecommerce business from dysfunctional to a well-oiled machine. In our work with nearly 100 different consumer brands across myriad marketplaces, countries, and selling categories, we’ve found that focusing on three specific maneuvers—selective distribution, stabilized pricing, and seller expertise—is key to creating a Profitability Flywheel that gets you out of the Profitability Death Spiral.

Here’s where it all starts.

1. Selective distribution

Think about all of the car dealerships in your city and where they’re located. Now think about a single car brand. Let’s say Honda. Imagine what would happen if Honda put all of their dealerships on the same block instead of geographically spreading them out. For one thing, that would be an excessive amount of Hondas chilling out in the same spot, but more importantly, each dealership would be forced to compete primarily on price to get anybody to consider buying their cars.

Selective Distribution for Ecommerce to Grow Profit & Sales | Pattern

This same scenario happens on ecommerce channels every single day. Because consumers can easily compare prices across channels on their smartphones—think of ecommerce like a virtual cluster of Honda dealerships on the same block—the seller with the lowest price is the one getting the sale. The more sellers you have for your product, the more incentive there is to lower prices to stay ahead, and once a price drops in this kind of environment, the race to the top becomes a feeding frenzy where your margins are the meal. That’s how the Death Spiral starts.

The best way to avoid price-based competition is to limit your distribution on ecommerce marketplaces. Choose as few sellers as possible—the ideal is to pick just one—and make sure those sellers are committed to following your pricing policy. This will give you the control you need to stop price erosion, pull yourself out of the Death Spiral, and take back control of your brand online.

2. Stabilized pricing

Beyond limiting your distribution, another thing you can and should do to escape the Death Spiral is level the playing field with online pricing.

Set up a MAP policy and brand guidelines and make sure they’re enforced so your sellers know who’s boss. Track violators and remove them from your distribution list with the help of a legal partner if they won’t comply—even one violator can cause a lot of damage to your pricing. Data from Pattern’s Predict omnichannel ecommerce software can inform and empower you to take action on your own sellers before the problem grows out of control.

3. Seller expertise

It’s not enough to limit the distributors you work with. You also want to make sure those you do work with make caring, aligned, and intelligent partners.

When you’re selecting a distributor to partner with, be picky enough to find someone who’s as devoted to your brand’s success as you are. Look for a partner that has the expertise to double down on investments in content, advertising, customer service, and more so that your customers have a consistent, quality experience with your brand that makes them want to come back.

Selective distribution combined with seller expertise can help your brand regain lost Buy Box sales because you’re no longer competing against unauthorized sellers. You’ll also be able to offer better customer experiences that lead to higher conversion rates, better reviews, and more profitable sales that help your business grow and thrive in the long-term. That’s the key to defeating the Death Spiral: focusing on growth overtime instead of the ravenous rush for profit now.

How the Profitability Flywheel works

All of these maneuvers make up the grease that gets the Profitability Flywheel moving. Selective distribution leads to price stability. Price stability leads to leverage with retailers, and leverage with retailers leads to better brick-and-mortar performance, more control of your brand, and ultimately, investment in your customers in a way that grows your business.

How the Profitability Flywheel for Ecommerce Works to Grow Sales and Control Online | Pattern

When you have control over your brand online and limit your partnerships to sellers who bring their expertise to the table, you’re able to be more efficient in ad spend, make concentrated investments in your content and SEO customer service, own the Buy Box, and continue growing in a way that’s healthy and lasting.

That is the Profitability Flywheel, and while it isn’t the quick fix to increased revenue, it’s by and large the best fix for sustainable growth and profitability.

Profitability Flywheel success stories from Pattern brands

The Profitability Flywheel can have major impact for ecommerce brands wanting to grow revenue and increase brand control. Here are success stories from 3 Pattern brands in their own words.

