As brands seek to stand out in an oversaturated online market, brand ownership has become key to capturing the competitive advantage.
For independent retailers and brands, it’s an uphill battle to compete with the level of service today’s retail giants offer by way of costly distribution center networks. However, despite modern conveniences offered by Amazon, Wayfair and the like, when it comes to consumer loyalty, brands may actually have a leg up.
Modern consumers continue to crave a more personalized shopping experience. Though the majority of consumers have adopted a digital-first approach to shopping post-COVID, they still want to feel seen by the brands and retailers they choose to shop from. For example, in a consumer research survey PFS conducted following the outbreak of COVID-19, 39% of shoppers stated they would rather shop a brand’s own website over an online marketplace. Likewise, if consumers had a positive experience on a new site, 45% were likely to shop that site again.
By owning the customer experience and the brand representation throughout that experiences, brands and retailers have a real opportunity to capture the competitive advantage.
The brown box – a double edged sword
Amazon recently announced the start of a new service called Buy With Prime, which extends Prime services and benefits to brand sites. Important to note, though, is that this announcement follows reports of Amazon stealing data from independent sellers on their platform to help with development of their own private-label merchandise.
Certainly Buy With Prime is a way to tap into a streamlined ecosystem and robust supply chain. The ability to do this on your own digital property where you control the customer experience is no small thing. And yet, brands must keep in mind the reality that Amazon still gets your data if you go this route. They can still capture the consumer analytics of what was bought and where it went.
In addition to questionable data security, it is impossible to personalize the packaging or replicate a boutique experience via Amazon’s now iconic brown box. Particularly for high end and luxury brands, personalization, value added services and late stage differentiation are your competitive advantage.
Brand Equity and Consumer Trust are the other vector (aside from speed) not to be overlooked when mapping out your plan for eCommerce success.
What does “brand ownership” mean?
We talk a lot about “brand ownership” at PFS. In fact, our role as the “brand behind the brand” is to empower brands to do just that, own their brand. But what exactly do we mean by this?
Two areas stand out the most: consumer experience and data ownership.
A major aspect of brand ownership is having complete control over the consumer experience when they interact with your brand. Whether that is on the website, at your stores, or upon delivery of an online order, ensuring brand ownership means delivering your brand’s spirit and values clearly and consistently across channels. So, if you are a high-end jewelry brand with a signature packaging style or an up and coming beauty brand that is full of personality, brand ownership means:
- Packaging orders using heavily branded materials
- Including unique brand messaging within that package
- Enabling customers to personalize their orders through value added services such as engraving services
- Using QR codes to encourage follow up interactions
- Providing accessible customer service with agents who represent your brand’s spirit and values
Owning your client data is the other critical component. Your sales and inventory data are the bread and butter to keeping operations moving and healthy. Data can help you understand and predict consumer behavior and guide you in determining effective stock management and demand forecasts. When you combine real-time distributed order management functionality and consumer data, you are able to keep a close eye on stock levels across multiple locations and ensure inventory and supplies are in place when and where they’re needed. When placed in the wrong hands, though, as in the Amazon example mentioned previously, you lose out on this exclusive knowledge.
Taking control with support from the experts
Are you seeking to take ownership of your brand experience online but overwhelmed by all the moving parts? Engaging a BPO to manage your day-to-day eCommerce operations might strike some as the opposite of taking ownership of your brand. On the contrary, this can often free up your in-house team to focus on the core competencies of your business, such as brand innovation, while leaving it to the experts to carry out the operational side of things, always with accurate brand representation as the driving force. By engaging a BPO, brands stand to gain several advantages, including:
- Increased flexibility and scalability
- Free up time and resources
- Access to best-in-class technology
- Reduce costs
- Receive best practice guidance
- Keep ahead of industry trends
Look to the experts to handle the day-to-day operations of your eCommerce business so you can focus on the big picture and the future of your brand. Contact PFS today to talk about how you can start taking ownership of your brand today.