More and more people are going online to meet their shopping needs. With so many e-commerce businesses in the US, finding ways to get a larger market share when you’re building an online store can seem difficult. But with shoppers spending over $500 billion online in 2018 with US merchants alone, and with e-commerce sales continuing to climb, positioning yourself to succeed as an e-commerce business means taking advantage of successful sales and marketing strategies.
Amazon is the largest e-commerce business in the US and accounts for 40% of all retail sales in the country. E-commerce sales grew more than 15% in 2018, with online sales outpacing the growth of physical retail stores. And in the wake of this major trend toward online shopping, more people are purchasing items on social media, with 48% of online shoppers buying products or services via social media in 2018.
Successful business models used by companies like eBay and Amazon integrate multi-channel selling. Implementing multiple selling channels means utilizing different online marketplaces, which can increase sales and improve your ability to reach your target market.
Incorporating multi-channel selling ensures that you maximize your ability to drive sales, as each online marketplace attracts unique groups of buyers. Limiting your products to just your personal website can make it difficult to market your product, as websites like Amazon and Shopify already have developed and sustained traffic. Adding your products to selling platforms that already have a huge customer base gives you access to more potential customers, which can help build your brand and grow your e-commerce business.
The Benefits of Multi-Channel Selling
Using multi-channel selling is one of the best ways to increase profitability. In fact, 50% of marketers believe that multi-channel selling provides a positive return on investment (ROI) and has helped them meet or exceed their sales goals. Additionally, 72% of people who shop online prefer to interact with companies, businesses, and brands via multiple channels. Market research suggests that instituting such methods in your e-commerce business can lead to as much as a 24% greater ROI.
So how else can multi-channel selling benefit your e-commerce business?
1. Increased Revenue
When utilizing multiple online selling channels, your biggest advantage is increased profitability. Showcasing your products on several prominent selling platforms increases exposure for your business, which can help you build a larger and more loyal customer base. One major advantage of operating on multiple selling channels and using several different online marketplaces is that your customers are able to share your products online with others.
As social media websites like Facebook and Instagram are increasingly using e-commerce and online marketplaces, selling your products on those websites can easily allow others to share your products and help spread the word. When you post your products for sale on social media websites, it can create a much larger potential customer base, as 2.65 billion people worldwide are active on social media. Since larger e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon have almost innumerable sellers, standing out from competitors can be rather difficult on these larger platforms, especially if your products aren’t unique. Posting your products on multiple websites can make it easier to reach your target market. Platforms like Etsy specialize in providing a marketplace for individuals and businesses that create personalized products, while stores like Shopify are great for small or up-and-coming businesses.
2. More Information on Customers
By using a multi-channel selling approach, you have access to a much wider range of invaluable data and insights about your customers and their preferences. Customers are able to voice their preferences by posting reviews and sharing your products with others, which offers you the ability to better understand what you’re doing well and what things your business needs to improve upon.
Multi-channel selling gives you data on who your typical customers are, which can improve your ability to properly identify your target market and to select the right online marketplace to sell your products. Consumers can opt-in for marketing emails and other forms of communication, which can improve engagement. Understanding what type of offers and promotions your customers respond to can increase sales and help you create a more effective marketing strategy.
3. Adds Value to Your Business
Boosting sales and increasing profitability adds short-term and long-term value to your e-commerce business. Strong sales and increased revenue means your business can receive a higher valuation, which is important for several major reasons. Having a higher valuation can make it easier to raise funds for your company, which is essential if you plan to expand your business or request loans or funding to help your company grow.
A profitable business model simply means your company is worth more. If you eventually decide to sell your company, implementing successful and results-oriented selling strategies can help you get more for your business. More revenue also means a higher creditworthiness score for your business, which can decrease costs related to things like insurance policies and other business-related expenses.
4. Better Margins
Using a multi-channel selling setup can improve your margins. Understanding what products sell and which ones don’t can eliminate waste and excessive inventory. When you sell across multiple channels, you can get an idea for which products customers want most. Focusing on popular products can improve your margins in multiple ways. When you realize you’re quickly selling out of a specific product, you may be able to get a better bulk rate from your supplier, which decreases costs while increasing profitability.
Since each online marketplace has different fees, switching to platforms with the lowest fees for your highest selling products can also produce better margins.
5. Higher Engagement Levels
The social engagement aspect of multi-channel selling allows you to create strong and lasting bonds with your customers. Allowing customers to share your products on social networking websites and post public reviews can improve your reputation and increase awareness of your company. Online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon allow online shoppers to rate sellers and vendors like you. Obtaining great feedback and higher ratings from buyers can improve your ranking in organic searches and increase trust in your brand.
