Ranking eTail & e-Commerce Partners — and Competitors
In our 2011 survey of US apparel brands, we found a surprisingly high percentage of sites in the Top 20 search results for the brands’ names were not owned by official retail partners or re-sellers at all but by unauthorised resellers, discounters or brandjackers. In our study of 14 brand name manufacturers, one popular niche outdoor brand surrendered 100% of the value of the Top 20 search positions for its own name and the keyword modifier “hiking shoes” — with over 94 percent being claimed by companies in groups 4 – 7 below. Another, a long established outdoor brand, gave up 100% of the value of the Top 20 search positions for its own name and the keyword modifier “adventure” — with over 91 percent being taken by companies in groups 4 – 7 below.
The penetration was, unsurprisingly, higher (on average around 60 percent) for non-branded keyword searches (e.g. “footwear” or “running shoes”), which yielded many discounters and others not authorised to sell the branded products they were touting. But even for brand- and product- name searches, the penetration averaged 20 percent.
There was a low cross-penetration of search results by major brand online retail stores into each others’ search results for branded and non-branded keywords. But there was a very high cross-penetration from eTail-only brands, virtual storefronts on community sites or blogs, virtual malls and price comparison agents.
What this indicates is that these manufactuers — most of them household names, the remainder hip niche brands — are neither taking control of their own search results visibility nor scoring their official re-sellers’ search performance. In some cases, they aren’t policing the Web for sites jacking their brand names or keywords.
Scoring eTail, eCommerce Partners and Competitors’ Search performance
Companies that have active online re-seller and e-Commerce partnerships may find it pays dividends to rank and score the owners of the Top 20 search positions for their branded and non-branded keywords. A useful classification for websites, blogs and social profiles in the Top 20 would encompass:
- Company owned
- Official partner/re-seller
- Unofficial re-seller/discounter
- Price comparison/agent
- Online marketplaces & exchanges (B2B)
Under RankTank’s normal classification system, 1 – 3 would be classified as ECR (because they’re controlled or controllable by the Enterprise), and 4 – 8 would be OCR (in the Other catch-all bucket after Consumer and Media). But a more granular, custom classification makes sense for those focused on online retail and e-Commerce.