How to Protect Your Brand Online
Do you know how much your eCommerce brand is worth? Have you ever calculated your brand’s actual contribution to the bottom line — either in dollar figures or as a percentage of your company’s overall value? Very few businesses do this, and that’s understandable. Calculating brand value is a tricky and imprecise science.
You know that Coca-Cola, Apple, and other world-dominating companies all have brands worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars, making it among their most valuable assets. But believe it or not, if your company sells online — and your products are or could become commodities competing with similar items — your brand’s value might even be more central to your business’s health than it is to these multibillion-dollar corporate giants.
That’s because online shoppers today have an ever-increasing number of choices, and they can instantly comparison shop. Which means one of the few remaining ways you can earn those shoppers’ business, trust, and loyalty is by growing and protecting your commerce brand online. Here are some tips to get you started.
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1. Work only with retailers you trust to deliver outstanding customer experiences
Syracuse University professor Kyu Lee describes brand value according to a willingness-to-pay test. Consumers, Professor Lee told Forbes, will indicate how much they value a brand based on how much more they’ll pay for the company’s product than they would for something comparable they could get from a different company.
So, why would someone pay more for one brand over another? According to research published in Harvard Business Review, consumers will pay a premium for brands that offer exceptional user experiences.
What does all of this mean for protecting your eCommerce brand online? One key lesson is that you need to make sure your retail partners are delivering exceptional online experiences.
That means you should sign up for a brand protection platform online that helps you create and manage an Authorized Dealer Program, where you’re able to vet resellers before allowing them to buy your inventory for resale.
2. Make sure your retailers price your products according to the brand image you want to create
One of the fastest ways companies can lose brand value and reputation online is by allowing competing retailers to engage in a price war — dropping the advertised prices lower and lower to lure customers.
If your goal is to establish a reputation as a premium brand — or at least not a commodity company that competes only on price — you’ll need to determine the prices at which you want to your resale channel to offer your products online. You’ll then need to create and enforce a MAP pricing policy (or other type of reseller policy) to make sure your retailers are honoring those minimum prices everywhere they sell your products online.
When you have such a program successfully up and running, your retail partners will feel more confident that you are protecting their interests and margins, so they will be much less likely to violate your pricing policy out of fear that if they don’t, another retailer might do it first.
3. Monitor your customer ratings and reviews online at all times
That Harvard Business Review study I mentioned earlier also had this important stat: Consumers are more than twice as likely to spontaneously recommend a product that provided an exceptional user experience. More than twice as likely!
Which means you need to know exactly what customers are saying about your products across the internet. If there’s something wrong with any aspect of your offering — a retail partner, a shipping partner, your customer service process, or the product itself — customers posting negative reviews will often be your first clue.
And that means your brand protection platform should also include online customer review tracking and reporting — so as those star ratings and written reviews appear on retailers’ websites, Amazon, and other marketplaces, you’ll be notified immediately.
Protecting your eCommerce brand online requires a comprehensive approach
Implementing one of the strategies I’ve outlined above would be a great start to protecting your eCommerce brand. But to give your company the best chance of growing and maintaining an outstanding, industry-dominating brand, you really need to develop a complete strategy that addresses all of these key areas and others.
If you’d like help developing your strategy, contact a TrackStreet brand protection expert.