As technology and customer buying habits are evolving, eCommerce retailers are changing their business practices to meet their customers’ needs. Businesses of all sizes are opting to sell products through multiple channels – branded websites, online marketplaces, mobile apps, social media, and more. And, from our experience, some of the most successful online retailers are the ones who are quick to embrace changes in consumer behavior by expanding to fresh retail channels where buyers are shifting.
It can be daunting for eCommerce business owners to expand to multichannel selling, especially if you are new to the industry. But, in the interest of growing your enterprise to new heights, it’s vital to break free from your comfort zone and test new ways of doing business.
To push you in the right direction, here are some compelling reasons to shift toward multichannel selling.
Where to list your products when adopting a multichannel selling strategy
Every retailer knows that the more visibility a business has, the more opportunity for increased sales. But what you may not know is that selling on multiple channels means more than just having a website to go along with your brick and mortar store. It means establishing a presence on various channels – both online and offline.
Some of these channels can include:
• Online marketplaces: These are websites like Amazon, Walmart Marketplace or eBay, where you sell products, but have limited freedom for store branding and capturing customer demographics. Marketplaces are convenient in that they deal with all sales processing, but you will have fees for listing products and a lot of competition.
• eCommerce platforms: This is your branded online retail store where customers make purchases and you capture their demographic information for future marketing strategies.
• Offline opportunities: This is any retail transaction not done online. The possibilities extend far beyond merely having a physical storefront; consider expanding your sales opportunities to catalog sales, trade shows, local markets, and more.
What multichannel selling can do for your business beyond increased sales
While making profitable sales is always the end-game in eCommerce, multichannel selling helps savvy sellers to build their businesses in other, less obvious ways. The beauty of all these added bonuses from multichannel selling is that their effects will compound over time and help you accelerate your growth, not just increase it.
Below are some of the added benefits of multichannel selling:
• Building an eclectic customer base: Some shoppers are loyal to Amazon, others will shop around for the best prices. By putting your products in front of potential customers in different sales channels, regardless of how or where they shop, your visibility and customer base will grow.
Consider that Amazon currently makes up nearly half of all online sales and close to 4% of all retail sales, online and offline, in the U.S. While those are both massive amounts, there’s still plenty of opportunities elsewhere to build your business and find atypical consumers who prefer less popular places to shop.
• Creating a consistent customer experience: To approach multichannel selling correctly, you have to give your customers a unified experience across every channel you use to sell your products. A consistent appearance across all of your sales channels cements your brand as professional and creates a feeling of trust toward your products.
In addition, you should strive to handle customer service and returns exactly the same across each sales channel you use (which should be simple as long as your customer communications are filtered into the same place). Even if customers have issues with you, they can turn into advocates for your business if you handle their problems with class and grace, which, in turn, will help increase customer engagement across all platforms.
• Focusing on select markets: Based on how your customers shop, you can create targeted marketing efforts, personalized offers, and coupon codes. A good example of using coupon codes strategically is to follow up with any potential customers who’ve abandoned their carts with an automated email containing a small discount. Or, send an email to your best customers (anyone who’s given you repeat business should qualify) before special events, holidays, and other key shopping times throughout the year.
• Managing risk: If you are selling on multiple channels and one isn’t doing well or an account gets suspended, your business will not go under. You have other channels to support your business, thus hedging your risk.
• Improving branding and authority with customers: When your customers and potential customers see that you have a strong-branded online presence in more than one retail area, it shows that you are professional, forward-thinking, and responsive to customers.
How selling through multiple channels improves sales
It’s time to get down to the real business behind going multichannel: increasing sales. Although there are operational considerations and complex issues when adding sales channels to your business, it will improve your bottom line by providing you with:
• Increased reach: When you add sales channels, the reach for new customers is bigger, allowing you to increase distribution. Even if your business is small, consider the vast number of customers you can reach if you add Amazon or Walmart. This added exposure most surely will result in added revenue.
• Added convenience for your customers: Some customers always search for the lowest price – that is the sole decision maker when buying online. But, many customers are willing to pay a little more for the convenience of transacting with businesses that have excellent customer service, return policies, and fast shipping. When you make things easier for customers, they will come back and buy more.
• More customer engagement points: Engaging your customers is key to the success of your business. Additional sales channels gives you more opportunities to touch customers to build brand recognition and increase sales.
• Increased customer information: When you work with multiple sales channels, you will gain access to more information about customers. More customer information will help you to market strategically and be more effective with brand awareness campaigns. Once you know more about your target audience, one tactic we recommend is segmenting your customers into different lists based on historical purchase behavior (including how much they spend and what product categories they gravitate toward) so you can send targeted email communications to them with promotions and offers in the future.
The bottom line on selling through multiple channels
Multichannel selling is a strategy that will benefit you, your customers, and bottom line. If you’re currently working with just a store website, consider taking the leap to a new sales channel.
Perhaps baby steps will be in order, where you only add one new sales channel to the mix at any given time. Once you become comfortable with new selling arenas and start to see the benefits, as well as learn about new potential pitfalls, you’ll likely find it worthwhile (and easier) to incorporate more channels into your business over time.
Just be sure that your business can handle the increase in sales, maintain flexibility, and be prepared for the unexpected by keeping cash on hand for emergencies and unanticipated opportunities.
Also be sure your products are always priced properly across all of your channels, otherwise you’ll likely leave lots of sales on the table. To effectively manage your prices, we recommend using an automated repricing platform that can handle optimizing the prices of all your listings continually, helping you boost sales and profits while also helping you avoid a tedious task that’s handled more efficiently and effectively through automated as it is.
This guest post was written by ecomdash. Ecomdash offers an end-to-end inventory solution for eCommerce entrepreneurs, enabling them to confidently sell in more places like Amazon, Walmart, and more.