INTEGRATIVE THERAPEUTICS: 39% REVENUE GROWTH IN 1 YEAR

“Prior to Pattern, we had two individuals spending a lot of time on ecommerce and not making much progress. Going to the next step of making Pattern our sole Amazon reseller was critical to achieve the control we ultimately needed and have been able to maintain. They treat our brand as if it was their own and not only empower us through data to enforce our MAP policy, but take into account every aspect of quality management, ensuring it is of the highest level. We trust them with our brand.” — Mandy Kraynik, VP of Innovation, Integrative Therapeutics

PURE ENCAPSULATIONS: 400% REVENUE GROWTH OVER 4 YEARS

“We implemented an omnichannel legal framework for distribution control, authorized reseller enforcement, and MAP policy, and consolidated our online channel to one exclusive 3P Amazon seller (Pattern) and fewer than 10 preferred non-Amazon e-retailers. Pure Encapsulations has grown 4x since 2016, and has become the #4 VMS brand overall and #1 professional brand on Amazon. MAP compliance is consistently 100% online, resulting in improved wholesale and retail margins.” — Adam Branfman, E-Business Director, Professional Brands at Atrium Innovations

SPECTRA BABY: 73% AVG. MONTHLY REVENUE INCREASE DURING 1ST YEAR

“In the beginning, we were selling directly to Amazon, which was a big mistake because then our pricing strategy went nowhere. We decided that we were going to go with a 3P company like Pattern. It wasn’t shortly after that where all the doors that we were knocking on at big box retailers took a look at Spectra because when people are looking at pricing and looking at brand, they go to Amazon first, and the stories that Pattern helped us create within our product line really helped us get to our goals.” — Chris Mayhew, Spectra Baby USA Sales Executive

Here at Pattern, we have the data and expertise to help companies regain control of their brand online. Our unique approach to ecommerce with the aid of our specialized Predict software helps brands assess where their weak spots are, create a strategy for success, and focus on profitable growth, not just revenue, so they can find sustainable expansion across ecommerce channels.

For a free, comprehensive analysis of your brand across ecommerce that can help your profitability grow, reach out at hello@pattern.com, schedule a demo below, or call us at 888-881-7576.

