Let’s talk about multichannel selling. What is multichannel selling and how do you do it?
The way that retailers sell their products has changed. It used to be that when you had a product to sell, you had to have a brick-and-mortar shop where customers could come in to browse and buy. Now, many shoppers browse and buy while at home, in their pajamas, in front of a screen. Gone are the days when having all of your merchandise in one place was an effective – and profitable – way to do business.
To reach today’s customers, you have to meet them where they live. That means on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Shoppers are tech savvy. They know how to find the products they want, when they want them, and at the best possible price. They don’t put all of their eggs in one basket, or rather, they don’t spend all of their money in one place. They jump at perks: faster shipping, lower prices, or a more varied selection.
So what does that mean for today’s retailers? It means that they not only have to stay competitive in regards to price and service, but they have to make their products more visible. They have to abandon the idea that they can sell everything in one place. They need multiple sales channels to do that. Multichannel selling is the only way to truly compete in online retail.
Let’s take some time to focus in on using multichannel selling to increase your visibility and grow your sales.
Why Selling on Multiple Sales Channels is Good for Your Business
If you sell products online, you already have a global audience. But if you sell on several sales channels, it makes it even easier for customers to find and buy your products.
The two big reasons you should consider multichannel selling are:
- To reach new customers
- Increase your sales
Multichannel selling lets you reach more customers. The customers who shop on your online store may not live in the same area as your brick-and-mortar. Customers who find your products through a marketplace, like Amazon, might not have ever heard about your online store otherwise. As your customer base grows, so will your revenue.
The Challenges of Multichannel Selling
As with everything good, there are some challenges to overcome when multichannel selling. These are the things you need to be aware of:
There are rules and restrictions for each marketplace.
Sometimes this means you can’t brand your store the way you want to. You may not be able to sell all products on each marketplace. For instance, Etsy has rules about sellers using outside manufacturers. Check out our side-by-side comparison of the marketplaces and their restrictions.
Managing inventory can be complicated.
Having your products for sale on multiple sales channels means that you have to manage the inventory across all of them, and that you are able to fulfill every order. The good news is you can easily obtain online inventory management software that tracks everything for you in one place.
Marketplaces often have fees.
These can range from monthly fees to a percentage of each sale.
Tax season can be challenging.
You have to pull information from each sales channel when you do your taxes.
Don’t let these challenges deter you from multichannel selling. They can be overcome. It’s worth the time and effort if you have the right strategy.
Deciding Which Marketplaces are Right for You
There are many marketplaces out there for you to consider, and deciding means you’ll have to do some research before you start multichannel selling. Just to get you started, here are a few of the most popular marketplaces to look at:
The original online marketplace, eBay is a marketplace giant. In the second quarter of 2016, it reported 180 million active users. You can find anything from electronics and cars to handmade goods and used clothing. As a seller, you can ask shoppers to bid on an item or buy it upfront.
The biggest player in the U.S. online marketplace scene with over 5 million sellers. Amazon is a retail powerhouse. The site offers millions of different products to an enormous audience, and it’s the go-to online store for your everyday needs as well as one of the best places to sell online.
Etsy is a bit like eBay, but is focused mostly handmade or vintage products. Perfect if you’re selling anything artsy and crafty.
One newcomer to the online marketplace scene is Jet, a startup that launched in the spring of 2015, and was bought by Walmart. The service carries branded products only, but for certain sellers it can be a great platform to reach new consumers.
Rakuten carries a huge range of products with a strong emphasis on electronics.
Sears offers a marketplace for sellers to list their products and expose themselves to a very large audience. The program requires a monthly fee but can be a great option for volume sellers.
Keep in mind that although the bigger marketplaces have a lot of traffic and name-recognition, there is also a lot more competition. Do your homework and find marketplaces that are tailored to your niche; bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Sometimes smaller marketplaces are more effective for sellers than the big ones.
Points to Keep in Mind as You Choose a Marketplace
You have to strategize when multichannel selling. You don’t want to make more work for yourself by choosing a marketplace that isn’t right for your products. As you compile your list of potential marketplaces, keep these two key points in mind:
- Your buyers – Attracting new customers is the goal, so look at marketplaces where you are most likely to find the type of buyer you’re looking for. Consider your niche – where do people search for your products?
- Your products – Research what type of products are sold on each marketplace on your list. Will yours fit in, but stand out? Are your prices competitive?
Once you consider these things, you should be able to narrow down your list to the marketplaces that might be right for you and your products. Then look at the fine print and choose the marketplaces whose fees you can afford, and whose regulations you can comply with. Make sure your products can compete and your target customers will be able to find you.
It’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Putting in the time to make the right choice of marketplaces can make all the difference in your business’ bottom line.