eCommerce today is truly multichannel as customers engage with brands and consume brand content across multiple platforms before they make their purchase decisions. Spoilt for choice, customers expect unified, hassle-free shopping experiences regardless of where and when they engage with the brand be it – the brand website, app, a marketplace, social media, or other platforms.
So, brands need to be agile and flexible about how, why, and when they sell on different platforms. So, brands that embrace the ‘sell anywhere to sell more’ mindset thrive in the super-competitive marketplace while those who continue to focus only on single or few traditional touchpoints will eventually stagnate.
In fact, online retailers in the US earned more than USD 350 million revenue from sales in 2020 by listing their products on multiple marketplaces and adopting multichannel strategies. It is further predicted that multichannel selling will account for 43% of eCommerce sales by 2023.
So, how do you drive sales by listing products on multiple marketplaces? Read on to find out.
Multichannel Strategy for Selling Online
What is Multichannel Selling/ Retail? Multichannel retail/ selling is the process of listing and selling products on multiple channels and platforms. Listing and selling products on multiple marketplaces and online platforms enable customers to seamlessly move between these touchpoints without facing dead ends, thus, breaking silos and ensuring cohesive shopping experiences. Customers get to choose any platform that is most convenient to them and thereon, continues with the purchase.
Why Has It Become Necessary Today?
Multichannel shoppers purchase 3 times more than single-channel users.
74% of shoppers make use of multiple channels to start and complete transactions during their shopping journey.
40% of customers wouldn’t do business with a brand if they are unable to engage with the brand on their preferred channel.
50% of customers who engage with their preferred brands on 10 or more platforms tend to buy at least once a week from the brand. But only 21% of customers who engaged with preferred brands with 4 or fewer channels made weekly purchases from the brand.
84% of shoppers begin their shopping hunt on digital channels.
Customer’s product search typically begins with Google in 30% of instances and spills over to Amazon (44%).
Reach Larger Addressable Market No two shoppers are the same nor are their preferences. While one shopper may prefer a brand website for product research and purchase, another may prefer popular marketplaces like Amazon. Yet another shopper may prefer to research on search engines and purchase through a marketplace.
When your products and product information are available on different channels, you increase the options for buyers to engage with your brand. By adding newer sales channels, you can seamlessly tap into the larger addressable market. Further, you can tap into established audiences in marketplaces and search engines instead of having to pump in more resources into marketing and advertising your single online storefront.
And listing products on multiple marketplaces is much simpler with the right tools. The barriers to entry in expanding to multiple digital sales channels are fewer than expanding offline touchpoints.
Find Your Tribe By listing products on multiple marketplaces, you make your brand and your products more accessible to a wider audience. Put differently, your products get better visibility when you leverage social media, search engines and marketplaces, in addition to your website.
With the right multichannel tool, you can build a consistent brand image, tonality and style effortlessly across multiple platforms. Through consistent messaging and brand image, you can nurture trust, confidence and brand loyalty among target audiences.
A wider variety of marketplaces also may enable you to discover pockets of audiences for your products that might surprise you.
Target Customers at Different Stages Across Their Buyer Journey The multichannel strategy takes a customer-centric perspective and puts them in the driving seat. The brand takes the initiative to make its products discoverable across multiple platforms. So, customers can engage with the brand on any channel using any device at any time.
By analyzing data from these multiple channels, you can understand the buyer journey better, target customers at different stages in the buyer journey and improve the lifetime customer value.
Use The Power of Search Engines and Marketplaces Firstly, the tech giants who run the major marketplaces focus on creating personalized shopping experiences at scale and seamlessly create micro moments for customers in their buyer journey. They help customers find the right product at the right time. By listing products on these marketplaces and improving their search rankings, brands can harness the power of technology to make themselves more discoverable.
Customers are willing to buy from brands they have never heard of before when they see product listings on trusted and popular marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, eBay, etc. This is especially useful for smaller brands with frugal resources and D2C brands that may not have the resources to handle branding and marketing.