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Sept 6, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 6th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon announces new inventory and distribution service, AWD Amazon has launched Amazon Warehousing and Distribution (AWD), providing inventory and distribution services to its sellers as a means of addressing current supply chain issues. AWD is now available for sellers using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), i.e. outsourcing their fulfilment to the platform. Amazon has plans to expand the service outside the platform in 2023. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/02/amazon-introduces-new-service-to-help-solve-supply-chain-challenges/) Amazon Web Services (AWS) launches in the UAE AWS, Amazon’s cloud-computing platform offering, has launched its second region in the Middle East and now provides its services in the UAE. The move will now allow anyone in the UAE who utilises cloud technologies to harness AWS’s advanced platforms and APIs. An estimated $11 billion USD is expected to be added to the UAE’s GDP thanks to the implementation, with an average of 6,000 external vendor jobs to be created annually. AWS is now available in 87 zones across 27 regions, with sights set on expanding further across Australia, Canada, India, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/30/amazon-web-services-launches-region-in-uae/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Lazada to launch in Europe Alibaba-owned ecommerce platform Lazada is set to launch in Europe, marking a refreshed internationalisation push from the company. The move follows toughening economic conditions and performance in Southeast Asia, advancing the need to tap overseas markets. In Europe, Lazada will face tough competition from giants like Amazon and Zalando. Lazada’s exact entry strategy is to be confirmed and will be reliant on macroeconomic and market conditions, according to Lazada CEO James Dong. [Read more on DigitalCommerce360](https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2022/09/01/alibabas-lazada-to-take-on-amazon-zalando-in-europe-push/) Chinese ecommerce giant Pinduoduo to launch cross-border platform in the United States Pinduoduo, a Chinese ecommerce giant rivalling Alibaba and JD, has announced it will be launching a new cross-border ecommerce platform. The marketplace is set to launch in the United States next month, as part of the company’s larger push into new markets. Pinduoduo found success in China thanks to its rock-bottom price offerings and harnessing of social commerce marketing, emulating strategies similar to fast-fashion giant Shein. [Read more on Yahoo Finance](https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/pinduoduo-launch-international-e-commerce-034129263.html) Alibaba launches its biggest B2B sales event, ‘Super September’ China ecommerce giant, Alibaba, has now launched its month-long B2B sales event ‘Super September’. The event provides 40 million buyers and 200,000 suppliers with the ability to connect on the platform, showcasing a ‘virtually unlimited’ number of products. The event hopes to foster new cross-border business relationships to tackle supply chain challenges currently faced by businesses. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/01/alibaba-launches-super-september-b2b-sales-event/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Klarna’s losses quadruple in first half of 2022 BNPL provider, Klarna, has reported losses of $581 million USD for the first half of 2022. This figure is almost four times larger than a year earlier, where $129 million USD in losses were reported. The company attributes the losses to employee costs, technology investments, and rising credit losses. Klarna’s figure reporting comes amidst worsening economic conditions, fresh legal and regulatory scrutiny, and pressure from Big Tech competitors. [Read more on The Financial Times](https://www.ft.com/content/483451db-9221-4ca4-83a6-b4ddc6bfcfbb) [Read more on the Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/aug/31/klarna-losses-more-than-triple-as-consumer-spending-slows) One fifth of Snap employees to be laid off amidst poor financial performance Social media platform Snap (‘Snapchat’) has announced it will be laying off 20% of its employees and closing out a number of projects following a year of poor financial results.The move will see 1,200 employees globally lose their jobs, saving the company an estimated $500 million USD in costs. Snap is currently valued at $20 billion, an 84% decrease from its valuation of $130 billion last year. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/01/snap-to-lay-off-20-of-its-workforce-and-wind-down-a-number-of-projects/)
Aug 30, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 30th August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon set to shut down Amazon Care Amazon is closing its telehealth service, Amazon Care, which launched in 2019 as a trial program for its headquartered employees. Later the service was rolled out nationwide for employees and other companies. The ecommerce giant has now made the decision to move away from the healthcare space, believing it was not the right long-term solution for its enterprise customers. [Read more on CNBC](https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/24/amazon-is-shutting-down-amazon-care-telehealth-service.html) Peloton closes new deal to sell on Amazon Following a recent deal, Amazon customers will soon be able to buy Peloton fitness equipment on the marketplace, marking Peleton’s first move outside a direct-to-consumer model. According to Peloton’s CCO, there are already around half a million searches on Amazon for Peloton products every month, despite having no presence on the marketplace. Some key products include the original Peloton Bike, retailing for $1,445 and Peloton Guide for $295. