After pushing through the Black Friday blitz you may think your brand is set for the year, but are you watching your brand protection through the full holiday season? The increased shopper traffic and excess of sales make this time of year extra enticing for devious ecommerce activity.
Roll call: Do you know what your brand is actively doing to ensure MAP compliance across marketplaces? What about leaking distribution—do you know exactly who is getting access to your product and how they are getting it? And how is your brand being represented online—are your product images high-quality, in-line with your style guide, and do they portray your brand vision?
Brand protection comes from safeguarding your product, pricing, and branding against sneaky ecommerce schemes that are, unfortunately, heightened during the holidays.
The plethora of deep discounts on quality products combined with the influx of holiday traffic create a goldmine for shady sellers. And thanks to internal pressure to have record-breaking sales and the hard reality that most ecommerce teams are running lean, these shady sellers can sneak in through your record-breaking numbers and wreak havoc on your brand.
For example, unauthorized sellers looking to make an easy profit can 1. buy-up your discounted inventory at your reduced, holiday-sale price, 2. hold the inventory until the sales have passed and prices return to normal, and then 3. list your product at a slight discount from your normal price and 4. steal your sales.
Shoppers are always hunting for the best deal, and if they see the same product for a lower price they will almost always opt to save a few dollars, not thinking about the who or why behind the discount. These unauthorized prices can lose your brand the buy box, halting your advertising abilities, and giving away your sales and profits.
Without brand control during the holiday shopping frenzy, there are 3 main facets of business that can be impacted for months to come—price control, future discounts, and listing consistency.
Your products are strategically priced based on competitive research, production cost, and a fair valuation, but unauthorized sellers are choosing a price based purely on profitability. By listing your product at a lower price they can erode consumer trust in the worth of your product, undermining your brand reputation and setting incorrect expectations for future purchase prices.
Unfortunately, not having brand protection during the holidays doesn’t just affect your brand during the cold months, the cold front can continue throughout the entire year as unauthorized sellers continue to undercut you and your authorized sellers.
But there’s more—by listing your product below MAP policy, unauthorized sellers damage your relationship with other distributors. Without control of the lowest available price, other distributors will be forced to lower their prices to compete. Then those distributors may have a hard time making a profit and can eventually choose to stop carrying your product altogether.
Bad actors love the craziness of the holidays, because it allows them to fly under the radar. Not protecting your brand during this crucial time can mean dealing with the consequences for months going forward, and may even hurt you in the next holiday shopping season.
Not only are your regular prices hurt, your plans for future promotions are also down the toilet. On Amazon, for instance, there are often minimum-discount policies when you want to run a deal—the catch is that the minimum discount is based on the lowest listed price for your product within the last 90 days. This is the lowest listed price from any seller—not just you.
This means that if an unauthorized seller lists your product for $75 when you normally list it for $100, and you want to run a 10% off deal, Amazon will expect your price to be 10% off of $75, not 10% off of $100. This forces your brand to run a promotion for a price of $67.50 instead of the anticipated $90. And even if you get the unauthorized seller removed, you’ll still have to wait out the set time period before you can run discounts your way.
Another way future promotions can be upset is by undercutting the promotions themselves. If the unauthorized seller holds the inventory until the next holiday season and takes advantage of the Turkey 5 frenzy, all of the hard work that went into designing promotions, procedures, and product listings can be ruined. Without protection your brand may lose the entire weekend to unauthorized sellers at unauthorized prices.
Not only can the unauthorized seller steal the buy box with their lower price, they can also mess with your hard planned branding. By selling the same product they will share your Amazon listing and can submit changes to your image stack, product description, and even listing title.
So if an authorized seller is sitting on inventory they want to get rid of, they could change your polished, on-brand title to a click-bait, unprofessional headline to help their endgame. And don’t get us started on the unsavory images they might add to offload your product. Listing control is another way shady sellers can hurt your brand reputation, but tools like Amazon Brand Registry can help you fight back.
The #1 tip we have for brands around the holidays is to ensure they’ve set purchase limits on discounted products. Without purchase limits an unauthorized seller looking to make an easy profit can buy-up your discounted inventory at a reduced price, hold the inventory until your prices return to normal, and then list your same product slightly discounted from your normal price. Setting a purchase limit greatly deters shady sellers looking for an easy score.
We know of a brand who reported massive—and suspicious—purchase quantities flying off the shelves. Luckily they quickly found purchase limits and dropped the purchase limit to 100. Unfortunately, the suspicious activity continued, albeit slower. But when they dropped the purchase limit down to 2, suddenly sales volumes returned to normal.
Keep in mind purchase limits don’t have to be a single item per order, you can choose to allow 2 products, 5 products, or however many products you see fit. But the lower number, the more an unauthorized seller is turned off to the work it will take.
We also recommend getting registered with Amazon Brand Registry. This allows you to remove suspected infringement of your brand and control your product listing with confidence.
What happens if you’ve already lost control of your brand? If you’ve been a victim of leaky distribution or high-volume holiday purchases, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Working with Pattern and our trusted legal partners will give you the tools you need to monitor, identity, and regulate the unauthorized sellers hurting your bottom line.
Brand protection matters year round, but gets especially tricky during the holiday shopping season. For more information on keeping your brand safe, get in touch today.
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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.