Q&A: BrandShop's Andrew Simon discusses branding, consumer engagement

Andrew Simon is responsible for Strategic Business Development at BrandShop. He has spent the last 17 years in the Digital Commerce space and joined BrandShop in 2000. Before that, he was one of the founders of Confab, one of the leaders in store brands personal care products. Andrew brings a unique perspective to BrandShop, having been a CPG manufacturer himself for the first half of his career before turning digital.

Q. What is BrandShop?
We are the leading provider of branded digital commerce solutions for growing brands. We build and operate direct-to-consumer Brand Marketplaces for Fortune 1000 brands, bringing together best-in-class technology with decades of operational experience to drive direct consumer engagement and transactions. We currently work with more than 70 brands including Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Conair, Casio, Johnson & Johnson, Lifescan,  Cliff Bar and Duck Tape.
What is Branded Digital Commerce?
Branded digital commerce is what we have named our space and what we deliver for our clients everyday. It is defined by the carefully crafted, end-to-end online shopping experience for consumers where they can discover, learn about, and purchase products in a way that’s fully representative of the brand.  
What does BrandShop do for its brand clients?
Our mission is to help brands build the best shopping experience for their consumers. There are already a lot of channels where consumers can buy products and we’re not looking to replace that. What we are looking to do is optimize and differentiate their shopping experiences through Brand Marketplaces that best showcase the brand’s identity and its products. Before anything, it serves as a trusted source of information regardless of where the end transaction takes place. 
We do this by providing brands with end-to-end or modular solutions for everything they need to run an e-commerce business. This includes the technology, design, strategy, demand marketing, payment solutions, customer service and fulfillment and delivery capabilities. 
Why is it important for brands to enable direct-to-consumer transactions?
The mantra of marketing gurus these last few years has been consumer engagement. And with this engagement has come the expectation by the consumer to be able to transact. As the retail industry has been shifting towards omnichannel, it is now a necessity for brands to create and maintain a strong presence on every available channel — from the physical world to the digital one. Today’s consumer expects to more than just engage with their favorite brands, they expect to be able to transact directly both on and offline, We believe this is critical for brands who are looking to convert and retain consumers while building brand loyalty. Enabling direct-to-consumer digital stores gives brands the power to craft the customer journey from initial discovery to product delivery.
How does BrandShop affect third party e-tailers?
We’re not trying to take sales away from retailers, who are critical partners for brands. Our goal is to give consumers the best experience when shopping a brand or its products, without requiring that the transaction takes place on our Brand Marketplaces or elsewhere. But today’s consumers want every option available , including buying from the brand. Our stores act as showcases and in many ways continue the education for consumers and end up driving sales to other etailers that carry the product most often at lower prices.
What does BrandShop do for consumers?
For consumers, Brand Marketplaces are a game changer — they now have a single, trusted destination that they can visit to learn everything about a brand, from the different products that they make to the ingredients used in every product that’s being sold. We know that consumers want to be able to transact directly with a brand, and so, we’re helping brands build online shopping experiences that meet the new expectations of their shoppers. After Google, Brand Sites are the No. 1 place consumers go to for information. And as most Google searches result in the brand as the first option for information, a case can be made that brand sites are actually the No. 1 place consumers end up going to for information.
Where does BrandShop's talent come from?
We have been in this business longer than almost any other e-commerce company and have more experience with brands than anyone else on the market. I personally have been doing this since 1998 so there are not that many people that can claim this.
Our CEO, Reuben Hendell, was the former Chief Strategy Officer at eBay and earlier in his career was one of the founders of Digitas, the first digital advertising agency. I doubt there is anyone in the industry with both agency and commerce background as Reuben, who brings great strategic thinking to brands who want to build a relationship directly with shoppers. 
To spearhead the growth and operations of our Brand Marketplace Solutions, we have appointed Aaron Turner as Chief Technology Officer and Josh Kaplan as Executive Vice President, both joining BrandShop from eBay Enterprise where they had many years experience in e-Commerce technology and client services, respectively. 
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