In order to maximize your reach as an online seller, one of the best strategies is to expand into additional online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart or Jet. The logic for this is straightforward. More marketplaces bring more eyes to your products, which bring more buyers.
According to Statista’s Digital Market Outlook, it is estimated that 230 million Americans will make an online purchase this year, spending a total of $474 billion. No longer is it enough to be just on one channel, there are many choices out there for people to buy online, and as a seller you want to be as many places as possible.
Why one channel is not enough
When traditional brick and mortar shopping was king as the only option for buying goods, most people stayed very loyal to their neighborhood market. Now in the online world, although there is some level of brand loyalty to shopping destinations, there is also a greater ease to price shop between different marketplaces. If someone does not find a certain product or price on eBay they may go to Amazon, if not on Amazon, they may go to Walmart.
Additionally, precisely because some people are loyal to certain marketplaces, having a presence on multiple marketplaces increases the potential pool of buyers for a product.
What tools are required for multichannel success
Selling across multiple online channels requires many moving parts to coordinate seamlessly. In order to ensure your internal processes are correct, and your customer base has an overall positive experience, the flow of information between all of the marketplaces and web stores is imperative. Therefor, it is essential to take into account these 4 key components:
- Inventory Management – Maintaining proper inventory counts across all of your listings is critical. Overselling products and having to then cancel orders is a sure fire way to cause negative feedback. Inventory management is even more essential when working with one, or multiple vendors. In order to prevent these occurrences, it is best to have a central location to house all inventory and then send updated quantity counts out to your listings on multiple marketplaces. This creates a unified, central location with accurate quantity to then disperse to your listings – keeping all inventory organized and in one place is an essential component to multichannel success.
- Order Management – Once you are selling on multiple online marketplaces, you will need a hub to pull in the orders and fulfill them as fast and efficiently as possible. If you are drop-shipping, then the order information needs to make its way to your vendors. This inventory management technique eliminates the cost of holding inventory altogether. When you have a drop-shipping agreement, you can directly transfer customer orders and shipment details to your manufacturer or wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to your customers. Thus eliminating the cost of keeping goods in your own warehouse, plus you get to save on upfront inventory costs, and benefit from a positive cash flow cycle.
- SKU Management – In order to keep your products in order, it is essential to have either an established SKU methodology, or a SKU alignment strategy for your listings across all of the online channels you are selling on. This gets a little tricky when dealing with multiple vendors who might use different product assignment codes. Ultimately, if you are able to align your SKU’s at the inception of creating the listings, that is a sellers best case scenario. If this is not possible, you can use a multichannel marketplace platform to assist in grouping together goods. Ultimately, the end goal is to keep inventory counts aligned across all marketplaces, so SKU management is an important component to the be a successful online seller.
- Listings Management – Managing and maintaining listings across your online channels will help maximize your sales. Proper management of everything from images, descriptions, bullet points, pricing and meta data is essential to online selling success. Customer feedback is a key component in driving listings sales conversions, as customers trust in a merchant will compel them to convert the sale. It’s proven that customers are more apt to buy from sellers that have higher customer satisfaction rankings and positive feedback. Trust is an enormous factor in online purchasing decisions, and it becomes the difference between customers adding inventory to their cart or not. In fact, 85% of consumers now say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If a potential buyer doesn’t fully trusty the seller, or know that they have been verified by their peers, then making the sale will be challenging, if not impossible.
- Content Management – Content is king. Successful listings must have stellar images, clear and concise descriptions and garner as many positive customer ratings and reviews as possible. When it comes to amassing content, a preferred method of listing to multiple channels is to utilize a platform to house all of the data necessary to expand your listings to additional channels. Instead of logging into each marketplace separately and redundantly entering data multiple times, this approach allows you to rely on one central location to pull together the necessary assets to fulfill the requirements for your listings. The content necessary involves everything from descriptions, product attributes to specific marketplace categorization and image URL’s.
What a successful multichannel strategy looks like
Having a multichannel strategy is key to establishing and growing a successful online eCommerce based company. First and foremost, you will need a reliable and robust inventory management software to keep your listings aligned. Quantity counts and pricing updates are the benchmarks for capturing the sale, and there is no better way to keep your listings consistently competitive than with the right software driving the entire operation. In order to maximize your efforts, you need a central hub to manage your operation. Platforms such as Solid Commerce are an excellent way for sellers to manage listings across multiple channels, and maintain all aspects of inventory and fulfillment.
Selling on channels like Amazon and Walmart allows sellers to piggyback on content already saved in their database, but if you are planning to expand your reach, you will absolutely need to have your own images hosted – this is something many sellers overlook, and it becomes a bigger issue when you are eventually looking to expand to mare sales channels. Having your own hosted images will especially come in handy when it comes to selling on a website like Shopify or Magento.
Best practice is to host your images on an FTP server. You can easily upload your pictures and content using an open source program like Filezilla. Having your own hosted images will ensure that the images are always available (eliminating the possibility of any broken image URL links) and ready to be used for creating new listings on additional channels. This is always the preferred method for your most important listing asset, the main image. You can think of your listings main image as the ‘cover of your book’ since it is the first thing potential buyers see. Though they say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, by and large people will not be willing to add your inventory to their shopping cart if the image isn’t good (or even worse, missing).
In order to stay competitive as an online seller, there are many advantages to branching out and selling across multiple channels. With the many options that people have available, and the prevalence of price comparison websites like Pricegrabber and Shopzilla, being listed on multiple channels, spreading your inventory across these channels, will only increase your potential for customers to find your goods, and ultimately capturing the sales.