Improves Conversion Rate By reaching wider audiences and making the product more discoverable through multichannel retailing, brands can boost their conversion rates. Further, by using the right tools for listing on multiple marketplaces, you can maximize selling opportunities, control pricing across various channels, offer personalized discounts and deals and achieve so much more.
Enhances Customer Experience Today, customers spend ample time and effort in comparing prices, shipping costs, quality, discounts, and personalized offers before making a purchase decision.
6 out of 10 customers admit to choosing a competing product for faster and cheaper shipping. 52% of shoppers expect offers they receive from brands to be personalized. 75% of customers expect unified shopping experiences regardless of the channel they choose to engage with the brand. If brands do not offer these personalized, cohesive shopping experiences to customers across platforms, they are most likely to lose the customer’s business. And a multichannel strategy empowers brands to create such experiences for customers.
Faster Inventory Turnover With the right multichannel strategies and tools, you gain better visibility into your inventory levels. So, you can prevent losing business because of out-of-stock items by optimizing stock levels and putting in place smarter stock replenishment practices. The ability to fulfill orders from anywhere enables brands to further improve their inventory turnover.
Diversifies Risk Listing and selling products on multiple marketplaces and channels enable brands to diversify their risks apart from boosting sales opportunities. They can minimize the risk of relying on single platforms. For instance, if a brand website is the victim of a DDoS attack, the website becomes unavailable to users until the attack is remediated. If the brand does not have a presence elsewhere, they will lose customers to competitors.
Boosting Sales by Listing on Multiple Channels and Marketplaces
The Challenges in Multichannel Retail
Listing On the Wrong Platforms When brands list on the wrong platforms, they waste precious resources – listing fees, manpower used in listing on the platform, efforts on backend activities, etc. Brands need to analyze and evaluate each marketplace and sales channel before they start listing on the platform. They need to find where their target audiences are and not focus on diversifying just for the sake of it by launching into the wrong platforms.
Infrastructure and Manpower Requirements Once brands start listing products on two or more marketplaces, they need to have the right processes and infrastructure in place to keep the multiple channels updated, process orders, manage the inventory, have their logistics figured out, manage returns, and extend customer support, etc. Further, you need human expertise to manage the listing process and sufficient manpower to manage operations in a multichannel landscape.
Without adequate manpower and resources, the right infrastructure and latest tools, brands run a high risk of order backlogs, task pile up, growing refunds, mismanagement, etc. that are seriously damaging to the brand – financially and reputationally.
Multiple Taxonomies, Templates and Requirements Different marketplaces have stark differences in their taxonomies, templates and other requirements for listing products. So, the listing process is long and arduous, especially when done manually without the right tools. Inaccuracies – as small as a spelling mistake or a special character – could lead to rejections. This causes unnecessary delays and slower speed-to-market.
Sales Attribution While brands can identify where the purchase was made in the multichannel retail, it is challenging to correctly attribute which channel actually convinced the customer. To this end, brands need to have systems that help track the right data and metrics.
Difficulties In Tracking and Managing Inventory Effectively tracking and monitoring inventory across multiple marketplaces and channels is challenging, especially without real-time visibility. In the multichannel environment, if a brand receives an order on one channel, all other channels must be updated in real-time to avoid losing business over out-of-stock items.
Also, brands typically tend to split inventory across fulfillment centers to reach customers faster and minimize shipping costs. But when you keep adding more channels, this multi-warehousing strategy becomes trickier to manage.
Overstocking, Understocking, Overselling In multichannel eCommerce selling, it is challenging to forecast the quantity of inventory that brands need to maintain for each channel. This is especially the case with brands that do not use predictive analytics, AI and other technology for inventory forecasting.
Overstocking inventory leads to wastage of precious warehousing space and higher holding costs. Understocking leads to quicker stock out and potential loss of business while also causing dissatisfaction among customers.
