Why You Should Care About Brand Control as an Investor

John LeBaron

June 22, 2020

As an investor for an ecommerce brand, your topline is at the top of your mind. You want your investment to flourish and pay rich dividends, so you may reasonably approach it with a growth-first strategy, funneling in ad dollars and watching sales closely.

While growth is an important focus, there are some negative implications of having a growth-first strategy. Your brand might be losing control online while your back is turned, and without regaining that control, the positives of growth can quickly be negated, wasting your money and harming your brand.

In order to both grow your investment and help your brand thrive, brand control should be on your radar.

It starts with viewing Amazon and ecommerce through the right lens.

Caring about brand control begins with understanding the full impact of Amazon. Scott Chandler, Head of Partnerships at Pattern, said most peoples’ understanding of Amazon is fairly limited, including investors’.

“In their mind, without the full context, Amazon is just analogous to any other sales channel,” Chandler said. “In any other sales channel, they walk in and they’re like, ‘Hey, do you want to buy our product and negotiate on a whole sale price,’ and they’re done. Maybe in some retail cases, they have to negotiate shelf space and a few other things.”

Amazon, in contrast, is a whole different ball game, one with different rules and damaging penalties for slipping up. Unlike other channels, Amazon creates visibility that can shine light on all of your transgressions for your customers and other distributors to see.

“Everyone kind of gets a sense of what your profitability is or if you’re overinflating your margins. Do you cut one deal with one channel and . . . a different deal with another?” Chandler said.

Using Amazon listings and pricing as a reference for the rest of the market, consumers can easily determine if your brand is one they can trust or one they should avoid.

“It’s more than just a sales channel, because it has a spillover effect into all of your other business,” Chandler said.

Lack of brand control hurts brands on and off ecommerce.

When unauthorized sellers list a brand’s product for cheap and erode pricing, and when third-party sellers poorly represent brands with their Amazon listings, it’s a result of little to no control, and it doesn’t just impact the way a brand is perceived across channels, but it hurts a brand’s relationships with other sellers, including brick-and-mortar sellers.

If an investor wants to sell their product through a retailer like Target, but buyers are using Amazon data against them, Target may look at that and lose interest in stocking the product on their shelves, Chandler said. Furthermore, vendors that can’t sell a brand’s product because grey market sellers are undercutting them on price won’t want to work with that brand either.

Another thing lack of brand control can do to you as an investor is render any money you spend on advertising almost worthless. Chandler explains.

“Let’s say I’m an investor and I want to throw money at advertising and try to grow it. Well, it’s kind of like a blind auction behind the scenes of who owns the Buy Box. Who owns the Buy Box is generally whoever has the lowest price, so me as an investor, do I want to throw advertising dollars knowing that that sale would likely get attributed to the person who’s creating my biggest problems? It’s a disincentive to actually advertise and grow, because it’s fueling the flywheel of the problem here.”

Until you remove the problem, get your pricing back to where you want it to be, and regain control, Chandler said, “It’s probably not a good idea to exacerbate the problem with a bunch of ad spend.”

Proper brand control can help you win on ecommerce.

“Proper control allows you to have wins or win across all channels as opposed to winning in one, but having that then hurt you somewhere else,” Chandler said.

Proper brand control on ecommerce can help you demonstrate that you’re clean and your strategy is retailer friendly. It can help you hold on to a couple points of margin in your negotiation and protect your brand from harmful players. It can also help your brand to not only grow but thrive.

One brand in particular that has found big wins after regaining control is Pure Encapsulations, a company that sells dietary supplements. According to Chandler, Pure was selling a supplement product to practitioners solely through doctor’s offices, but soon practitioners stopped buying the product from those offices because it was being sold at a significant discount on Amazon by grey-market distributors. Pure learned that some of the doctors who had been purchasing the product were reselling it without authorization, putting their entire business model at risk.

Pure came to Pattern asking for help cleaning up their account. Within months, Pattern helped Pure remove 215 unauthorized sellers, increase MAP compliance to 98%, and give them the peace of mind to again focus on growth. According to Chandler, they’ll make over $100 million in sales in 2020.

Paying close attention to brand control has particular payoffs for you as an investor while you’re in a partnership with an ecommerce company and on your way out.

“All this rolls up into a nice exit strategy that you can use in your negotiations on evaluation with the company,” Chandler said.

It gives those who follow you a win instead of a mess.

So what can investors do to ensure the brands they invest in have control on Amazon?

Before partnering with a brand, Chandler said investors should evaluate that brand’s Amazon presence to see how much cleanup, if any, will need to be done. You should look at things like how many dollars a brand has, and are they selling directly to Amazon or going through a third-party strategy?

Another thing to look at is a brand’s policies.

“If I were an investor, I think I’d want to review what their MAP policies are. Do they have MAP policies? Do those MAP policies contain ecommerce verbiage and then are they enforcing against it?” Chandler said.

Investors should know if a brand knows which unauthorized sellers are moving their product online and what they’re doing about it. If there are significant control or distribution problems, investors should be proactive and step in.

“I think I would sit down with their executive team and say, ‘How willing are you to cut off a good retail customer who could be creating these problems for you on Amazon?’” Chandler said.

Software like Pattern’s Predict software can help your brand see detailed data about where and how extensive the problem is so they can move forward in preventing it.

To learn more about brand control and strategies to regain it for your brand, contact Pattern through the form below.

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Global Ecommerce: Weekly News (6th September 2022)
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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/)

Global Ecommerce: Weekly News (30th August 2022)
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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/)

Global Ecommerce: Weekly News (23rd August 2022)
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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/)