Ecommerce is the Wild West of the retail landscape, with uncharted territory and treacherous missteps at every turn. Competition is stiff, and it takes substantial effort to develop sustainable success. The difficulty only increases when retailers spread themselves across multiple marketplaces to maximize sales, bringing added pressures for small businesses to manage new channels.
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though. Countless merchants have drastically increased their profitability, while growing well-respected brands—all without sacrificing operational efficiency. Knowing the tricks to identifying opportunities and leveraging the tools at your disposal will give you an advantage to take your business to the next level. Here are our five winning tips for maximizing multichannel ecommerce:
Define Your Strategy
Each channel you sell on has different strengths, and offers specific growth opportunities. Clearly defining what your strategy is for each marketplace or retail channel will help to paint the long-term picture for your company’s growth and success. Don’t just think about this, document it and circulate it throughout your team so everyone is on the same page.
Your ecommerce strategy should include goals for each one of your channels, with actionable steps to achieve those goals. Does one channel offer branding opportunities and editorial content? Does another channel offer partnership initiatives for improving your business operations? Incorporate these aspects into your strategy for each platform. This goes beyond establishing a promotional schedule with your marketplace partners, and defines how you approach those individual platforms and demographics in a targeted approach. The ecommerce strategy you create should be a healthy balance of brand-building and promotional activities, to create a holistic increase in sales and brand recognition to sustain long-term, natural growth. Think about how you can leverage the tools on marketplaces to have consistent exposure in different forms. Your channel partners have the data on what works and what doesn’t on their platform, so leveraging their guidance can give you a leg up. Understand that this strategy will help to define the actions you take today, tomorrow, and several months down the road. Not all product listings or channels will be home-runs right off the bat, and in fact, many might take a deeper dive to find the right customer demographic. Succeeding in ecommerce is a marathon, not a sprint; so don’t be discouraged if the first few months start out a bit slow.
Don’t Cannibalize Your Own Sales
Part of capturing ecommerce sales is offering promotional pricing to compete with the other merchants and compel shopper action. What that doesn’t mean is that your promotional schedule should be a simple “across-the-board” approach, where all the channels receive promotions at the same times.
When retailers do this, it decreases the impact of the promotion because customers see all the same pricing. Customers don’t register this as a “deal” and it lowers the urgency with which shoppers need to convert. Also, this generally doesn’t make your marketplace partners happy if they have specific campaigns aligned around promotional pricing.
Planning out a promotional schedule that aligns with your product roadmap is important, and avoiding overlap ensures that everyone is a winner. Your partners will be happy they are getting “exclusive” pricing, the conversions will increase because customers will see the price as an actual deal, and your business will be happy because you are increasing the conversion across each channel.
Stand Behind Your Brand
Regardless of whether you are a branded manufacturer or reseller, your online reputation is vitally important to growing and sustaining sales. A huge factor that goes into customer purchase consideration today is the seller and product ratings, especially when customers are shopping on marketplace sites.
Maintaining a high rating requires dedication, and responding to customer comments or reviews in a timely manner contributes directly to this. It might sound time-consuming, but the best way to protect your brand image is to communicate directly with customers to resolve issues—before they become damaging.
Note that some customers only leave reviews if they are very pleased or very displeased, which are both key points when your actions can be influential in shaping the brand image. There are too many times that a customer leaves a question or review that can be quickly addressed with a simple solution, only to have it left to fester and create far larger problems for the long haul. Seller ratings are much harder to turn around once they start slipping, and marketplaces offer transparency so future customers can see how you conduct business, for better or worse.
When merchants sell on proprietary sites, multiple marketplaces, and additional channels, order fulfillment and returns can suck up a huge amount of time and add complexity. Leveraging a retail partner that has a solid fulfillment system in place allows you to take advantage of their rates, which are generally far lower due to the sheer volume of packages being shipped.
Another huge benefit to having a fulfillment partner is being able to utilize them for multichannel order fulfillment, which handles all inbound orders from one, centralized portal. While you continue expanding, adding new channels becomes a simple and hassle-free process. Some platforms even offer returns and customer service assistance to further facilitate a smooth expansion process.
Global tech marketplace Newegg.com offers an end-to-end fulfillment solution called Shipped by Newegg, which provides support for inventory warehousing, multichannel order fulfillment, customer service, and returns. This program is on average 18% lower than competing fulfillment solutions, and can facilitate rapid shipping from any online channel- your own site, marketplaces, or otherwise.
Enhance Your Content to Cut Through the Noise
Having stunning product page content on your company site is great, but not extending the same care to your listings on marketplaces does very little to convert customers unfamiliar with your brand. A helpful way to frame this is to think of customers on marketplaces as completely new to your brand. If they have no clue about who you are, would they be motivated to purchase with your current listings? If the honest answer is no, you need to take action.
Rich images, relevant and detailed overview content, specifications, and accurate product titles help to not only surface your products higher in search results, but also put the best foot forward and have a far higher chance of converting sales. Video is actually rapidly becoming one of the (if not the) most important factors in not only customer shopping decisions, but also in boosting page rank in search engines. If your product pages contain rich video demonstrating the product in-use, with different angles, you greatly increase the likelihood of a conversion.
While combing through every product page you own and optimizing the content individually might seem like a nightmarish task, start small and try a more strategic approach. Tier off your products in levels of performance or importance to the business, and tackle those with appropriate optimization initiatives. The highest tier could get custom, visually-driven (often called A+) content, the next tier would get optimized content, and the last tier could be completed once the first two have been completed. Conducting an audit regularly ensures your product listings are informative and complete across different ecommerce channels for optimum results.
Multichannel ecommerce can be a great tool for brand building and lucrative growth, if you know how to properly leverage your assets. Following these tips will give you an advantage over the competition and help to streamline the entry into online marketplaces with sustained success.
About the Author: Greg Rice is a Marketing Manager and content creator at Newegg Marketplace, a global marketplace and division of leading tech retailer Newegg.com. With over 32 million customers, Newegg has cultivated a loyal following through in-depth content and promotional marketing, as well as actionable brand-building strategies for SMBs.