Why global brands’ products mysteriously disappear from online sales channels

Bestselling products from global brands regularly disappear from the online shelves—with no one noticing. Why the disappearing SKUs?

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 go through the list of SKUs that you believe are being sold at each of your resellers and compare it to what actually appears in searches or category pages, it might surprise you at how many are absent.

Bridgethorne studied the problem in 2018 and found up to 40 percent of FMCG products missing from the search.

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

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

* Broken links create disappearing SKUs.

As you know, resellers always restructure their sites. Moving products from one category to another. Running campaigns and making tech updates or various other changes. These resellers may try to improve their platforms. But one unintended consequence can be that products disappear with no one noticing.

* Products tagged with incorrect keywords:

Even if your product management system initially pushed out the correct data. That means 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 a change in the title or the description. Or it’s outdated. So when a consumer uses any of those words in searches, they won’t see your products in the search results.

* The reseller isn’t optimizing the Algorithms.

For example, we sometimes see product-related accessories coming up first on the search and the products themselves appearing on pages 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 that warns you about your products’ issues 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 Feb. 03, 2021
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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