LAS VEGAS — Going up against resellers on Amazon or other online marketplaces can be akin to spraying ants instead of picking up the sticky candy still on the floor.
But it’s a distribution channel that must be paid attention to, along with a broader conversation taking place online that can impact how consumers ultimately view a brand. When channel management — whether in the context of resale or simply exercising a voice online via social media or other forums — is done correctly, the benefits can outweigh some of the headaches.
A mixed slate of executives from the apparel, food and technology spaces chatted up the subject during a panel that took place at the Shoptalk conference, which concludes later today.
Turning a blind eye or attempting to stamp out resellers is the wrong move, some say.
“If you’re a brand that’s not engaged with these marketplaces, you’ll see your brand on there anyway,” said Rico Arrastia, senior director of wholesale e-commerce at Levi Strauss & Co.
It’s undeniable many marketplaces, such as Amazon, have large audiences that companies can tap into, Arrastia added, and fighting against being in front of those shoppers can lead to missed customer acquisition points.
“I just feel [reselling on Amazon] is inevitable with the advent of where e-commerce is going,” said Lenovo vice president and general manager of global e-commerce Ajit Sivadasan. “It’s going to happen so then the next best thing you can do as a brand is to understand the points you can actually influence.”
For Levi’s and Lenovo, that has meant coming up with reseller guidelines, for example, to help “these guys to actually do a good job [reselling],” Sivadasan said.
With food, the reseller factor can be tough, pointed out Amanda P. Greenberg, senior director of e-commerce at Ferrara Candy, whose portfolio includes Now & Later, Lemonheads and Red Hots. Integrity issues around expiration dates can be an issue with some resellers, she said by way of example.
New York & Co.’s current focus is on a different online marketplace in Zulily and learning about its customer through that channel. The retailer launched its first sale there a few weeks ago, which was “hugely successful,” said Paul S. Carroll, vice president of digital and e-commerce creative at New York & Co.
Brand management isn’t just about monitoring the resale channel, though. It’s also about managing the digital and in-store content and staying on top of all of it, he pointed out.
New York & Co. has more than 500 stores along with an online shop. Generating enough content to feed those channels is a big job. When the Internet was abuzz over Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album, New York & Co. seized on the frenzy, taking a dress with a lemon print that had already been on the market for a few weeks and pushing that in front of customers via e-mails.
When Jahana Hayes won the National Teacher of the Year award and was honored earlier this month by President Obama, she wore New York & Co. She wore the brand again when she appeared on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Both times she had done so unsolicited by the company.
“You can’t pay for that kind of exposure,” Carroll said, “yet you’ve got to react to it.”