If you are a Brand and especially if you are a Retail Brand (most of them are in one way or another) you probably have Wholesale.com / Partner Online Retail / Partner eRetail development high on your priority list. Growing your sales via eCommerce capabilities of your existing partners and entering into new prosperous partnerships (usually pure-play retailers like Zalando and Amazon) is, safely to say, the very first step Brands will consider. Why? Because it is, or it seems like, the fastest way and "the easiest" way to grow your new online channel sales - leveraging capabilities of your retail partners. With minimum changes to your internal capabilities and established organisational comfort zones.
On the other hand, Growing Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) business for Brands will be a strategic decision as it may interfere with existing relationships (competing against your existing retail partners), cannibalising established sales, heavy investments into new technology and fulfilment capabilities - not to mention new organisational structures, changing mindset and new talent hiring and in general new vision of the company (as direct-to-consumer company).
Unlike building DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) capabilities, growing the Brand(ing) in Wholesale.com seems like a natural extension of business-as-usual. Emphasis on the word "seems". It is "as simple" as it 'was simple" for companies to open up social media presence. Later they discovered it was a "Tip of the Iceberg" venture that sucked them into arrays of challenges they were unprepared for and overwhelmed with. What are challenges of Brand(ing) in Wholesale.com? Many, but here's an overview of some that I will elaborate in greater detail in next articles.
1. Branding Myopia and Brand Commoditisation in eRetail/eCommerce environments
Sales growth opportunities are there but what is the impact of Online Retailers and their (lack) capacities / commitment to uphold your unique brand identity? Clash of Conversion Driven vs. Brand (premium perception) driven models goes directly in online retail. On more than one front. Trade-off tensions between short term and long term benefits. Technical aspects / ability of Brand(ing) in eRetail environment, cost of missing out (not being there) vs cost of being there improperly. Think how Amazon forces comparison of competing brands on non-brand characteristics such as price and product features. Same goes for all other online retailers.
Cost of missing out on digital / eCommerce sales & presence vs Cost of being there improperly and damaging your Brand
2. Operational Brand Execution & eRetail Digital Branding Capacity Gap
eRetail partners are on different levels of organisational capacity both in terms of teams and people, but also in terms of technologies they use. Especially true if you aim to exist and work with eRetailers across different markets. Adapting to this granular and highly heterogenous network of digital properties is not easy. Without clear Digital Band Retail Blueprints you will underserve your partners and miss out on (free) branding presence opportunities of your eRetail network partners. Feeding enough right Branding content to your retailers means winning in Competing in Digital Customer Journeys game across your eRetail / Whoelesale.com network. If your brand doesn't exist in newsfeeds of your retail partners properties means you don't exist in their & your customers' minds. Feeding the feed. Not to mention, that the opportunity of leveraging social properties to drive traffic to your product pages is lost and unmanaged completely.
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