Everything You Need to Know About Multi-channel Selling

Everything You Need to Know About Multi-channel Selling

Most eCommerce sellers begin their journey from one sales channel, setting up shop through a website or multi-vendor marketplace. Multi-channel retail is the best practice of selling merchandise on more than one sales channel.

In this article we will discuss all about multi-channel selling that will enable you to sell more, everywhere!

Multi-Channel Selling

What is multi-channel selling?

Multi-channel selling is the process of selling your products or services on more than one sales channel. Multi-channel management includes a mix of your own website, online store and shopping cart, multi-vendor marketplaces, mobile marketplaces and/or bricks and mortar stores.

In the old days, multi-channel selling consist of two options: brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs. Prior to the advancement of eCommerce, reaching a new customer base was mandatory on an entrepreneur franchising his retail store or getting his company’s catalog in front of a new shopper.

Multiple channels, multiple definitions

Some people define multi-channel selling as a combination of brick-and-mortar, catalog and Internet activity. Others say multi-channel selling can be defined as sales within the various online channels like single website, public marketplaces and shopping-comparison sites.

On the other way you can define it, tapping into multiple sales channels can increase opportunities for additional sales and help to expand your brand’s recognition.

Who should be multi-channel selling?

If you sell your products or services, you should be multi-channel selling. Regardless of your business size, selling on multiple sales channels provides retailers with an added advantage in competing with even bigger retailers.

What are the different types of Multi-channel retailing?

There are six main types of multi-channel retailing that can form part of your multi-channel selling strategy. These are:

1. Your eCommerce website and shopping cart (like WooCommerce, Shopify, Dokan).

2. Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy.

3. Mobile marketplaces.

4. Social media like Facebook and Instagram.

5. Comparison websites like Google.

6. Bricks and mortar store.

Each of the above mentioned sales channels offers their own unique customers, market focus, marketing efforts and benefits.

Advantage of multi-channel selling?

There are many advantages of multi-channel selling including:

1. Bring different potential customers in one shopping basket

2. Survive in the competition

3. Increasing touch points for the customers

4. Reaching your product to new markets

5. Combining marketing efforts

6. Expand brand recognition

7. Growth in Sales

1. Bring different potential customers in one shopping basket

You might getting great sales using just one sales channel but think about the millions of potential customers shopping elsewhere or on different platforms such as mobile and tablet.

Putting all of your customers into one shopping center is a dangerous game. Listing on multiple sales channels puts you wherever your potential customers are and allowing customers the freedom of choice in where they buy from you.

2. Survive in the competition

Online shoppers are shopping around. If you’re not on a sales channel that your competitor is, you will not only face problem but also your existence will be at a risk.

Listing on multi-sales channels puts you where your competitors are and where they aren’t – increasing your chances to survive.

3. Increasing touch points for the customers

It is very rare, online shoppers ready to buy when they first encounter your product or brand. Definitely, they’ll read reviews, think about it and look for the comparisons.

Multi-channel selling increase your touch points in front of the customer. From the beginning when they’re scrolling through Facebook, to when they’re comparing prices and delivery options everywhere you will be there. Thus, increasing your brand recognition and the chances of buying from you.

4. Reaching your products to new markets

Online marketplaces, mobile apps, social media, different comparison sites – they all have individual customer markets. If you’re only selling on one of these channels, you’re reaching only one market.

Multiple sales channels increases your reach by exposing your products to new and different markets and allowing price comparison websites to find and recommend you.

5. Combining marketing efforts

Multiple sales channel lets you take advantage of the marketing efforts, attention and technology used by the bigger eCommerce companies. They do the hard work to inform buyers about you, you’ve then got their(buyers) attention to drive them to your website.

6. Expand brand recognition

Big branded products are everywhere. In the super shop, online store, on the TV, in your emails and on your social media. And you are buying from them.

The same things happen with multi-channel selling. The more places you are, the more people come to recognize your brand and trust on you and your products.

7. Growth in Sales

The most obvious advantage of multi-channel selling is the opportunity to grow sales. New channels will bring in a percentage of new custom, that means you’re just doubling the sales you would make if you were to sell only in your store or on your eCommerce website. Profit is the key to running a successful business so a growth in sales could never displease.

Challenges of multi-channel selling

Multi-channel selling doesn’t come without its challenges, the main challenges are:

  1. Branding on every channel simultaneously
  2. Overstocking & Overselling Inventory
  3. Shipping
  4. Returns & Refunds
  5. Customer Support & Experience

1. Branding on every channel simultaneously

When you sell product on a single platform like on Amazon, you can invest your every single minute on focusing the sales and orders, marketing and promoting the products of Amazon account which definitely result in higher sales but when you deal with multi-channels, managing all channels becomes difficult.

You have to promote the products on every channel like eBay, Etsy, Walmart etc. along with Amazon to inform the user about your products and items. Since all platforms are not same, the overall task of branding and promoting becomes difficult to manage at the same time. The feature for uploading product images, videos can be different from Etsy, Walmart and other places which can affect the display of the product and might repulse the customers to buy them.

