Worried about competition from resellers?

Speed is the key, plus creativity

From time to time we get faced with two challenges that are particularly prevalent for businesses involved in what we’d call a reseller or white-label arrangement.

  • These challenges are typically faced by the brand owner who sits at the very top of the supply chain and provides products and services out to a myriad of suppliers through formal and informal networks, typically with each reseller owning the end customer data but sourcing the product from the main brand.
  • Or alternatively, it is a case of the reseller struggling to get their voice heard in a crowded marketplace that is obviously going to be dominated online by the brand owner itself. A good example of this is anyone involved in financial services under an umbrella brand for regulatory and compliance purposes, or a franchise.

It is easy to assume that the hero brand at the top of the pile will always come out ahead in engines like Google as generally, they are going to be the oldest and biggest business in comparison to the many me-too resellers beneath them. Unfortunately, search engines no longer work like that. They do take into account history and the longevity of a business but with more than one hundred weighting factors to consider, these elements are not enough alone to guarantee a business will win online.

We have seen several instances where the hero brand, which produces a meaty online catalogue of everything they sell (and also a real-world print catalogue version) loses out on dominating the web space to a newer smaller reseller selling exactly the same products from the hero brand. How is this possible?

  • Typically the older business will have older technology and over time if it hasn’t been effectively optimised on an ongoing basis it will be falling foul of recent search engine algorithm changes and subsequent recommendations on best practice. In short, the site will be being held back however good the content.
  • Speed is also a very important factor. When the hero brand releases its new catalogue out to its resellers, if one of these can get the content online and indexed by the engines before the hero’s at Head Office, there is a high degree of probability that the reseller or white-labeller will be seen as the Originator of the unique content. They accordingly will win Brownie Points from the search engines and raise up the rankings whereas the real hero, the owner of the data, will be seen as a mere copier. This won’t be enough to get the hero penalised but yet again it will hold them back.

So if you are the main brand owner it’s essential to optimise regularly and get new unique content out quickly and indexed before you release it to the trade – well it is if you care about having good search positions yourselves ahead of your selling agents. And you should care about this as whoever has the prominence has power in negotiations over things like profit margins and commission rates.

On the other side of the coin, if you are a reseller of some kind and despair at getting prominence over your parent brand, or are concerned that maybe you are not getting your fair share of business leads filtering down to your territory, etc, Optimisation can be used to help.

Whilst there will undoubtedly be constraints regarding the level of flexibility you can use on your online pages, doing things quickly will help beat rivals. Having as much unique content as possible will help and rather than trying tricks with things like keyword stuffing phrases you think or know people type into online queries, it’s just a great idea to write useful content that serves a real purpose. Linking into your pages from trusted sources elsewhere, again via good content, and being extra creative about the kind of stories you are disseminating (within the law and brand guidelines) will all help too.

So just because it’s hard to shine through in an environment where many businesses compete for the exact same product or service doesn’t mean you need to give up – somebody has to be top of the Internet and with the right effort delivered in the right places the uphill challenge can often be easier than might seem the case.