Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.
With strong marketing efforts and a well-designed website, you should be able to attract a high level of traffic to your site and convert a good portion of that traffic into paying customers.
But why limit yourself to just your site? There are many other sales channels out there (Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.) that you can use to find new customers and generate more revenue for your online store. And in tough economy times like these, keeping the revenue flowing is more important now than ever.
To expand a brick-and-mortar business, you’d need to invest a massive amount of time and money into acquiring additional physical storefronts, hiring new employees and more. Thankfully, expanding into new territory online is much easier and more affordable.
We’ll show you everything you need to know to get started with multichannel selling below.
In addition to helping you find new customers, multichannel selling offers many other benefits as well, such as:
There are also some drawbacks associated with multichannel selling, including:
Deciding whether or not to invest in multichannel selling shouldn’t be as simple as just weighing the pros and cons listed above. Every store is different — for many businesses the pros will far outweigh the cons, but that won’t be the case for everyone. It depends on the type of products you sell, the demographics of your average customer and many other factors.
Furthermore, each channel has its own set of plusses and minuses. Prioritizing the channels that are the best fits for your specific business will help you design the optimal multichannel selling strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at what a few of the most popular channels have to offer.
With 206.1 million monthly visitors, Amazon is the most popular ecommerce site in the United States by a wide margin. It doesn’t really matter what you’re selling — you’ll be able to find new customers here.
Another advantage to being a third-party seller on Amazon is that it lets you take advantage of the company’s sprawling network of 170+ warehouses with its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service. Using FBA also makes your products Prime-eligible, which means that Amazon Prime customers (82% of U.S. households have an Amazon Prime subscription) can order them with free two-day shipping. When you consider that 74% of online shoppers report that free shipping is the most important thing they look for at checkout, it’s easy to see how this can lead to more sales for your store.
One thing to look out for, though, is that Amazon has recently been crowding out third-party sellers by diverting visitor attention to products that they produce themselves. You’re certainly not getting in on the ground floor here — Amazon will help you make more sales now, but don’t rely on them too much.
The second-most popular ecommerce platform in the U.S. is eBay (109.4 million monthly users). You may not have considered this channel as an option for your store if you associated it with consumer-to-consumer auction sales (and indeed, that was the initial focus of this platform), but most of the sales on eBay now are actually in the traditional format of businesses selling products to consumers at a fixed price.
Like Amazon, eBay is popular across all industries and niches. Every ecommerce store should consider selling on this channel.
Image source: Etsy
Etsy also offers a large audience (56 million monthly users) for you to convert into customers for your store.
But unlike Amazon and eBay, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution for multichannel selling. People generally go to Etsy to buy handmade items or crafts supplies. If you sell something like original artwork or vintage jewelry, you can find a lot of success on this platform. But if you sell mass-produced goods, your time would likely be better spent focusing on other channels.
Image source: Newegg
Here’s another niche channel for your consideration: What Etsy is to handmade items, Newegg is to electronics (another similarity to Etsy is that Newegg has about 50 million monthly users). This is an especially useful channel for stores that focus on computers and computer accessories.
If electronics are just one of the categories of products that you sell, you could always sell a selection of products on Newegg rather than your whole inventory. In fact, you should be sure to use inventory management software that allows you to keep track of which products are performing the best across all your channels. That way, you can pull out your worst-performing products in order to minimize the cost of fees without losing much revenue.
With the help of these channels, you’ll be able to keep your sales figures strong through both good economic times and bad.