The Challenges of Multi-Channel E-Commerce: Sensible Solutions for Modern Merchants
Attracting the attention of online shoppers is a constant challenge for any modern merchant. People have become accustomed to comparing prices and reading product reviews from a range of sites before making a purchasing decision.
In business terms, the act of researching a product for various prices and consumer reviews before choosing the online store to complete the purchase is known as multichannel e-commerce. Yet most online store owners don’t realize how beneficial it can be for improving conversion rates and boosting sales.
What is Multichannel Selling?
Multichannel selling involves selling across a variety of channels, so it’s important to have your products displayed on a range of different platforms. Ideally, an online merchant should aim at listing products on some of the following:
- Your online store: Chances are you already have your products listed on your online storefront. You’re able to sync your inventory across various channels easily from there.
- Online marketplaces: Getting your products listed on other online marketplaces, such as Amazon or eBay can increase overall visibility. Large marketplaces attract huge visitor numbers, so you can benefit from the added exposure.
- Social media: One of the best ways to attract more attention to your products is to display them on various social media platforms. You might have a Facebook business page, along with ‘Buy Buttons’ on images posted to your Instagram or Pinterest accounts.
- Physical storefront: Many online merchants also choose to sell their products in physical storefronts in the real world.
Should You Take Advantage of Multichannel Selling?
Many merchants focus on retaining control over your own product listings on your online store and your own social media platforms. However, by having your products listed across multiple channels, you automatically increase your exposure, which flows on to boosting your revenue.
The difficulty most merchants face is keeping up with so many different outlets. It can be time-consuming following reports and sales stats on a variety of sites, but the process can be streamlined if you have your inventory programs and POS systems configured to encompass all of your outlets.
Overcoming the Challenges of Multichannel Selling
Having additional outlets and marketplaces to monitor can initially seem time-consuming. It may also add new challenges to your normal business operations. These can include:
Managing your inventory: Keeping up with your inventory sales across multiple channels can be challenging. It’s important to have a good inventory management program capable of tracking sales from so many channels. Otherwise, you risk selling the same item twice.
Consistent pricing: The world of online shopping makes it easier than ever for customers to compare your pricing across different platforms, so it’s important to be consistent across the board. Apps like Amazon repricer make it easy to ensure your prices are not only competitive but are also consistent on the channels you have them listed on.
Shopping cart: A major challenge for merchants selling across various channels is choosing the right shopping cart software to facilitate sales. The objective is to make purchasing your products as easy as possible for your customers, so choose a shopping cart program that is multichannel compatible, such as BigCommerce or Shopify. Some shopping cart POS solutions give you the opportunity to integrate with some social media sites, which can help reduce problems with inventory errors. An integrated system also allows you to keep your sales information organized on the one convenient dashboard or reporting system.
Tax calculations: Keeping up with different taxes over several sales channels can be a headache at tax time. Fortunately, there are software packages that integrate with multichannel sales platforms quickly and effectively, such as TaxJar. TaxJar can integrate with PayPal or Stripe if you want to link it directly to your payment provider. The program is also able to integrate smoothly with Amazon, eBay, WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce, among others.
Adding new channels to your sales distribution network can be a great way to broaden your potential audience and potentially reach customers you may never have reached before. It’s also a healthy option for increasing brand awareness and boosting your sales.
The key to keeping up with the challenges multichannel selling poses is to ensure you have the right systems in place. Keep a tight rein on your inventory controls, integrate and sync the platforms you choose to use, and take advantage of the software, plugins, and apps available that can help streamline your efforts.