When you’re starting up an eCommerce business, one of the first questions you ask yourself is: Where should I sell my products? Should I host my own online store or set up a shop on Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Printful, or Walmart?
While these debates have some merit, they’re asking the wrong questions. As an online retailer, you should be diversifying your digital presence. Why put your retail eggs in one eCommerce basket and place yourself entirely at its mercy?
Taking a multichannel approach is one of the smartest moves you can make for your online business to endure growth, stability, and increased revenue generation.
Keep reading to find out everything you should know about multichannel selling and how you can make the most of any platform you choose to adopt.
What is Multi-Channel Selling?
Multichannel selling is the process of marketing your merchandise and making it available on different sales platforms. Rather than limiting yourself to one platform, you’re taking your business everywhere your target customers like to shop. This also diversifies your sales funnel.
For example, instead of selling your home decor pieces on Etsy alone, you can list your products on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Instagram, Pinterest, and even your personal website, should you choose to build your own.
When it comes to shopping online, consumers have many options, and they tend to utilize more than one channel. If you’re only present on one platform, you’ll have fewer opportunities to reach them and capture sales for your e-shop.
Multichannel selling allows you to get your products in front of a larger audience. eCommerce is only going to get bigger, and you’ll have more competitors to contend with. Now, more than ever, you need to position your brand for success by expanding your retail foothold.
Advantages of Multi-Channel Selling
Studies show that brands that leverage three or more channels to sell their products enjoy a 250% higher purchase rate than those that only use one channel. They also retained 66.12% more customers.
However, distributing your retail presence across multiple channels can do more than bring additional sales your way.
1. Target consumers at various stages of their journey
Succeeding at multichannel selling is simply a matter of taking your products to where your customers are. But you can’t reach your target customers without leveraging online marketing resources and strategies.
Most buyers research before buying something. You need to offer them the information they’re looking for. Write detailed product descriptions on each platform you’re selling on to help buyers in the consideration stage make informed decisions.
Create blog posts answering questions or providing solutions to questions they might have. User-generated content on social media can increase authenticity, while ratings and peer reviews on Google and Amazon can boost trust and traffic.
Get to know your target audience. Consider what they might need at each point of their purchasing journey, and use your different channels to meet those needs.
2. Get the advantage of various marketplaces
Some customers prefer specific platforms over others and will frequent their favorites more when shopping for items. Also, eCommerce platforms are constantly trying to one-up each other.
As a multichannel seller, your business and sales chances will remain secure when buyers showcase loyalty to one platform or if one retail marketplace subdues the rest.
Established marketplaces have built a ton of trust and a good reputation that you can leverage. People are more likely to buy from you when you’re selling on a marketplace they trust, even if they’ve never heard of your brand before. However, they might feel skeptical about shopping on the personal website of a brand they’re not familiar with.
3. Compete on a higher level
A wider retail presence means more sales opportunities. It’s that simple. Through multichannel selling, you can increase your store’s online visibility, drive more traffic, boost brand recognition, and claim a bigger market share.
Rather than living in fear of what policies or algorithm updates Amazon might institute next and how they’ll affect your business, you can assume greater control of your store’s future.
When you face issues on any front, you can still optimize your various selling channels to scale your business. Also, gathering data on your customers from different platforms will enable you better understand them.
Later on, you can use this information to create highly-targeted sales or marketing campaigns and make solid business forecasts.
The Sales Channels to Know
Selecting the right mediums is a challenging business but crucial for an effective multichannel strategy. Some channels are better suited to specific customer demographics and stages of a buyer’s journey.
Each one also comes with its own kinks and terms that you need to take into consideration. Knowing what your options are can make this quest less daunting.
1. Social media channels
Social media stopped being just about networking and talking to friends and family a long time ago.
Brands have begun taking advantage of it to spread awareness about their products, attract customers, and build connections with their audience. For example, some brands do giveaways of their products, enticing prospects into trying their product for free. So consider establishing a presence on the social networks your target audience hangs out on.
Some social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest have even integrated a retail shop into their platforms so people can shop the products they like directly without having to waste time searching the brand’s site for what they like.
You can learn a thing or two from how brands like IKEA, ASOS, and Barkshop are effectively honing their Instagram pages to increase sales and win customers as part of their multichannel selling strategy.
2. Your website
Building your own website and having a self-owned web store is essential if you’re serious about long-term success and growing your eCommerce business. This channel will give you control and flexibility over your operations and marketing activities.
It’ll enable you to customize the consumer experience to your liking. You can collect lead information, which will empower you to nurture and convert leads through email marketing.
Marketplaces are ecommerce platforms that allow third-party sellers to list their products on the sites in exchange for a fee or commission. They help process sales on your behalf and do their best to drive traffic to the site and your shop.
With proper optimization, marketplaces can help minimize marketing costs for your e-shop because they generate tons of organic and paid search traffic. Marketplaces offer a low-barrier entry into the retail space, and they’re great for capturing customers in the consideration and decision stages. They’re also a great way to keep your customer service on track by granting you instant accessibility to your target market.
Think Crucial, an online store selling replacement parts for household items, grew into an eight-figure business by listing their products on multiple marketplaces such as Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Wayfair, Jet, Sears, amongst others.
Consider the product you’re selling, your target audience, the competition, regulations, and fees when choosing marketplaces to sell on.
Managing the Elements of Multi-Channel Selling
Utilizing multichannel selling platforms will be meaningless at the end of the day if you can’t properly manage all the moving parts and ensure things are working as they should. Here are the most critical elements you’ll want to focus on.
Creating and tracking product listings can be a cumbersome process when you’re working with multiple channels. Luckily, there are many tools specifically designed to handle this time-intensive task for you.
Listing programs allow you to create a centralized hub from which you can upload and edit product listings across all your sales platforms. Beyond saving your time and energy, this software can also reduce or eliminate human errors.
2. Orders & Shipping
Consumers today want everything right away. They don’t like waiting for too long to get their orders which is why same-day shipping (knowing how much time standard shipping takes) is one of the most requested services on eCommerce platforms.
You need to ensure you’re updating and processing orders quickly. If you’re using a third-party logistics provider like Amazon, you have to make sure your merchandise is shipped to their warehouse on time so it can be delivered quickly to the buyer.
Investing in a sound order management system can help you accurately track orders and fulfillment in real-time on each of your retail channels.
3. Inventory and Reporting
You don’t want a situation where orders are rolling in, but you’re out of stock. This creates messy complications that can lead to you getting suspended from certain marketplaces.
Constantly updating your inventory levels across all your sales channels is the only way to avoid this, but doing it manually might not be feasible.
This is where inventory management software comes in. It helps you better manage the returns process and monitor and update your inventory across multiple platforms in real-time so you don’t sell more than what you can fulfill.
4. Tracking Your KPIs
You can’t know how well you’re performing, what strategies are making a killing, or even how to improve marketing results unless you’re tracking your KPIs.
The most important eCommerce KPIs you need to be measuring are conversion rate, inventory, customer satisfaction, order fulfillment and shipping, and competitor pricing.
Create Your Own Luck
They say it takes years to become an overnight success.
If you want your e-shop to rack up sales and become highly profitable, you have to work at it.
Lay the foundation by increasing the opportunities for interested buyers to find and patronize you.
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About the author
Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIN or Twitter.