Digital BrandWorks lives at the intersection where manufacturing, retail and e-commerce meet. They are a digital consultancy which specializes in representing Manufacturers and Retailers in the digital marketplaces, while providing complimentary business intelligence services and marketing solutions. BuyHappier.com (#132 on the 2013 INC 500) list, a subsidiary of Digital BrandWorks, is their consumer facing ecommerce site that seeks to put the customer needs at the front of every interaction. While providing an excellent shopping experience on buyhappier.com, they are able to learn customer behavior and use this to help our clients manage their products in the marketplaces. This hybrid Consultancy-Retailer model is unique in that Digital BrandWorks provides high level strategic consulting services and hands on services through the marketplaces while leveraging research via buyhappier.com.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advantages does being hybrid consultancy business provide for your clients?
Jeff: We believe that we offer an entirely unique solution in that we are strategists and consultants in the areas of digital channel management, business intelligence and marketing services but are well versed in ecommerce due to our buyhappier.com, Amazon and marketplace experiences. We offer real world strategy to our clients based on practical implementation and management experience. In fact, while we offer deep strategy and consulting services, we also offer hands on ecommerce management services through the marketplaces or otherwise. We go beyond just developing ideas for clients, we execute. Buyhappier.com is a big part of our ability to do that.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk a bit about your knack for developing solutions for Manufacturers around the pervasive issue of “Showrooming” between e-commerce and brick & mortar retail?
Jeff: There a varying reports out there but generally we know that at least 50% of retail shoppers have used their phone in-store to comparison shop. Showrooming is an issue partly because brands have been unable to control distribution, for a variety of valid reasons. What we ask our partners to do is to evaluate their distribution and retail relationships and determine where they need to enforce MAP more consistently. If there is brand protection in pricing, many showrooming challenges begin to become overcome. Additionally, we consult on and implement a variety of digital strategies and tactics which can help promote products at MAP – ranging from data analysis to custom marketing solutions.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s Channel Management and is it something that a small company could do in-house or does it require an outside perspective?
Jeff: Channel Management refers to management of the digital marketplaces and distribution. Most small companies are not doing this in-house and if they are they are spending valuable time and resources on an activity that is highly competitive and involves constant learning – it’s hard to be an expert unless you dedicate time and resources to the effort. In order to play in this space effectively there are data, creative, bidding, monitoring and maintenance needs that all live in a dynamic real-time marketplace environment. It’s a full time job – that’s one area where we offer so much value to our partners.
BusinessInterviews.com: You review each of your clients’ current policies, practices and reporting methods to see what needs to be changed. What are some of the most common issues you see companies facing?
Jeff: Many companies either don’t have a strong MAP policy or are not enforcing that policy effectively. This inconsistent MAP policy enforcement can lead to massive pricing discrepancy online. We see this a great deal in the marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay where there are too many retailers selling the same product and some are even unauthorized resellers. What we do extremely well is to audit these marketplaces using our auditing software to identify and remove unauthorized sellers and make strategic recommendations on distribution, pricing and listing optimization. In doing these audit crawls, we collect as much data as possible to influence recommendations on overall distribution strategy and digital channel strategy. This sort of thoughtful consultative approach has led us to various types of engagements with clients and is now leading us into retail consulting and management for partners as well.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Jeff: Clearly manufacturers need to pay attention to pricing in the marketplaces. If they don’t they risk long term, costly brand erosion. Showrooming is here to stay and that means traditional retailers have dropped prices and squeezed margins to price match. Manufacturers have got to control distribution and demand that their products be presented favorably online and digitally in general. More generally, consumers are researching manufacturers online and manufacturers need to (and the progressive ones are) better care for their brand online in pricing and in branding / content generation. We are seeing more and more manufacturers look to generate and distribute compelling branded content to support MAP prices and brand equity. We definitely can help with this.
BusinessInterviews.com: Why is it critical to sales and operations planning to identify the “business drivers” in each company?
Jeff: If we can create a more or less consistent pricing paradigm, we can better understand demand and isolate variables which influence demand like marketing promotions, timing, placement, ecommerce trends and a variety of other critical factors. Analyzing this data consistently from a central warehouse with the right tool set and reporting and analysis cadence can prove incredibly valuable in managing cost and production for our partners.
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