Why global brands’ products mysteriously disappear from online sales channels

Bestselling products from global brands regularly disappear from the online shelves – without anyone noticing.

The resellers are usually slow to pick up on it, and most big brands are blind to it as well.

Disappearing SKUs create one of the most common sales leaks for global consumer brands. If you were to manually go through the list of SKUs that you believe are being sold at each of your resellers, and compare it to what is actually appearing in searches or on category pages, you might be surprised at how many are nowhere to be seen. As many as 40 percent of FMCG products were found to be missing from search when Bridgethorne studied the problem in 2018. 

A product can do a vanishing act literally overnight, and stay invisible to consumers for weeks and months. Fortunately, these revenue-diminishing disappearances from the shelves are easily discovered when we help global consumer brands monitor their product visibility worldwide.

Here are some of the most common reasons for vanishing SKUs:

* Broken links. As you know, resellers are continually restructuring their sites, moving products from one category to another, running campaigns, and making tech updates or various other changes. The resellers may be trying to improve their platforms, but one unintended consequence can be that products disappear without anyone noticing.

* Products are sometimes tagged with incorrect keywords, even if your product management system pushed the data out correctly initially. That means that the reseller’s algorithms aren’t picking up these products when people search for them. Or, they might show up, but not in the correct category.

* Important search words are missing on the product page. It could be the title or the description have been changed, or outdated. So when a consumer uses any of those words in searches, your products won’t be listed in the search results.

* Algorithms aren’t being optimized by the reseller. For example, we sometimes see product-related accessories coming up first on the search and the products themselves appearing on page 2, 3 or 4. 

So, what can you do to stop these problems affecting your products and brand? The first step is to have a system which warns you about possible issues with each of your products across all your resellers. Then, you can speak to the reseller to highlight what’s happening and find a solution.

Originally published Sep. 10, 2019, updated May. 11, 2020
Joakim Gavelin
Joakim Gavelin
CEO, Detail Online

Joakim has spent 25 years in merchandising and conducting audits in physical stores, and for the last 5 years he has been applying the same principles online. The tactics include promotion, presentation, visibility, stock situation, position on shelf, share of shelf etc., which all affect conversion in e-commerce.

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