The risk of overselling is also high in multichannel retail. For instance, brands may realize during order processing that they have sold more than the stock they possess. This leads to loss of sales and an erosion of the brand image and reputation. Further, they have to face massive penalties for overselling from the marketplaces.
Brand Consistency Maintaining consistency in brand image, tonality, style and so on across multiple sales channels is necessary but a highly challenging process.
Reporting Collating data from across sales channels, analyzing and evaluating them is necessary to make data-driven decisions for eCommerce success. With multiple platforms, it is difficult to collate data and generate reports with actionable insights.
How To Overcome These Challenges and Sell More Effectively Across Multiple Platforms?
#1 Using and integrating different software and ecosystem solutions This is one of the best ways to overcome the challenges of multichannel retail and sell more effectively. Cataloging solutions use AI, intelligent automation, ML and other modern-day technology to help brands generate detailed product catalogs with all relevant, SEO-optimized product descriptions. They enable brands to generate deep, intelligent tags based on relevant attributes within minutes.
PIM or Product Information Management helps create detailed product catalogs by collecting, managing and enriching product information. They help to distribute product catalogs across sales channels.
By integrating PIM and cataloging solutions with the following, brands gain full visibility and control over their inventory, product listing, pricing, warehouse and customer data.
WMS or Warehouse Management System helps track and monitor warehouse functions and minimize errors.
OMS or Order Management System helps track orders and inventories electronically in real-time.
CRM or Customer Relationship Management software helps in collating customer data from multiple, siloed sources and provides full visibility into the customer journey.
Pricing engines allow brands to craft optimal pricing offers by analyzing pricing and non-pricing data.
#2 Use the greater visibility and control over inventory, product listing and pricing to your advantage Brands must leverage the visibility and control that software and ecosystem solutions provide to their advantage to sell more effectively across multiple channels. Brands analyze inventory data and forecast demand. Accordingly, they can make changes to their inventory, stock up on fast-moving items faster or modify their product line moving forward.
They can keep updating their product listing across multiple channels in real-time on inventory changes, remove out-of-stock products from the listing, add new products seamlessly, optimize product content with the latest, in-demand keywords and so on. This way, they can boost sales.
Brands can leverage their control on pricing across channels to offer dynamic pricing, personalized discounts, deals and offers, etc. to customers.
#3 Enable better customer engagement and relationship management Make sure to deliver consistent, personalized and seamless experiences to customers across the various channels. Ensure that your products are searchable and easily discoverable to customers. Craft product content that is relevant, succinct and detailed enough to answer all questions the customer may have. Keep testing, tweaking and optimizing your sales strategies on each platform based on channel metrics, feedback and customer data.
#4 Do not need extra manpower to understand different taxonomies and specifications of multiple platforms With the best cataloging solutions that allow you to integrate effortlessly with other ecosystem solutions, you do not need the extra manpower to list products on multiple channels. These solutions help you to create product listings once and automatically optimize them for different taxonomies and specifications of the different marketplaces. There are fewer possibilities of errors and inaccuracies, thus, reducing rejection rates. So, you can accelerate the speed-to-market of your products.
Catalogix from Streamoid is one such solution that is tailored for fashion retailers and other fashion users like merchandisers, D2C brands, etc. It offers a simple, straightforward solution to accelerate sales by listing products on more sales channels with maximum accuracy.
Listing products on multiple marketplaces and sales channels helps you to maximize sales opportunities and thrive despite the growing competition and ecosystem challenges. So, embrace multichannel selling if you want to sell more.
The future of retail is likely to involve further innovation and the integration of AI to improve the customer experience. The use of AI is playing an increasingly important role in this process, with retailers using it to improve the customer experience and offer personalized recommendations.
Headless commerce gives eCommerce brands the necessary agility and flexibility to keep optimizing shopping experiences amid the growing complexity and dynamism of the market and the tech landscape. In the article, we take a deep dive into headless commerce and its many benefits to eCommerce companies.