Growing Your Online Business Has Gotten Harder Than Ever—Here’s How to Stand Out


Challenging platforms. Rejected product loads. Complex advertising opportunities.

It’s not just you—online retail has gotten difficult for manufacturers. Between retailers scaling for operational efficiencies, continued news of layoffs and a lumpy market, the channel now requires more work and expertise on the manufacturer’s side to succeed.

But for manufacturers who, among the complexity, can get it right—there’s even more of an opportunity to stand out from your peers.

How Retail Ecommerce is Changing

Ecommerce has always been a fast-moving channel, but recent shifts have put more weight on manufacturers to get out what they put into their partnerships with retailers. Here’s what’s changed in the last year or so:

Retailers rely more heavily on platforms and self-service models. Retailers have long used these portals for order entry and operations, but you’ll now find many of them requiring manufacturers to use them for merchandising, product content, promotions and advertising strategy. Rather than working directly with buyers, manufacturers might find themselves directed to a retailer’s portal to get questions answered and manage their business—and that puts more responsibility on the manufacturer to understand how to do so.

Changing requirements for product publishing. Retailers are aiming to meet the customer’s expectations for a stellar shopping experience. That’s translated to stricter, more robust standards for product publishing, like requiring a minimum number of lifestyle images or limiting the number of new products that can be published at a time. On top of that, manufacturers are more responsible for merchandising their products on a retailer’s site—which is a good thing in terms of managing your brand, but it takes expertise and resources to do it well.

Marketing and advertising programs are more self-serve. This also isn’t a bad thing—it gives the manufacturer full control over their paid strategy. But to make the most of it, brands need people, knowledge and strategists behind each advertising program.

Reduced support and delays. With all the news of layoffs, it’s expected that retailers will have less bandwidth than they did before to respond to the needs of their manufacturers. That’s a real challenge for brands who are used to working closely with a buyer on a proactive strategy and moving initiatives forward.

Buyers are harder to engage. Layoffs at the big retailers made headlines—but they’ve happened at the smaller retailers as well. Across the board, retailer teams are stretched thin. It’s harder to get their attention and collaborate with them on how to be most effective and reach shoppers on their sites.


What Manufacturers Need to Adapt

To keep those changes from feeling like roadblocks to growing your home furnishings business online, manufacturers must be nimble enough to adapt. That includes:

1. Finding expertise in using retailers’ platforms and understanding specific requirements. As retailers become more specialized in their processes, it’s harder to apply a one-size-fits-all strategy across your partner portfolio. BrandJump’s team comes from ecommerce, including Wayfair, Amazon, big-box stores and specialty retailers to bring that expertise to our manufacturer clients.

2. Merchandising expertise and resources. Brands need experts on their ecommerce team who understand what best-in-class merchandising looks like across different retailers—and can make it happen. In addition to being able to present products online and meet retailer standards, manufacturers must be able to deliver quickly if and when those merchandising standards change.

3. Building clean and complete product data. This will help ensure a smooth publishing process, especially for those portal-based retailers. Lean retailer teams mean it’s harder to get help if your product load is getting rejected, and products with the cleanest data and imagery will get prioritized in the queue.

4. Retailer marketing proficiency. It’s crucial that manufacturers understand what works and what’s worth investing in among retailers’ marketing programs, and that they are focused on ones that are actually producing. At the same time, it’s important to have a little room to experiment with new tactics to drive growth. Having a team who is proactive and understands the nuances of each retailer’s marketing programs can help you find the balance and ensure you’re making the right investments in the right areas.

The ecommerce channel may be harder to manage right now, but it is also ripe with opportunity. Manufacturers who put the resources and expertise in place to optimize their retailer partnerships, focus on sales growth, and adapt as needs change along the way will be well positioned for when the home shopper is “fully” back.

BrandJump provides home furnishings manufacturers with a full-scale team across merchandising, content and online sales strategy to drive growth online faster. If you’re ready to accelerate your ecommerce business, learn more about what we do best.

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