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Brand, Campaigns & Content September 29, 2020

How to maintain brand equity when selling on marketplaces


Selling direct to consumers through marketplaces can prove lucrative, as Amazon boasts 10x growth over the last 10 years from $34bn in 2010 to $300bn in 2019. But, do marketplaces offer value without vulnerability to businesses with regards to preserving an established brand?

Determining how to best utilise marketplaces presents challenges for businesses both big and small. However, one key obstacle all businesses face, regardless of size, is the ability to retain brand equity in marketplace environments. Dept’s Executive Creative Director, Jake Welsh, presented main talking points on trends, challenges, what businesses of all sizes should be aware of and explore before employing the services of a marketplace, in an informative talk.

Data & Trends

Statistics show that the top 5 marketplaces equate to over 60% of all global online sales, with 68% of online shoppers beginning their purchasing journey through Amazon. Additionally, 32% of online shoppers use Amazon as a price compare tool before finalising purchasing decisions. While it is impossible to ignore these statistics, how do you enter a marketplace whilst still holding on to your brand equity? There are several factors which can help with the decision.

Relationships vs. Transactions

First and foremost, it is important to remember that your brand store, whether online or in a physical location, is where you will forge lasting client relationships and loyalty. Marketplaces offer an opportunity to introduce your product and pique interests in your brand, but these interactions are transactional, and fleeting at best. 

A brand store is where you introduce yourself, bringing into focus the ‘what’ of your business and the way you do it. It is here where the nuance of your brand is explored, providing a journey and, in turn, a long-term connection. This is where your customer feels rewarded, understood and supported.

Marketplaces exist for convenience, providing speed, competitive pricing, availability and ease to the shopper. Product turnaround on marketplaces is staggering, with many offering same-day delivery. Search, click, consume . . . done. This doesn’t leave time for developing a relationship with the customer. 

While transactional relationships will not work for everyone, many brands can find a balance between the two by designing a hybrid ecosystem.

The video illustrates how the rules of marketplaces just don’t translate into a personal relationship. Would you expect to develop a lasting relationship with a customer if you provided the service portrayed below?



There is not a one size fits all option, every ecosystem will vary from business to business. As a brand, it is crucial to define your experience and ecosystem around what balance you desire most: transactions or relationships. Chances are you will want both.

Build a strategy that protects your brand’s equity and limits marketplace vulnerabilities. Design an ecosystem that compliments the customer experience you are building, while maximising visibility by placing your brand at the forefront of the research stage of the purchase.

Nespresso is a prime example of a balanced ecosystem with its brand design, beautifully developed website, and boutique experience provided in their physical stores. Nespresso uses Amazon to introduce its brand and increase visibility, but also protects the equity by only making the coffee capsules available. If the customer wants to buy a machine they will need to visit the Nespresso website or physical store.



Design your brand.
Define your experience.
Build relationships.
Prepare to transact.

You can watch the full webinar on the Fresh Business Thinking website.  

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