Brand retail performance – including customer traffic, conversion rate, etc. – used to be determined by brand and key competitors’ health, alongside a complex and often erratic mix of circumstances. For some time now, we need to add another variable in the mix: the retailers’ search algorithm.

All brands with e-commerce presence are therefore affected by this new diva in town, that carefully selects which items to show, in which order and to which consumer segment (that if machine learning is in place). In other words, etailers’ search algorithms set the filters that allow or block products’ access to the online shelf after a search term has been entered. Ultimately funneling consumer products offer and brands’ visibility.

Goes without saying that this has an enormous effect on brands, which can see their online sales either rocketing or plummeting as a result of algorithm updates, plus they lack the privilege of accessing this black box of online surfing, since it’s carefully kept secret from brands’ sight.

In this scenario, e-commerce IT lifeguards need to step in with tactics to reengineer the algorithms and work towards positively affecting it to brands’ advantage. It is not simple – white labels might have advantage over private – and we can’t ignore possible side-deals that might benefit some brands’ SEO over others.

All in all, retailers’ search algorithms are here to stay, and if private brands don’t keep up with them and their backend teams, they’ll easily see their online sales performance fluctuate at their will.