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How e‑Commerce Unifies Trade & Brand Marketing & What it Means for You

2 min read

Get the most from your e-commerce trade marketing to build brand awareness and deliver online sales in one strategy.   


Disruption cycles in retail and advertising are getting shorter. It took years for digital media and online advertising to upend the traditional advertising business. However, when it comes to point-of-sale promotion, online retailers are making short work of transforming traditional trade marketing and “traditional” digital advertising in one move.

Where once trade marketing and brand marketing budgets were separate -- with results measured against different metrics – e-commerce is blurring the line between the two.

Just look at Amazon’s relentless growth as an advertising player. In September last year the e‑commerce giant re-branded its multiple marketing options, renaming  Amazon Media Group (AMG), Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), and Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) under one banner, Amazon Advertising. The company doesn’t breakout revenue from the division in its financial results, but it is believed to be a significant proportion of its “other” category, which grew by 95 percent , to $3.4 billion in Q4 2018, compared with the same period in 2017.

Digital Shopper Marketing

In the US Amazon is now the third largest online advertising platform, after Google and Facebook, and other online retailers want to get in on the game.

This presents an opportunity for consumer goods brands to unify their brand and trade budgets to focus on marketing to the shopper across devices and channels.

Traditionally, a trade marketer had two key objectives: to get their products listed in target retailers, and then to influence and grow in-store sales. The tools they had to achieve their goals were relatively limited; including the planogram, display units, sampling demos, and other in-store promotional activity.

Managing iMedia Investment

Online it’s all about data. e-Commerce retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Tesco and more, have masses of information about consumers’ shopping habits. Trade marketers and advertisers alike can use this data to target buyers at the point of purchase, on the virtual shelf.

The e-commerce channel offers a powerful platform to deliver trade marketing, and build product and brand awareness in parallel, but not if it’s treated in isolation. Shopper marketing always performs best when it is part of an integrated cross-channel strategy. The beauty of online is that brands can effectively ‘follow’ their audience’s activity from channel to channel, to increase sales opportunities at each touch-point.

There are several dimensions to consider:

  • It’s time to stop thinking about your banners and promotions on e-commerce platforms as trade marketing only. From now on your Amazon (and other e-retailers’) media plan should look more like a digital advertising plan, with wider goals, rather than just focused on trade marketing and retailer collaboration.
  • Secondly, your trade marketing teams need to learn the language, and skills of digital advertising. The new paradigm means developing one-to-one marketing tactics, retargeting, and calls to action, and being measured on conversion and cost per click – even more reason brand and trade marketing should be working together.
  • The practical issues of placement, vehicle and creative also need careful attention; it’s no longer a matter of plonking a standee as close as possible to the point of sale. Should I advertise on a main page, category page, or product-landing page? What are the most effective formats to promote my product, given its category? How do I build clickable ads with visuals or text that drive conversion depending on capabilities available in each online store?
  • Despite the changes brought about by the advent of e-commerce, it’s important not to completely abandon fundamental trade marketing competencies. Success still requires an ability to assess category activity, and focus on the buyer and how to influence them.

The starting point for any strategy is to ensure all your ducks are in a row – for the online channel that means sales fundamentals, product content, ratings & reviews, assortment, and pricing – before you spend any money on online trade advertising.

Want to find out more about how online trade marketing fits into and effective e-commerce channel strategy? Read The Effective e‑Commerce Team ebook.

Łukasz Stebelski
Łukasz Stebelski
Łukasz Stebelski

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