Private labelling: what's your experience of it?

Herts, England United Kingdom
Kudos: 11,516
Joined: Jan 1, 2001
Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
20 May 2015
Private labelling is adding your own branding to a generic product, and there's a LOT of hype around it at the moment.

As an online seller, what's your own experience of private labelling? Do you do it much? What's the impact on your business? Any downsides?
Andy Geldman, Web Retailer
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London United Kingdom
Matt Thorpe
Kudos: 204
Joined: Oct 15, 2014
Re: Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
20 May 2015
Hi @Andy,

Whilst private labelling can be a good opportunity it can also cause problems because there is no unique selling point. The internet is a very small place when people want to research a product. Finding a similar or cheaper product is only seconds away. You only have to look at the many similar products on Amazon and eBay sold by different 'brands'.

My opinion would be to focus your efforts on working with a manufacturer to design a unique product that your customer want. This will give you the edge in terms of marketing it and means price competition shouldn't be an issue because there is added value there.

Don't fall into the trap of simply re-labelling a product just because you've seen a big brand sell lots of them. You may get some short term success but it will be short-lived. The big brands will clear up and you will be left with lots of stock that you need to flush out.

Be unique and develop your brand!
United States United States
Kudos: 108
Joined: Dec 13, 2012
Re: Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
20 May 2015
Have not tried it. What I do a lot of is bundling complementary items together, especially where I have a lot of competition on a popular item.

Cascais, Portugal Portugal
Five Million Dollars Site
Kudos: 93
Joined: Feb 20, 2015
Re: Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
20 May 2015
@tall-corn It all depends. Even the "Big" ones do it. All car audio gear from Mcintosh is actually made by Clarion. their turntable is also made by Clear Audio. Car manufacturers do not have their own audio units, they also have them made elsewhere. Volvo uses Clarion, Mercedes, Porsche, BMW and many others use Phillips, Nokia, and many other makes. Only a few Higher End cars use the brands name on the units. (B&o, Linn, Mark Levison, B&Ws etc) So, there is no problem in re branding as long as you do not re brand "crap" Bottom line, the OEM market is full of excellent products you can re brand you just have to make wise choices
Hudson Ohio United States
Kudos: 65
Joined: Feb 20, 2015
Re: Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
21 May 2015
My perspective is from selling private label products in enthusiast/hobbyist markets. Over the past 30 years I've been responsible for private label programs for online retailers, and now my agency helps clients market their private label products.

We've done enough focus groups and market research in enthusiast markets to know it's no secret if you're private labeling a product. Enthusiasts and hobbyists usually know who makes what, no matter what the label or the box says. So, to start, if you're going to private label an existing product it will be difficult to differentiate from other online retailers. That's not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it's helpful and often more profitable to stand out from the competition when selling online.

If you invest some merchandising and marketing into a private labeling program you can come up with offerings to stand out. For instance, think of ways to bundle products in a unique way. Try to create a combination of products that does a better job solving problems for your customers than what your competitor sells.

Here's an example: Let's say you're selling a private label products to automotive enthusiasts. Do you include every nut, every bolt, better instructions, and all pieces/parts that the customer needs to install the product? Or, when your product is delivered, have you instead created a new problem for the customer, i.e., he has to run out to a local store to find some small part in order to install what he just purchased from you?

In my opinion a good private label program should help you stand out from the competition and do a better job solving your customers' needs. Do that and sales will come.

I've always admired the private label program from If you look at a Cabela's brand product, and compare it to a similar product, there is usually some point of or more additional features or benefits that make it difficult to do a direct comparison to other branded products. The Cabela's approach is out of the reach of most online retailers, but it's a good model to aspire to.

Private labeling can be very profitable, but try to avoid a "me too" private label program.

Best of luck!
Jon Hedges

[Last edited: 21 May 2015]
Jon Hedges - Hedges & Company
Digital marketing agency serving enthusiast markets.
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Derby United Kingdom
Kudos: 49
Joined: Apr 3, 2015
Re: Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
21 May 2015
I ran several private or white label dating sites for 3 years, it was a great way to test the marketing without building an expensive website but as so many affiliates used the same database it could not run as efficiently as my own sites but at least I had a site with a million members from day one without giving memberships away.

The other side of course is that many of the users who tried to sign up had already registered with my competitors who were other affiliates. I would suggest that people could use white label to test the market and refine your techniques if this is a market sector you have not been involved in before.

In a way I am still in the private/white label market as I resell template built websites, the difference is I build the sites for you to a very professional level as I have over 15 years experience. I sell through my own website and provide additional value and supporting services such as photography, marketing and site monitoring. For some projects I do still build custom solutions as required, in fact I am in the middle of one right now. Try private label and prepare to migrate later, you can always establish your brand this way especially if you are new to retailing on the internet.

[Last edited: 21 May 2015]
Seattle, Washington United States
Cascadia Seller Solutions
Kudos: 55
Joined: Jun 23, 2015
Re: Private labelling: what's your experience of it?
28 Jun 2015
I ran the private label compliance team at Amazon for a few years. The most important consideration (imo) because this can get you shut down entirely is to make sure that there aren't any trademark or patent violations. A lot of the OEM items getting successfully private labeled couldn't be patented or the patent already expired so it's okay to copy it. The second make or break issue is customer safety - will it burn down someone's house, choke a baby, or poison someone? Then your inventory is garbage and will cost you far more than it's worth to sell. Once you clear those two legal hurdles, then start thinking about customer acquisition, getting sales, and maintaining quality, and so on.

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Seller Dynamics