What is Multi-Channel Selling and Why Should Your Business Apply It?
In the world of online selling, many retailers see an increase in revenue when they adopt a multi-channel sales strategy.
The traditional concept of multi-channel selling involves offering products through a website or catalogue in addition to a brick-and-mortar store. Over time, the concept has expanded to single-brand websites, marketplaces, social shopping sites, and price comparison sites.
Some people see multi-channel selling as a combination of selling in physical and online stores, while others account online channels only. In general, when you use more than one sales channel, you engage in multi-channel selling.
Multi-channel ecommerce allows consumers to buy natively from their preferred platform. Though the channels are not as integrated as in omnichannel ecommerce, options are available to the customer to not only buy the product — but to also interact with the brand.
Here’s how multi-channel selling works vary across different channels:
Buyers can browse products on Facebook through a brand’s Shop page and pay for it through the app.
In Instagram, brands can create shoppable posts, which users can tap to get more product details or add the item to their shopping cart from the retailer’s website. Pinterest has Product Pins which work in the same way.
Virtual marketplaces like Amazon and eBay allow third-party sellers to sell their products. The marketplace provides the seller with a place to market their products and process the transaction. On their end, the seller manages the inventory and product descriptions.
Once the transaction is complete, the marketplace releases the payment to the seller after deducting a fee.
Price comparison sites
Sites like Google Shopping, Nextag and PriceGrabber allow buyers to compare products from various suppliers so that they get the best deal. Once the customer decides to buy an item, the site leads the shopper to the retailer’s site for him to make the purchase.
More platforms mean a wider customer base.
Compared to using only one platform, multiple channels allow customers to see your product — upping the chances of a sale or recommendation. In fact, 72% of consumers prefer to interact with brands through multichannel marketing.
Multi-channel leads to increased revenue
Studies show that multichannel customers spend more. This is because they are price-savvy and take time to do comparison-shopping. When they buy a product from a brand which meets their expectations, they then become less sensitive to price. An IDC Retail Insights report, for instance, shows that multi-channel customers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one platform.
It helps sellers maximize cost
To make sure they’re breaking even, business owners have to account for fixed or overhead costs like wages, lease rates, and utilities. To reduce the cost of producing goods, you need to. When you successfully do so, you get the most out of what you are paying for fixed costs all while keeping prices down.
Retailers can diversify risk
A multi-channel sales strategy means that you aren’t dependent on one revenue stream. For example, if your physical store has to close down, you can continue selling on your online store. If your website is down or your marketplace account gets suspended, you can still sell from your brick and mortar store.
Ready to start multi-channel selling? Consider these factors first.
A multi-channel sales strategy might have its advantages, but this doesn’t mean you should blindly jump into it. While it may help you drive more sales and give you access to audiences which your traditional channel cannot provide, you must consider the challenges that come along with this strategy.
Customer experience should be top of mind for any retailer, so consider the buying process from the channel from your customer’s point of view.
Consider these questions:
Does the channel attract the type of buyers who you want to see your products?
What type of products are they searching for in the channels you have chosen?
How will your products fare with similar items from your competitors who are also selling on these channels?
By addressing these at the outset, you will be able to meet customer expectations which increases your chances of them making repeat purchases and thus boost your sales.
Selling on different platforms means having inventory frequently updated, making product listings consistent, and efficiently fulfilling orders. To automate the process, consider using online inventory management software.
Make sure your back-end systems can support increased orders before adding a channel or two in the mix. Alternatively, you can focus on one or two channels which are best aligned to your goals, then scale to other platforms once your capability increases.
You have to be aware of the fee structure and restrictions for each marketplace. Amazon, for instance, has a list of restricted products and categories which require their approval. As far as fees go, there are marketplaces like eBay that allow you to list up to 50 products for free. Others require sellers to pay a monthly subscription fee, product listing fees, and the like on top of the taxes you have to pay for selling your products. Read the fine print first to know how these changes will impact your business expenses.
Multi-channel selling is not a magical solution that will lead your sales figures to soar overnight. Figure out your goals and customer base first and how multi-channel selling fits into your overall sales strategy. By doing so, you will be able to choose the right platform or platforms where you can reap the benefits of using this tactic.