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/24/peloton-strikes-deal-to-sell-fitness-equipment-on-amazon/) --- Other Marketplace News --- 60% of Malaysians are buying from local sellers on Shopee A recent survey of nearly 3,500 respondents found that nearly half of the shoppers prefer to purchase from local sellers due to shorter delivery times. Other shoppers decide to shop locally due to the quality of the products made in Malaysia and an interest in keeping the economy running. As a result, smaller local merchants have been able to grow their businesses, and shoppers benefit from shorter delivery times, products of high quality and supporting local businesses. [Read more on The Malaysian Reserve](https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/08/25/around-60-malaysians-are-buying-from-local-sellers-on-shopee/) Flipkart’s social commerce platform Shopsy crosses 100 million users Flipkart launched a social commerce arm, Shopsy, in July of last year, which has now surpassed 100 million users, ahead of its target timeline being the end of 2022. This acquisition of new users has made Shopsy one of the largest platforms of its kind in the country, and is expected to onboard a further 100 million by the end of 2023. The platform is centred around boosting local entrepreneurship and powering ecommerce for consumers across tier 2+ regions where users face challenges around trust and navigation when shopping online. [Read more on Business Standard](https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/flipkart-s-social-commerce-platform-shopsy-hits-100-million-users-1220828006851.html) Meta joins Amazon and Walmart in bid for Indian ecommerce market Amazon mentioned earlier in the year that it would be building a logistics division in-house through its purchase of a 51% stake in Ecom Express, an end-to-end logistics firm, to make ecommerce deliveries more efficient in the country. Walmart operates Flipkart in India and is set to continue its investment in the marketplace. In an effort to compete in the Indian ecommerce market, Meta has partnered with Indian ecommerce company, JioMart, to offer customers a grocery shopping platform within its WhatsApp chat feature. [Read more on Pymnts](https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2022/meta-joins-amazon-walmart-indian-ecommerce-market/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Ecommerce in Spain worth €57.7 billion in 2021 Spanish ecommerce saw 11.7% growth compared to last year, largely attributed to cross-border sales. In the final quarter of 2021, ecommerce sales in Spain were at €16.9 billion euros, at least 60% of which came from cross-border sales. Transactions from foreign locations to Spain generated a turnover of €1.56 billion in Q4, a growth of 27.7% compared to Q4 a year before. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/ecommerce-in-spain-was-worth-e57-7-billion-in-2021/)
Aug 23, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 23rd August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to add mental health support to primary-care service Amazon is set to move into mental health therapy with its primary-care division, following its recent acquisition deal of One Medical. The plan is to partner with virtual behavioural therapy service, Ginger, to offer its Amazon Care users with on-demand access to mental health services, licensed therapists and psychiatrists. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/11/amazon-plans-to-add-mental-health-support-to-primary-care-service/) GMB union calls for £15 an hour minimum pay at UK Amazon warehouses Amazon recently offered its warehouse workers a 3% pay rise, which in comparison to the June inflation rate of 9.4% left employees disappointed. Following this, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers stopped work last week, protesting against the minimal pay increase, seeking a minimum of £15 an hour. Recent protests consisting of employee walkouts and sit-ins aim to get a better offer out of Amazon. [Read more on The Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/aug/09/gmb-calls-for-15-an-hour-minimum-pay-at-amazon-warehouses-in-uk) Amazon third-party sellers have received their first-ever holiday fee hike Amazon’s third-party marketplaces account for close to half of the company’s online sales. The company introduced a 5% fuel and inflation charge to its third-party sellers earlier this year, and has now implemented another inflation increase charge. Commencing 14 October, any seller who uses Amazon’s fulfilment service is subject to the price hike, which is set to be an additional 35 cents per item for products sold in the US and Canada. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/17/amazon-third-party-sellers-have-received-their-first-ever-holiday-fee-hike/) Amazon puts a pause on UK grocery shop roll-out as the cost of living increases Amazon has slowed down on its UK roll-out of till-free Amazon Fresh grocery stores following disappointing sales and the rise in cost of living. Allegedly, the company is no longer looking for potential sites to expand and if more stores are opened, they will likely no longer use a till-free system, as consumers become more cautious about spending. [Read more on The Telegraph](https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/08/21/amazon-pauses-uk-grocery-shop-roll-out-following-disappointing/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopee overtakes Alibaba across international markets Shopee has surpassed Alibaba and taken the top spot for sales outside of China. Singapore-based marketplace saw a year-on-year increase of 51.4% at the end of Q2 of this year, while Alibaba saw a 3% drop during the same time period. This can be seen as a promising development for start-ups and their ability to compete with some of the largest ecommerce giants in the market. [Read more on Exchange Wire](https://www.exchangewire.com/blog/2022/08/18/shopee-surpasses-alibaba-in-international-sales-amazon-searches-for-entertainment-exec/) H&M reopens its official store to Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce platform It has been nearly 18 months since Alibaba removed H&M from its Tmall platform, following H&M’s criticism of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. It is estimated that over a million people, predominantly minorities in the area, have been unlawfully detained in camps across the city. Brands including Nike, Adidas, Burberry and Converse were swept up in the controversy, however H&M was one of the first to be targeted for speaking out about the issue. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/16/hm-returns-to-alibabas-tmall-platform-16-months-after-xinjiang-controversy/) Klarna launches new feature allowing UK consumers to view full online order history Buy-now-pay-later company, Klarna, has launched a new feature on its shopping app, which allows UK consumers to view their full online order history, regardless of whether they purchased the product using Klarna. The feature also shows delivery tracking and aids consumers in managing their online purchases more conveniently. [Read more on The Industry](https://www.theindustry.fashion/klarna-launches-new-feature-allowing-uk-consumers-to-view-full-online-order-history/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Online marketplaces responsible for £280 billion business turnover in the UK Nearly 900,000 UK businesses are currently selling on online marketplaces, generating an estimated £282 billion worth of sales each year. This figure represents 6% of the UK’s annual business turnover, highlighting the notable contribution that marketplaces make to the UK economy, along with the potential for further growth in this area. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/08/09/online-marketplaces-responsible-for-280-billion-business-turnover-in-uk/)