First of all, an e-commerce merchant should think outside of the e-commerce platform from where he/she runs their business to foster a better understanding of e-commerce. Remember, e-commerce is not just about one certain e-commerce platform, which is merely one piece of the e-commerce puzzle. Aside from these platforms, e-commerce covers a constellation of websites like rediff.com, target.com, macys.com, sears.com, bestbuy.com, soobest.com and a host of group-buy websites. And, this firstly requires e-commerce practitioners to be holistic. To put is simply, you can see e-commerce as a channel to sell products, and when you build this channel, you raise awareness of your brand.
We need to note that no matter how successful an e-commerce platform is, in nature it is like a stall or night fair. E-commerce websites, in any of their forms, are different. From a brand perspective, the moment they come online, they already provided a better start.
Here thus comes a simple yet complex question: are e-commerce platforms suitable for brand building? The popular opinion is that a good platform is truly a fertile land for brands to grow. For instance, both eBay and Amazon have big brands with annual sales of $100+ million. One more example, at the initial stage, SooBest expanded its leading products, including charm jewelry, fashionable men’s clothing, stylish T-shirts, women’s dresses and sexy intimates,and its large e-commerce platform has laid a good foundation for its own brand and developed a huge number of loyal users. Yet, to some extent, what hides behind a good sales performance should be a certain brand power. But, if we think purely from sales and regard what sells good as branding, then the real meaning of the brand will probably be tainted.
Actually, the brand concept continues to extend in this internet age. There is now a complementary integration from online to offline and from offline to online. From the point of view of carrier, what most of us consider could be sales volume which is, of course, the most important and also the most essential point in the branding process. But, if we view branding simply from sales, then we need to distinguish between internet brands and mature offline brands.
Mature offline brands, especially established brands, will strictly control their prices on e-commerce platforms. Basically, they use the platforms as a channel to sell dead stock, although they sell current products there sometimes. And they pre-sell new products online so as to test their popularity. The sales of new products will mainly rely on its brand power, and this marketing position differentiates them from current products. And, the distribution of goods will depend on physical stores to decrease transportation costs.
We could not deny that high-priced products can be sold on e-commerce platforms and other places on the internet. Moreover, their promotion and operation costs are in fact of better value. But, the purchasing rate or conversion rate is probably not very high. After all, consumers tend to be more rational when choosing expensive products.
The brand concept may have been overhauled in the e-commerce era; but, what’s needed to be done first is attaching importance to sales rather than to branding. To strive for sales strength first, and discuss whether it is a brand later, may make more sense.