Brand Protection Lessons Learned in 2020


Wow—2020. What a year. It definitely had its challenges: Worldwide pandemic, polarizing societal tension, and no March Madness! But, fortunately, it is in the rearview mirror, and 2021 is upon us. We know that, amid the numerous other developments of 2020, the ecommerce landscape shifted—or, more accurately, expanded.

If your brand faced new challenges last year in trying to navigate the every-changing climate that is “ecommerce,” you are not alone. During the past 12 months, we have talked with and serviced countless brands in assisting them with their Amazon marketplace and overall online presence.

Here are a few key takeaways from 2020 that we believe ought to help protect and grow your brand online in 2021:

  1. While it is never an ideal approach to allow your retail partners to develop and dictate your ecommerce strategy, that lesson has never been more apparent.
    • As Covid-19 struck, shutting down brick-and-mortar retailers and putting a massive spotlight on online shopping, retail businesses reacted (predictably) by shifting much of their inventory and sales to online channels such as Amazon and, possibly even more disruptively, their own All the sudden, brands that previously had perhaps a minor and/or manageable footprint online were appearing on Walmart, Target, “,” and anywhere else that small-to-medium retailers could generate revenue. A larger footprint = more one-off brand presentations and more competition for conversions (i.e. spiraling prices being matched in a ping-pong-like fashion). Absent a legitimate reseller program with the proper, legally enforceable foundation and an effective monitoring-and-enforcement tool, brands were being hung out to dry at an alarming pace.
  2. EXPAND (but carefully).
    • Perhaps the most obvious lesson we learned in 2020 for ecommerce was to be there. As one marketplace had trouble with fulfillment the other ran out of key inventory, and while one retail website shutdown their operations another had ship times that rendered it infeasible. The point is this: Expand your brand’s online presence in a measured, strategic fashion. You want to be where traffic is trending. As Amazon faced challenges, Walmart emerged. As brick-and-mortar closed down, consumers stampeded to retail sites. Again, you want your brand to be available through a variety of channels, but the key is to keep the expansion controlled. To govern where and how your resellers sell your product as you establish new frontiers is essential. The importance of visibility, the ability to communicate with resellers, and enforcement capabilities that have credibility cannot be overstated. The alternative is that your brand is everywhere but in an out-of-control manner that leads to disparate descriptions, price discrepancies, and upset retail partners.
  3. Don’t over-calibrate. Brick-and-mortar has its place.
    • With the rush to perfect ecommerce in 2020, we talked with clients and partners alike who agree that to focus nearly entirely on ecommerce now would be a mistake. Stores still matter. No one knows exactly how consumers will react once given the all-clear to fully embrace physical shopping and in-person experiences again. It quite conceivable that retail storefronts will see a boom in sales this year as compared to years past with customers just itching to get outside their home and support local businesses. The point to emphasize here is that, unless your brand is convinced brick-and-mortar is entirely useless moving forward, make sure to engage effectively with physical retail partners. The risk of forgetting about them or diminishing their role is threefold:
      1. Missing out on what could be an extremely busy channel this year into next
      2. Failing to align policies and pricing across your sales channels and causing frustration among your various resellers
      3. Allowing stranded inventory residing in warehouses and stores that were shutdown nearly all of 2020 to be liquidated—later popping up on online marketplaces and causing disruption to your listings, pricing, and overall presence


About The Author

Andy Buss is the Legal & Corporate Development Specialist at Retail Bloom. As both an attorney and an entrepreneur with a background in marketing, Andy provides a unique and valuable perspective when it comes to sustainable brand growth. When he's not sharpening his ping-pong skills in the break room, he can be found tirelessly pursuing the best way to keep brand clients ahead of looming online threats. Be sure to follow him on LinkedIn.


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