2. Overstocking & Overselling Inventory

Inventory management is the main challenge when you sell on multiple channels. Since every channel has its own buyers, anyone can click on the products you are selling, so a proper inventory management is essential for every channel but it is very tough.

Sometimes sellers run through overstocking which make them pay to the warehouses or sometimes they run out of stock thus reduce the sales. Also, overselling can be seen when you could not manage all channel accounts properly.

3. Shipping

Another major challenge that multi-channel sellers face is managing the shipping and returns. For different channels, the shipping, returns and refunds policies are different which add more hassles to the eCommerce store owners.

For example, Amazon allows MFN, FBA or SWA for shipping and manages the orders on behalf of Amazon sellers when they go for FBA but has a different policy for MFN. Similarly, every sales channel complies its sellers to follow its guidelines, this makes the sellers handle their shipping orders and more difficult when they have bulk orders from every platform simultaneously. To provide the shipping on time is tedious when you sell on multiple channels and marketplaces.

4. Returns & Refunds

Returns and refunds give the goosebumps to the sellers already and imagine when it is from each channel, then, it will shake the sellers totally and makes it difficult for handling them. Having returns and refunds affect the seller’s loyalty and trust and also result in reducing the sales rate. If it is not properly handled, it affects the brand reputation, future sales and also distract other customers while they make the buying decisions from your online store.

5. Customer Support & Experience

Customers are the king and that doesn’t change with more than one sales channel. Handling each customer and supporting them while they visit your store is very crucial and if you fail in proper assistance the customers can immediately leave you.

When you sell products on different platforms like Amazon, Walmart, Shopify, Etsy, eBay etc. handling every customer is a tough job. A single negative comment, disappointing feedback or low star rating affects the seller’s reputation and might mislead to other customers from making purchases.

How to overcome the challenges?

To ensure that you’re focusing equally on all the channels you use to sell products, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Make an individual product catalog of the products you are selling based on the set criteria of every channel.
  2. Save the product description in google sheet or Dropbox folder and on your server storage.
  3. To be escaped from overselling, out of stock or overstocking, update inventory regularly.
  4. For efficient inventory management, use inventory management software.
  5. To avoid shipping issues, hire the best shipping partner or shipment services like FBA on Amazon.
  6. Check all the fulfillment options and ensure the shipping delivery on time.
  7. Comply every platform requirements and work according to it to avoid any type of issue.
  8. Work with proper pricing and repricing strategy on every different platform to retain and attract the customers.
  9. Give priority to your customers and work according to their reviews and feedback.
  10. Synchronizing all your accounts of every platform will make your task easier.
  11. Hiring the third party service provider will be a wise step who can manage all the sales from every channel and update you on the inventory management.

What is multi-channel management software?

Multi-channel management software integrates your website, shopping cart, online marketplaces, mobile marketplaces, shipping carrier and accounting software, into one accessible platform.

Data automatically flows between your sales channels and allowing you to log into one location to run your eCommerce business from.

What are the benefits of multi-channel management software?

Multi-channel management software makes selling on multiple channels:

The four key points are:

Easy – Efficient – Profitable – Manageable

Listing management

Create, upload and edit all of your product listings in bulk, from one central location which includes descriptions, images and site-specific data. This type of software saves time, avoids duplication and drastically reduces errors.

Order management

View, track, process, update and download all order information from a central location, as well as creating packing slips and invoices. This reduces turnaround times, increasing customer satisfaction.

Inventory management

Inventory management software syncs your stock levels across all of your sales channels, preventing over-selling, and satisfying your customers.

Shipping

Multi-channel management software integrates with your shipping carrier to produce shipping labels, invoices and paperwork while simultaneously updating your sales channels.

Reporting and invoicing

Access and download real-time sales data to keep on track. This includes reporting on what’s selling the best, where, allowing you to be more strategic.

Who should use multi-channel management software?

Anyone selling on multiple sales channels should use multi-channel management software to save time, money and stress.

Criteria to select best multi-channel management platforms

There are many multi-channel management platforms to choose from. The key points while choosing are price, functionality and integrations.

Integrations

Make sure that the multi-channel management software integrates with the online marketplaces you want to use like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Wish with your shopping cart like Shopify, Dokan, WooCommerce etc. and with shipping carrier like Royal Mail, DHL, Yodel etc. and with accounting software.

Functions

As a standard, multi-channel management software should offer bulk product listing tools, order management, inventory management, reporting functionalities, accounting integrations and shipping label printing.

Pricing

Multi-channel management software should save your money by saving time and increasing sales. If the costs of the system outweigh what you’re saving, look for a cheaper one.

A Final Note

Multi-channel sales and an omni-channel experience can substantially impact your online business and drive eCommerce success. If you are not doing so already, take the necessary steps for your online presence.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that multi-channel sales are a journey that needs to be taken one step at a time. Start by expanding your sales channels one by one and test which clicks on your business. Over time your success is guaranteed, but putting yourself out there with all your resources can waste, as you scale to fast. 

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