Level 3 - The Challenger


If you’re a Challenger (Bullseye Level 3) you’re clearly doing a lot of things well – we’ll assume you’re multichannel at this point – building a customer base across many platforms including marketplaces, in retail (wholesale) accounts, or by building your own brick and mortar.

Customers know your brand, and they understand why you’re unique. You’ve grown customer lifetime value and you know what works – and more importantly, what doesn’t -to encourage repeat purchase with your customer.


Sadly, you’re beginning to suffer from lack of systems to manage all of this channel investment. If you have an ERP (enterprise resource planning) tool you’re probably battling issues getting data into, or out of, the platform. You’re in an awkward puberty phase of growth where you need a lot of systems to keep growing but taking your foot off the gas to focus on those systems may slow down the growth you need to pay for those investments.

This is a very delicate time for your brand. Your customers will feel the growing pains: slow shipping times, poor customer service. You can set yourself up for success to avoid these issues by having internal customer advocates; those who repeatedly remind the team that the customer is why you’re in business. The most successful Level 3 brands dogfood their own products – they shop on their sites, find broken processes and fix them; they QA the tar out of everything they produce, and they ensure the highest quality of experiences by being fans of their own products and services.


Growth and processes can themselves be threats. Measured growth is how you build a durable brand. Brands who plateau at Level 3 usually find themselves capital constrained when trying to grow later. Customers easily fall into predictable purchasing cycles; you may be tempted to “sell ahead” from time to time in order to hit a goal. In those moments take great care – a poorly-timed sale campaign, at a low margin, may train the customer into a new purchase habit. Oftentimes brands encourage repeat customers to purchase out of cycle in order to take advantage of “can’t miss sales” and this low-margin return on an otherwise higher-margin customer can have dire consequences for a digital channel’s long-term success.


This is when your hard work is beginning to pay off. If you’ve gotten to Level 3 you’re probably beginning to earn media attention or build content that isn’t coming out of your own megaphone. Influencers love you, word of mouth is building, industry magazines cover you, and other brands are begging to partner with you.

There’s no more influential story to be told than that of your own brand’s story being told by someone else. Your customers can be your biggest advocates or largest detractors – partner with those that have their own audiences. Creative ways that you can build “earned media” in 2020 include: podcasts, blogs, newsletters/private ecommerce communities, meetups, in­ person events, networking, and pop-ups.

This is a great time to invest in “brand” – or, non-transactional content – to remind customers about your story. Many modern brands are involved in sustainability efforts, social enterprise, etc. Make sure this story isn’t lost among all the transactional communication.


Brands take a Challenger seriously. The Challenger has some history, is growing into multiple channels, and understands the importance of brand. Still, the Challenger can’t afford to lose ground, fighting upmarket with competitors who have more resources and global recognition.

Level 1

You are implementing basic ecommerce and marketing strategies. Your customers can navigate the site, enter the checkout funnel, and securely purchase products. But you have the potential to drive even more traffic and conversions, with some expert guidance.

Level 2

You are implementing more ecommerce and marketing strategies. You are actively acquiring new customers and streamlining checkout.

Level 3

You are improving the customer experience by incorporating personalization and allowing for user generated content. You are actively monitoring and improving performance.

Level 4

You are providing more services to your customers inside and outside of ecommerce. Even more marketing and UX improvements are also paramount.

Level 5

You have optimized your store throughout. You are innovating and offering better customer experiences than most.

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