Cross-shopping is one of the hottest buzzwords in any e-commerce company. With years of experience in the world of e-commerce, I am all too familiar with this concept. There are teams of people that work to ensure their customer-base doesn’t do it. Never heard of cross-shopping? Have you ever found an item in a store or online and then immediately searched elsewhere to see where you can get the best possible price? Cross-shopping at it’s finest. And, pat yourself on the back because any smart shopper would do just that.
Okay, Madison, what gives? Well, there’s a dirty little secret that e-commerce companies don’t want us to know and it’s how they sneakily try to circumvent this savvy consumer habit. It’s called white labeling and below I’m letting you in on the secret.
What Is White Labeling?
White labeling is the practice of taking one product and rebranding it under a new name, brand or company. It basically allows a company to claim a product made by another as their own. They then market it, brand it and sell it in almost any way they want. It’s been a game-changer for these companies preventing cross-shopping. Why? Well, product suppliers will often sell the same products to hundreds of retailers with zero exclusivity. They can mass-produce and lower their costs because there is so much demand. But if a hundred online shops are selling “Pillow A” made by “Such and Such Pillows” it makes it SUPER easy for us to plug in a Google search. We can then compare all of the prices for “Pillow A” in a nice consolidated space, select the cheapest option and move on. Web giants HATE that and white labeling is their solution.
How Are E-Tailers White Labeling?
There are many ways that an e-tailer might white label but the most common is changing the name of an item. Suppliers might name a pillow something generic like “Off White Wool Pillow With Black Detail” while an Urban Outfitters might get creative with “Neutral Boho Chevron Cushion”. However, there are even more sophisticated white labeling tactics that involve changing part numbers, creating new brands and even staging totally new product photos.
Why Are E-Tailers White Labeling?
E-tailers know that their consumers now have the power of the internet. Google, especially, is a powerful tool that allows us to search to our heart’s content. So, the goal of white labeling is to make it as unlikely as possible that a consumer search will yield the exact same product.
Who Are the Big Offenders??
The list is endless and is not exclusive to any one brand or website. Some of the most expensive brands use white labeling tactics. In my experience, you should expect and beware of white labeling on the following websites (to name a few!): Allmodern, Amazon, Birch Lane, Hayneedle, Joss&Main, One Kings Lane, Overstock, Wayfair, and World Market.
Let’s Look At Some Current Examples
White labeling happens everywhere and, oftentimes, where we least expect it! Check out just a few white labeled products I found below.
These two sofas are identical in every single way! The one on the left is the Vivanco Velvet from Wayfair by Corrigan Studio and the one on the right is the Kade Dark Yellow Velvet Mid-Century Modern Sofa from Overstock. At the time I wrote this post, the one at Overstock was priced 10% more than the one at Wayfair. Some product but a super easy way to safe!
No Difference Bar(stool) None!
Here’s another Wayfair/Overstock example! The two barstools below are exactly the same. The one from Wayair (left) is about $20 cheaper than the one from Overstock (right).
Keep In Mind When You’re Shopping!
Know when you’re shopping online and in store that white-labeling is a thing. With a little creativity and digging, it’s possible you could save loads of money redesigning your next space! Check out my post to see if items you’re shopping might be white-labeled!