Having great reviews also creates free publicity. Since 85% of shoppers research products online before completing a purchase, your online reputation matters. Responding to customers who leave great feedback makes them feel appreciated. Conversely, if a customer leaves a negative review, it provides you with the ability to rectify the problem publicly to show that their business is important to you.
6. Improves Customer Experience
In retail and e-commerce, customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance. Customers like engaging with multiple channels because it increases communication and transparency. Another benefit of e-commerce is that shoppers aren’t limited to when they can purchase an item, which creates a higher level of convenience that many brick-and-mortar retailers can’t meet due to limited store hours. People like to save time and money when shopping, so e-commerce offers the best of both worlds: almost endless options and the ability to check prices and shop anytime. Ensuring that shoppers are able to engage with your business and easily contact you with any potential issues not only enhances customer experience, but also prevents you from losing an unhappy customer. Since 80% of consumers have stopped shopping at a store or business because of poor customer service, multi-channel selling provides you with a cheap and effective way to create open lines of communication with your customers.
Getting Started with Multi-Channel Selling
Once you’re ready to start growing and expanding your e-commerce business with multi-channel selling, don’t let your options overwhelm you. There are seemingly endless options when it comes to choosing which online marketplaces to sell your products on, and finding the best ones for your business can take some time. Proper research is the best way to begin your journey in opening up a multi-channel e-commerce store.
1. Who Is Your Target Market?
Identifying your target market is the first step you need to take before listing your products on various marketplaces. Each marketplace attracts a different group of customers. Understanding the average age of your target customer is important, as some platforms like Shopify are more popular with younger generations, while Amazon is more established among older age groups.
2. Decide What to Sell
Knowing what products to sell is another important step in setting up a multi-channel selling stream. Since online retail means shipping your products to customers, try to avoid (when possible) from bulky products or items that are expensive or difficult to ship. Additionally, certain online marketplaces tailor towards specific products. While Etsy caters towards crafters and artists, eBay is great for things like consumer electronics or used goods.
Make sure you research what products sell best on each marketplace to prevent having a surplus of inventory that’s difficult to move.
3. Find the Right Tools
Tracking inventory and listings across multiple selling platforms can become time consuming, especially if you’re doing so without the aid of software or tools. Having to individually create the same listing on multiple websites can leave you prone to making errors or creating posts that are inconsistent between different websites. Plus, having to log in to each account every time you complete a sale can become inefficient.
Luckily, there are a ton of options when it comes to software that helps you automate many aspects of your e-commerce business. Software, like Skubana and BigCommerce, can help you track all your listings in one place, meaning you can manage your products from one dashboard instead of having to manage your posts on each website individually.
Inventory tracking is another major benefit of implementing automation software. Since items can sell out quickly, having to change inventory whenever you sell out can lead to backorders. Certain software can notify you when your stock is running low and allow you to automatically reorder items before you sell out. Additionally, multi-channel software stops backorders and prevents customers from placing orders for products that have sold out.
4. Utilize SEO
Marketing matters. Using the proper SEO terms and titles for your listings improves profitability, as it leads to a higher search ranking. For example, if a customer is looking for a cell phone case and searches “cell phone cases” on Amazon, your listing can rank higher on the search results if you use the right terms in your sales post. Focus on adding terms that customers would commonly use to search for your specific product or similar products.
Make sure that you use current popular keywords as well, as it can help your posts remain current. There are SEO consultants that help with just this.
5. Use Quality Images
While using stock photos is sometimes unavoidable, try to use original photos for your products as often as possible. Avoid posting just one picture and try to take pictures from multiple angels to help showcase your product. Customers purchasing items online rely on accurate product descriptions and images to dictate their decisions on whether to purchase the items.
It’s also very important to use images you have rights for, meaning that you can’t just download random images of your product online and post them. Taking original photos is a great way to help your product listing stand out and avoid any potential copyright infringement issues.
When you post your products on multiple websites, make sure that the item descriptions and prices are accurate and consistent. Customers will notice if your items are cheaper on one specific platform, which can hurt your sales in the marketplace where they’re listed for a higher price. Even though each platform charges different fees—for instance, some websites may take a larger commission for your sale then others—price transparency is important.
Overall, using multiple channels to boost your sales is one of the best ways to grow your e-commerce business. Learning how to leverage the power of various online marketplaces may take some time, but the proper tools and software automation can help you improve revenue while saving you valuable time.
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