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Study reveals keys to small brand online success

Seeing is believing for online buyers of small brands’ products.

According to “Charting the Growth Journey: From Product to Profitable Business,” a study conducted by GS1 US and Longitude, a Financial Times company, 59% of high-growth small brands see a direct correlation between providing complete product information (such as images, product origins, and more) in their online listings with the number of products sold. These growth leaders are defined as having achieved more than 25% growth in the past year.

Additionally, 57% of these growth leaders indicated that using universal product codes (UPCs) in their online product listings helps customers more easily find their products online. The study also showed that small brands leveraging multiple sales channels and working with external partners were more likely to experience significant growth.

More than four in 10 respondents prioritized diversifying their product range (45%) and becoming the top-selling product in their category (44%) over expanding through new sales channels. Forty-four percent report understanding which are the right sales channels for their business, but nearly half (47%) have not yet developed a long-term sales channel strategy.

High-growth leaders, however, leverage an average of 3.1 sales channels, while laggards (respondents with revenue declines in past 12 months) report just 1.3 channels. Also, 97% of small brands that sell via an online retailer experienced some level of growth in the past year. Yet, the majority of the businesses surveyed (60%) favor their own websites as the top sales channel, which according to GS1 U.S. analysis suggests they prefer to maintain closer marketing relationships with customers.

In addition, more than half (55%) of high-growth leaders agree that partnering with a retail broker or consultant has been critical to growing the business. Specifically, 83% of small brands that leverage online marketplaces and national retailers say partners (such as barcode services, software providers, business consultants and more) improve their understanding of product information and its impact on their business.

GS1 US and Longitude conducted the study in spring 2019 via an online survey of 513 leaders of U.S. small brands representing apparel, food and beverage, arts and crafts, health-and-beauty, electronics and home and garden industry sectors.
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