Guest blog by Visiture: In 2017, eCommerce sales rocketed past $409 billion – nearly $50 billion more than the previous year. By 2021, eCommerce transactions in the U.S. are expected to reach beyond $600 billion – how do you capitalise on this rampant growth? The key to unlocking the future of eCommerce is leveraging a multitude of platforms for product sales – AKA multi-channel selling – and we’re here to share how.
Multichannel sales enable online merchants to increase revenue by reaching a broader audience of shoppers when and where they are ready to buy. These sales channel(s) include popular destinations like eCommerce marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, various social media websites, messaging apps and other sales-oriented communities where prospects “live.”
Make no mistake, multichannel management is incredibly challenging; however, it is the future of the industry itself.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, 73% of online shoppers “…used multiple channels during their shopping journey.” Moreover, these individuals spent “…10% more online than single-channel customers,” and, interestingly, with each added channel employed, the more they spent. These folks also drop more cash in-store and are more loyal and more valuable to businesses in just about every way.
The fact is that the most profitable eCommerce stores are currently selling to their customers wherever they are already hanging out online. They utilize shoppable Instagram adverts, embedded Facebook stores and buyable Pins. They are present on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Wish and other major marketplaces.
Ready to join them? Read on to discover five necessities for crafting a multi-channel eCommerce management strategy.
Select portals based on profitability
The first step in spreading your single-channel strategy into a multichannel brand is carefully selecting which platforms you want to expand to based on which can drive the most profits. Consider:
⦁ Where your target audience “lives” online – if they’re not hanging out on Pinterest, then sinking money into buyable Pins will be worthless;
⦁ Your brand’s niche vs. the marketplace competition;
⦁ The best fulfillment and shipping practices for each sales channel; and
⦁ The seller fees or commission rates of each marketplace.
For instance, if you think your audience shops on Amazon (they do), you need to vet out the site’s competition volume for your product and pricing while also accounting for Amazon’s fees to determine if Amazon is a wise move for you. It might be profitable for some products and not for others.
We recommend starting by adding one sales channel at a time – allowing time for your operations to adapt.
Organize your inventory management
Before you start cranking out ads for your different marketplaces, you need to procure a stellar multichannel inventory management system. Without this, all your efforts will be futile.
Adding channels greatly complicates inventory management. As a result, nearly one-third of all retailers “…lack the inventory visibility across stores, warehouses and vendors in order to accurately promise orders.”
Each time an order is made on any of your sales channel(s), it needs to be automatically updated across the entirety of your ecosystem. For instance, if you have in stock eight red jackets and you sell one through eBay and four via Amazon, your website (and any other channels) needs to reflect that you only have three in stock to prevent problematic situations with customers.
The most advisable route for this is to obtain a single tool that can monitor and update your inventory and prices across all portals in real-time. Otherwise, you will likely end up in an undesirable situation that could cost you a customer.
Adjust strategies based on channels
Equally as important as selecting the correct channels for your customers, is employing the right strategy for a given platform.
For instance, offering free delivery on your website might be a big deal for some customers but it probably doesn’t mean much of anything to the Amazon Prime crowd. On Etsy, you may want to emphasize your product’s hand-made nature, whereas, on eBay, affordability reigns supreme.
By adjusting your product descriptions and highlighted features to fit various platforms, you stand a far greater chance of garnering sales.
Additionally, this same logic holds true when advertising products across different social channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. When advertising on social media, be aware of the audience, the tactics that work on various platforms and which products might perform better on certain sites.
Never sacrifice service
Bad customer service is a brand killer. Many of the most-disliked companies make the list because of sub-par service.
When extending your brand into new digital territories, it is critical that your customer service remains outstanding.
The fact is that most bad experiences will get shared online. On the flip side, 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
This can certainly be a challenge, but if your brand falters in this department, the expansion will likely have been pointless. As your brand spreads out into new markets, customer service will need to expand as well by hiring more representatives or, at the very least, employing tools to keep queries organized in a central location.
Constantly analyse performance
The continued growth and success of any business rely on analytics – even more so for multi-channel eCommerce sellers. You must constantly monitor and act upon your data for each sales channel so that you understand where your sales are coming from, know which sales channel(s) are falling short and take the necessary actions – AKA multi-channel management.
Platforms like Expandly provide multi-channel sellers with eCommerce analytical data, along with the tools and functionality to create your own reports to identify:
⦁ Which products sell best on which sales channel;
⦁ Which sales channel is generating the best profit;
⦁ Which products generate the best ROI for each channel;
⦁ And much, much more.
By regularly reviewing your eCommerce analytics, you can optimise each sales channel’s performance, increasing both your profits and ROI.
Selling through multiple channels is the next natural step for all eCommerce merchants. Instead of trying to drive customers to your website, meet them where they already are. Multichannel selling is a hugely profitable endeavour, though it can be massively challenging and complex. However, with the proper resources and knowledge, it can be very possible and even very easy to optimize your omnichannel retail efforts.
Visiture is an award-winning digital agency for online sellers – helping brands to thrive, outpace their competitors and capture more market share.