Illustration for an article on how commerce can help build brand success
August 26, 2019 by Mark Brownlee

Merch Madness: How to build brand success with your very own ecommerce store!

Selling goods to your audience used to be complicated.

You had to worry about stocking inventory, shipping and sourcing multiple suppliers – not to mention the costs associated with advertising.

Not so anymore.

The rise of simple-to-use ecommerce and drop shipping platforms, to go along with more accessible ad platforms such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads, has made commerce available to everyone.

That’s created an opportunity for many brands to deepen their connection with audiences by selling merch.

Here are three brands that are using ecommerce stores to build brand success.

The Ringer

The Ringer is a media company, covering everything from the New York Mets’ playoff chances to the must-read books by Toni Morrison across a variety of online articles, videos and podcasts.

So, what is it doing selling t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts?

It’s likely not a huge money earner. The site runs ads all over its main page, which probably is the main revenue driver for the company. Whatever cash the store brings in is probably a much smaller percentage of overall revenue than the ad money.

Which means there can really only be one explanation: The Ringer’s foray into ecommerce is an effort to build its brand with audience members.

The Ringer’s online store is a cornucopia of references to podcasts and the in-jokes its personalities have popularized with its loyal audience members.

Add it all up and you have the perfect tool for deepening engagement from its audience.

It’s one thing to listen to a podcast with the words “basketball is very good” in the intro theme to “The Ringer NBA Show”. It’s another matter to wear those words on a t-shirt.

Tweed

The Government of Canada’s legalization of marijuana has flooded the market with cannabis companies.

But these companies aren’t here to just ship marijuana. They’re also hoping to build their brands with potential customers.

That’s why companies such as Hexo and Aphria have built content strategies aimed at deepening the connection with their audiences.

It doesn’t stop there, either.

Tweed, based in Smiths Falls, Ontario, has taken its commitment to brand-building a step further.

The company operates an ecommerce store that sells merch.

It’s not giant – just big enough for a few t-shirts and hoodies. But that’s plenty for anyone who cares enough about the Tweed brand to buy something that shows their loyalty.

As a bonus: Selling merch from the Tweed online store allows the company to collect email addresses and other contact info.

That means it can follow up with customers (or potential customers) to continue building a relationship with them outside of a purchase from the store.

The Canadian Museum of History

Think ecommerce is only for private business?

Think again.

Once upon a time, museums could only sell merchandise as patrons exited through the gift shop.

Thanks to the rise in ecommerce, those days are gone.

Take the Canadian Museum of History for example.

It now operates an online store selling everything from books to board games.

Conclusion

What will history tell us about brands using ecommerce as a marketing strategy?

That it’s an ideal way to engage customers, build brand loyalty and maybe even create an additional revenue stream.

Whether you choose to take advantage of the changes in ecommerce is up to you.

Mark Brownlee is a digital marketing strategist in Ottawa, Canada.

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