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7 Simple Ways Ecommerce Brands Can Frustrate Retailers

By Shaun Tinney
4 minute read | Last Updated: July 25, 2016

Many ecommerce brands rely on their retail partners for the bulk of their annual revenue. Learn how to avoid upsetting those relationships by selling direct to consumer through a brand site.

Many ecommerce brands rely on their retail partners for the bulk of their annual revenue, so it’s easy to see why many are hesitant to upset those relationships by offering ecommerce on their site.

A great ecommerce site actually provides retailer partners with a lot of support. For example, if the site has a great user experience and helpful content, it’s a positive touchpoint in the multi-screen research process most consumers go through before making a purchase.

There are some things, however, that brands do with ecommerce that can frustrate relationships with retail partners. Here are our top seven:

  1. Selling below MSRP
  2. Not providing a store locator
  3. Making a site that works for the brand, not the customer
  4. Not coordinating promotions with retailers
  5. Only selling a select portion of available products
  6. Not offering replacement parts online
  7. Not providing online retailers with marketing support beyond an AdWords budget

If ecommerce brands aren’t supporting their retailers by sending ready buyers into their stores, they’re missing a huge opportunity to boost sales across the board.

1. Selling below MSRP

The highest margin sale a brand can make is direct to consumer through their website. If a brand offers competitive pricing on their site along with other incentives, the (perceived) likelihood they’ll cut into their partner sales goes way up.

For the benefit of their retail partners, ecommerce brands can afford to close fewer sales online by sticking to MSRP pricing for current season and marquee products.

2. Not providing a store locator

Consumer brand sites see about a 40% conversion rate for their online store locators. If a customer searches for a brand, the dot com will typically be the top result.

When they’re looking for a place to buy that brand’s products, it is critical that task can be completed from the brand site.

ecommerce brands store locator

An example of the Apple store locator

If ecommerce brands aren’t supporting their retailers by sending ready buyers into their stores, they’re missing a huge opportunity to boost sales across the board.

3. Making a site that works for the company not the customer

Too many brand sites feature content that is focused on the company rather than the products (the history, the founders, the brand story, etc.) While it may seem like this focus keeps the site from competing with retailers, it is actually just hurting everyone.

Customers are looking to the brand site for detailed and helpful product information, and if ecommerce brands are too busy talking about themselves, nobody wins.

4. Not coordinating promotions with retailers

There’s a huge opportunity for ecommerce brands and retailers to offer the same discounts rather than competing with each other. If a brand is offering a new product at a 10% discount online, they can work with retail partners to offer the same (or an increased) discount for in store pickup.

Retailers could offer exclusive online coupons to their customers, and receive a portion of the sale. The opportunities are endless, and few companies are coordinating efforts in this way.

This is also a great use case for retailer promotion coordination. Offering retailers a discount coupon for their customers and a kickback for the referral to an online sale.

5. Only selling a select portion of available products

Retailers feature the most current season of products, with last season’s are available on clearance. Customers aren’t always looking for the most current version of something, and may even be seeking products or parts that are difficult to track down at a retail location nearby. This provides an opportunity for ecommerce brands to support both retailers and customers by offering their complete product catalog and replacement parts for sale online.

6. Not offering replacement parts online

Another key way that ecommerce brands support their customers and their retailers is by offering an expanded catalog of service and support for their products. When replacement parts or extended warranties are available for purchase directly from the brand site it makes life easier on customers and retailers. This is also a great opportunity to point customers toward updated versions of a product or product line.

7. Not providing online retailers with marketing support beyond an AdWords budget

There are many ways a brand can support their online retail partners beyond marketing co-op dollars for cost per click campaigns, unfortunately most ecommerce brands don’t pursue them. It is up to those brands to provide their partners with high quality product images and videos for use in the partner’s marketing efforts.

Offering unique product descriptions (not the same ones found on the brand site or in the print catalog) would maintain better control of the customer experience while increasing SEO for all parties.

Overcoming retailer fears about direct sales competition with the brand starts with the willingness to acknowledge and then fix those things that are unnecessarily frustrating the relationship.

Following up with coordination and communication will enable retail to partners start to realize what a huge support component and ecommerce site truly can be — for both of you.