The Digital IQ benchmarks brand performance on properties they own (mobile sites and apps, desktop brand sites, search real estate, and social media pages). However, sales also depend on how brands appear and are sold on third-party websites, which is why L2 is introducing a new product: the Commerce IQ. L2’s Commerce IQ benchmarks brand performance on retailer partner websites based on four dimensions: Pricing and Assortment, Search, Product Page Merchandizing, and Category Merchandizing.

At L2’s Goliath clinic today, Director of Commerce IQ Mabel McLean presented a Commerce IQ case study on Amazon listing structures. Brands distributing on the e-tailer can either list related SKUs individually or group them together as “variation listings”. The sales rank assigned to a variation listing is determined by the SKU with the highest sales rank in the bundle. While, on average, all SKUs bundled in variation listings have lower sales ranks than individual SKU listings, the top-ranked SKUs in variation listings have the highest sales ranks.

Average Amazon sales rank

Because the Amazon algorithm weights sales volume heavily, bestselling SKUs boost the search performance of other SKUs bundled in variation listings. Accordingly, brands that use more variation listings enjoy superior search visibility. Variation listings appear twice as high on first-page search results as non-variation listings.

Brands are structuring their listings accordingly. L’Oréal Paris previously employed a separate listing for each shade of its True Match foundation. Between June and September, the brand switched to a single listing strategy for all foundation variations.

L'Oreal on Amazon

Variation listing structures are useful for new product launches. Newly launched products, without the advantage of historical sales, have initial low sales ranks. Accordingly, these products are at a disadvantage when it comes to search visibility. Febreze counters this mechanism by bundling newly released air freshener scents with older ones to capitalize on the search advantages of their historic bestsellers.

Conversely, Almay does not bundle its SKUs into variation listings. When users search for “Almay Mascara,” the first result is a discontinued product, due to its high historical sales volumes, rather than a product that is still sold by the brand. The top placement of the discontinued product listing, controlled by a third-party retailer selling old products, displaces listings of officially distributed brand product.

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