The State of E-Commerce for Brands: How Manufacturers Sell Online

September 28, 2015

Brands Mike Shapaker By Mike Shapaker

Recently, ChannelAdvisor worked with Retailing Today to survey 347 branded manufacturer representatives on a range of issues, such as:

  • The changing retail landscape
  • New methods of distribution
  • Key operational challenges

You can find the published survey report here. However, we also want to dig into the nitty-gritty of the results and share more details here on the blog.

In this post, we’ll dive into how consumer brand manufacturers go to market online.

Who is selling online?

About 93% of survey respondents indicated that their products are sold online, either directly or through resellers.

Brands 1

We surveyed companies that ranged in size from less than $100 million in annual sales to more than $10 billion in annual sales. Interestingly, the percentage of companies whose products were sold online was consistent across companies of all sizes.

How are they selling online?


Of those brands whose products are sold online, a little less than half sell directly from their own e-commerce sites. This number does vary quite a bit, as brands with less than $250 million in annual sales are twice as likely to have direct e-commerce operations as brands with annual sales above $250 million (60% vs. 30%).


Consumer brand manufacturers with annual sales in the $1 billion to $10 billion range were more likely to have direct e-commerce operations than those companies with sales between $250 million and $1 billion or those above $10 billion.

Brands in the food and consumables vertical were less likely than other verticals to sell online. Those in apparel, home & garden and sports & outdoors were more likely to sell online.

Of the brands that sell their products online, Amazon is an authorized reseller for 85%.


Brands with annual sales of less than $100 million were slightly less likely to use Amazon as an authorized reseller than brands with higher annual sales. All verticals were likely to leverage Amazon as a retail partner.


In a future post, we’ll dig into more detail on Amazon, including the average percentage of a brand’s catalog that Amazon carries and the use of Amazon’s marketplace by consumer brand manufacturers, its authorized resellers and unauthorized resellers.

Branded Manufacturers CTA