A guide to multichannel selling
The future of the e-commerce industry is, with no doubts, multichannel selling. This basically means that as a retailer, you must go (and bring your products) where your customers are. You have to be flexible and resilient - especially if you want to sell on different channels – to keep up with your competitors and be in the real running to grow your business.
Sellers who embrace the “sell-more-and-everywhere” attitude are the most successful. This guide to multichannel by Bezos.ai wants to offer you a complete set of guidelines to approach this marketing strategy and prepare your business to increase sales. We will talk about all you need to know to start the multichannel adventure.
Big players on the marketplace
Before starting to list your products on online marketplaces, you need to know which ones are the giants in this industry. Here’s a summary.
Who doesn’t know it? A true must-sell marketplace. Only during May 2020, Amazon.com had over 2.5 billion combined desktop and mobile visits, up from 2.01 billion visits in February 2020. As all platform, it has advantages (such as customer loyalty management and easy checkout) and inconveniences (marketplace fees, restrictions on branding, lack of data collection for marketing purposes).
The ancestor of Amazon. Selling, listing and managing your inventory is pretty easy; moreover, if your goal is to go international, eBay is the place to be. It has its downsides too: fees that can vary based on the items you sell and the methods you use to sell them and a 180-day return policy, appreciated by customers but not always by retailers.
This is a niche platform, specific for hand-crafted, artisanal or vintage items, hence you should choose this marketplace if your items fall in one of these categories. Being quite structured, Etsy is a bit limited when it comes to shop customisation; in addition, being very specific, you need to be aware of the high competition.
Apart from the giants and already very well-known marketplaces, you have many other options according to the type of goods you sell: Newegg for automotive, electronics, sporting products and office goods; Rakuten.com for computers and electronics, but also sporting goods, home and garden, health and beauty etc. Shopandmade.com and Zibbet.com for handmade items.
Also, we cannot avoid mentioning the many social media shops, to be considered as a great addition to your multichannel repertoire. Of course, not all of these channels will be ideal for your business. You will need to research, analyse, budget taking into account all fees and then determine ROI to make the best choice. Another smart move is to differentiate your inventory according to the channel you decide to use; you should figure out which products you can compete on with price and which maintain a unique status (and for which you will just need a market research about pricing).
A multichannel strategy that works
A relevant multichannel sales strategy enables you to be there every step of the way, following your customers’ behaviours and trends. For example, did you know that it is quite common that a consumer starts buying online and completes the purchase in-store? This is mostly because they search for information online, comparing prices, reading previous buyers’ reviews and then going to a physical store to buy the selected item.
Same for the opposite scenario: how many of us go in shops to test or touch a product and then end up buying it online, because we found a better deal, or just for the convenience of ordering anytime and receiving the purchase at our door? The key of success for a retailer is in this mix of experiences: combine.
Offer your customers a purchasing experience that combines your online and offline channels and you will end up selling more, everywhere. The second key word is: diversify. The trending customer’s behaviours tell us that our clients want to have the possibility to consider different options before purchasing, and this means only one thing: you must be on various channels in order to maximise the impact of your business and gain more clients.
The future is multichannel
The traditional single-channel selling may be still effective to build your customer base, but to be in line with your customers’ evolution you need to switch to multichannel sales and redefine your strategy.
This format will be the future of all e-commerce. According to Shopify, more channels equals to more income, particularly by 38%, 120%, and 190% with each additional channel. As said, different customers will start their search for a product in different places.
The best way to increase your reach is by making your products available on the more than one platform. Customers like to have different options before deciding to buy a product, so your presence on different platforms will make the difference for your business.
Are you sure you know what multichannel actually means?
Let’s dive straight into it: multichannel selling means to sell simultaneously through different modes and channels to acquire customers and maximise the product/ service’s outreach. This means you can sell on online marketplaces, individual websites, mobile platforms and social media channels, as we saw before. If you like statistics, we put together some of them for you. Here are some statistics that unveils the significance of multi-channel retailing:
• 66% of online shoppers rely on more than one channel for purchases (Wharton);
• Multi-channel shoppers have a 12% greater buying frequency compared to the traditional shoppers who rely on a single channel.
• Multi-channel eCommerce customers have a 32% higher annual spending history than customers who shop at brick-and-mortar only.
• 73 percent of retailers find selling across multiple channels to be significant; only 38 percent consider selling on a single platform.
The advantages of multi-channeling
The primary benefits you will obtain from a multichannel selling strategy are:
Expand your coverage
You will expand the reach of business on a worldwide scale, connecting your e-commerce to several channels and increasing your product reach.
More exposure for your products means more potential customers. The maximised impact is perfect especially for new-born businesses, in need of boosting their online presence.
Effective targeting of clients
Multichannel allows you to save time and effort, as you will be able to target your clients from multiple channels at the same time.
eCommerce is a very volatile environment, with many disruption possibilities and always new trends. Multichannel selling is a great tool to minimise these risks.
More visibility for your products
Your products’ visibility will get a boost from their presence on many channels: this will help your sales and also your brand’s growth.
Follow customers’ behaviour trends
As we said, usually a client loves to have all the possible options before buying. It is a smart move to give them the possibility of choosing your products from several platforms at the same time.
1 Choose where
You need a platform to set up your online store. You have a variety to choose from, according to your needs: Magento, Opencart, PrestaShop and many more.
2 Decide you marketplaces
It is time for a crucial decision – where to sell your products? You will need to study the market you are entering, with a specific attention to the region you are working in, and your target audience to understand their shopping behaviour. After this, you will choose the most suitable platforms to sell your products.
3 Pick up a multichannel integration tool
This will allow you to list and sell your products on the different marketplaces you would like to be on. A multichannel integration tool will help you with your listing on the various platforms at the same time, centralising the operational aspects of the procedure.
The challenges of multichannel selling
A good business plan always takes into account the risks and challenges involved. In order to be prepared to face them successfully, you need to be aware of what these are. Here is a summary of the most common ones.
Production & demand forecasting
Each marketplace has a different customer base, which means also different requirements. To go multichannel, you need to consider the trends and demands based on various factors. Production and supply must go as the demand does, which can be tricky in specific geographical areas/periods of the year.
Cash flow bumps
Since not all platforms have the same payment method, you need to carefully consider this aspect. In some cases, the payment to the seller is transferred after the shipment; in others, it happens regularly every two weeks or even on a monthly basis. Take also into account the refund and return policy, which may affect your cash flow as well. Multiply this for each of the different platforms you are selling on, and you will understand that budgeting is key to avoid surprises.
Product description optimisation
Another aspect that you will need to tailor for every marketplace, according to their rules. Make sure to adapt your content for optimisation, following the guidelines of the platform.
Invest in the best platform
Carefully consider which platforms suit your needs and expectations, but especially your products. Trim your list after writing down all pros and cons and, if needed, consult an expert to be sure you are making the best decision for your eCommerce.
Multichannel leaders in Europe
To get started and choose your selling channels, have a look at the best European marketplaces:
Amazon, eBay, Etsy, ManoMano, Cdiscount, OnBuy, Allegro, Wish, Fruugo, Fyndiq, Spartoo, Rakuten, Bol.com, Zalando, Game, Real.de, Rue du Commerce, Fnac, 1688.com, Auction, Privalia, Asos, Darty, eMag, Joom
And if you need a fulfilment partner to boost your multichannel e-commerce, get in touch with Bezos.ai for a free consultation to find the best solution for your business.