Have you heard of multi-channel selling?
If diversification is the key to keeping your investment money safe in the stock market, a pivotal role in your background experience in obtaining that dream job, and even the best way to ensure strength in a gene pool, then why not as part of your e-commerce business plan?
As business owners and consumers alike, there remains one constant that we crave – choices. If one choice doesn’t work out, we have other options to keep our interests safe. Those choices represent the key to the concept of Multi-Channel Selling.
What Is Multi-channel Selling?
In concept, multi-channel selling is as simple as saying; “We’re going to sell the same product line or product lines, with only slight modifications to the tactics used to sell them, through different venues (or “channels”) to reach a broader cross-section of customers.”
Or, in other words, sell the products in as many different online stores as possible while maintaining quality, customer service and profitability. One venue goes down, the others make up for it.
Make sense? Why would you do this?
Because sooner or later, selling YOUR products on one sales channel only, will result in flat sales or even a dip in profitability through either competition or lack of new customers.
Growing away from Amazon
Many online sellers in recent years have taken the approach of selling on Amazon.com as their only source of e-commerce revenue. Many have been successful taking this path, others just marginally so.
Unfortunately, more than a few have crashed and burned horribly after sitting down and doing the math with real-life figures that proved that their profit margins were just not high enough to make any money beyond the torrent of fees associated with Amazon seller profiles and the normal cost of doing business. Remember, someone gets paid to actually PACK those orders whether you ship to the customer directly or to Amazon fulfillment and it seems to get incrementally more expensive every year.
Growing to Amazon
Conversely, those who have not yet taken the plunge into the whirlwind of a thousand little fees that represent selling on Amazon, there are opportunities to be had despite the nickel-and-dime effect associated with Amazon sellers. The right product at the right opportunity can mean a literal fortune in sales…for awhile at least…as it’s hard to beat the concept of exposure to millions of customers per second. Should you consider Amazon as a channel…yes.
Should it be your only source of income? Well…
Always remember that there are other avenues to expand those sales channels, mentioned below.
Selling on Ebay
As the original “sell my junk” auction site, Ebay fights to keep itself on the teetering edge of peasant-friendly and business-friendly in its attempts at simplicity as well as feature-rich sales platforms that can appeal to all who visit. While not as dominant in the world of e-commerce as it once was, Ebay has maintained itself to be a multi-million dollar sales channel, regardless. As an e-commerce store, your largest obstacle with Ebay is a severe and ongoing problem with detailed inventory reporting, forcing a business to maintain a careful watch and system of inventory accounting on a separate system.
Your Own E-commerce Website
As mentioned in previous posts, crafting, developing and maintaining your own e-commerce website is an essential part of your branding and your foothold in the world of online sales – even if it takes longer to set up and get the kind of traffic to justify the ongoing expense.
If your product line is even marginally along the lines of consideration for the terms: “crafty, artistic, new age, handmade, homegrown, or outside the box,” then Etsy can be for your business as an extremely popular and rapidly growing sales channel.
Juggling and managing the different aspects of your sales channels needs precision, organization and a firm plan for dealing with disasters. Not natural disasters (although these can be a wrench in your machine as well), but disasters that measure and weigh your organizational skills and can make all the difference in your customer services.
Many come to the realization that outside sources can be a great tool for managing the different aspects and ease the load on your CS department. There are tools available that offer multi-tiered approaches to helping you manage your business as a whole, as well as your sales channel organization. Repricing, restocking data, sales trends, product recommendations and tons and tons of reporting possibilities are just some of the tools available through such platforms.
If you have not considered alternative sources of selling and building your multi-channel plan, consider speaking with a professional and lay out a plan with the best courses of action. Whether you are looking for more of a homegrown feel like with Ebay or Etsy, or something fast and professional like Amazon or your own web platform, a multi-channel approach is definitely essential to your long term viability and sustainability in a world of growing e-commerce.
This guest post was contributed by the Skubana team. Skubana is an all-in-one ERP system that seamlessly integrates with most e-commerce marketplaces, 3PLs, warehouses, provides state-of-the-art profitability and multi-channel inventory management. Skubana compiles all of your marketplaces on a single page to intuitively control and understand your entire business. Try Skubana free for 14 days.