The internet has enabled brands to sell more of their products to an ever-expanding universe of shoppers, but digital distribution has also added complexity to the relationship between brands and retailers and other channel partners.

All brands need to set parameters around the digital sales of their goods, regardless of the type of brand or which digital commerce channels are most attractive. Without a clearly defined strategy, brands risk losing share or being devalued with overly broad, even undisciplined distribution of their products.

Forrester’s new report examines the opportunities and risks facing different types of branded manufacturers when it comes to digital sales. Key takeaways from the report include:

Online marketplaces pressure brands to rethink distribution. Large online marketplaces like Alibaba and Amazon work with armies of sellers to offer consumers a broad assortment of products and strive to let them buy virtually every global brand. However, marketplaces don’t always get brands’ explicit approval to make their products available and set pricing.

Digital commerce for brands includes direct-to-consumer and wholesale sales. A comprehensive digital commerce strategy encompasses all the possible destinations where shoppers buy online: directly from a brand’s site, from another multibrand retailer’s site, or from online marketplaces.

Best practices vary for different types of brands. A brand’s best approach to digital selling depends on a number of attributes, including how frequently consumers buy the brand’s product and their level of emotional connection with the brand.