Many brands rely on a network of retailers and distributors to have their products assorted online. While smaller brands can keep an eye on everything, it rapidly gets out of hand for more prominent brands. Quite often, the reality of distribution is actually far from the original plan. And the more intermediaries there are, the higher the risk of mistakes. Even with a carefully managed network of retailers, the reasons for brands to monitor their online assortment are plenty.
It is not uncommon for brands to realize that one of their products was not assorted by a retailer. This may happen for a variety of reason even though the brand did ship the product to that retailer!
Brands may want to address gaps to increase sales, display consistent product ranges and occupy as much virtual shelf space as possible.
Retailers eventually run out of stock; out of stock product pages hurt both sales and brand image. In the era of e-commerce, professional buyers usually handle hundreds of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs). It might be several days before they do call for a reassortment.
Some retailers like Amazon will actually display just how many units are still in stock. Although this is mostly intended for the final buyer, brands can use this to their advantage to anticipate shortages and minimize the delay before the products are restocked.
Besides hurting sales, stock issues can also have a long-lasting negative impact on search performance. Algorithms like Amazon’s have some memory built-in and may penalize a product that is frequently out of stock in the search results.
By monitoring the assortment of competitors on a large variety of websites, brands sometimes uncover e-tailers that they did not consider before. Competitive intelligence is one of the keys to expanding market share and total sales volume.
Many e-commerce websites, including Amazon, use a marketplace system. Some products may be sold and shipped by 3rd party retailers. Although the customers are free to pick their favorite option, most will just use whichever is triggered by the Add to cart button.
On Amazon stores, the retailer to whom the sale is going depends on who owns the Buy Box. If a manufacturer deals directly with Amazon, the product should be sold in direct. This is the situation that optimizes the revenue for the brand.
3rd party sellers are usually independent retailers or brick-and-mortar stores looking to make an extra buck. Sometimes, however, it may be worse: grey market, stolen merchandise, unauthorized retailers, counterfeits, repackaging and so on.
For brands and manufacturers, keeping an eye on big marketplaces’ Lost Buy Boxes should be one of the priorities of online assortment monitoring.
Managing the distribution of a product throughout its life cycle is a challenge. Launch and end-of-life are two very thorny stages that brands must address diligently.
Product launches are crucial and require impeccable execution. Assortment monitoring is one of the keys to successfully launching new products. In particular, brands should check at least daily that:
Similarly, the end of a product’s life requires some monitoring:
Monitoring online assortment in your market has a lot of advantages. It benefits brands and retailers both. Although it is possible to monitor assortment manually for low-scale companies with a small set of products and competitors, you may rapidly want to set up an e-commerce monitoring solution.
To achieve the benefits mentioned in this article, look for a solution that:
BlueBoard is an e-commerce monitoring software offering top-of-the-line solutions to monitor online prices. Talk to our team to find out if we are a good fit for your current assortment monitoring challenges!