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The Benefits and Challenges of Multichannel Selling

  • 5 Minutes
  • August 6, 2020

ShipStation Guest Blog

Today there are more ways to reach customers – both in terms of number and variety of channels – than we could have imagined not so long ago. Our friends at ShipStation have put together an ebook: Selling Across Channels: How a Multichannel Strategy Boosts Sales and Increases Brand Recognition, where they outline the most important things to consider when planning and implementing an effective multichannel strategy. While there are many benefits of selling on multiple selling channels there can be some challenges. 

Benefits of Multichannel Selling

Incorporating more selling channels into your ecommerce strategy is an easy way to grow your customer base and revenue streams. Not all customers have the same shopping behavior. One of the easiest ways to find more customers is to reach them where they shop—instead of just bringing them to you. In fact, selling on a secondary marketplace can increase revenue by 120%.

New Customers

When you increase your online presence, your customer base grows. You may start off with a loyal group of customers that shop from your online store, but it can be difficult to branch into new markets. This is a major benefit of adding selling channels like Amazon, Etsy, Walmart, or Ebay. You have access to high traffic on these sites, especially high intent search traffic. 

Expanded Brand Recognition

An optimized marketplace listing can be one of the most effective brand advertisements. Because multichannel selling reaches more people than selling on your website alone, branding plays an integral part in sales growth. Effectively building product value and brand recognition doesn’t require a costly advertising budget. When customers shop around for the best prices and shipping options, they can easily learn brand value organically. Marketplace features such as Amazon reviews also provide firsthand customer experiences that can influence more customers to buy your items. 

Lower Barrier to Entry than Brick-and-Mortar

A retailer’s growth prior to the ecommerce boom was restricted to either opening additional physical store locations or having your items sold in department stores. While it can be hard to carve out a path on various online marketplaces, listing your items on different marketplaces is simple and typically very cost-efficient. And unlike brick-and-mortar, you can maintain and ship your inventory from a localized source.

ShipStation allows you to view all orders from any selling channel or order source and ship them as soon as any customer anywhere places it. Instead of shipping within a single channel’s interface or copy/pasting shipping information into a carrier’s website, bring all of your orders into one place to quickly and efficiently ship them in bulk. 

Challenges of Multichannel Selling

Managing Multiple Selling Channels is Time-Consuming

The more selling channels you sell on, the more challenging it can be to manage the sales and inventory between each. Focusing on extending your reach through multiple marketplaces and websites can make meaningful growth more difficult. If processing time falls behind, this can be detrimental—particularly on marketplaces like Amazon that have strict guidelines around how quickly you have to pack and ship orders. Making sure you have an appropriately staffed team, and effective workflows and inventory management can ease the stresses caused by a rapid influx in orders. 

Varied Shipping Expectations

As mentioned above, multichannel sellers have orders that take priority over others. Your own website is largely dictated by broad trends or your own metrics. As you incorporate more selling channels into your portfolio, you inherit their seller guidelines and restrictions too. 

As we so often do, look at Amazon, for example. They have grown to where they are because sellers are expected to ship orders out within two business days of the order being placed. Prime orders can be even more restrictive. Failure to meet these guidelines can negatively impact your seller rating. 

Maintaining Brand Consistency

Different selling channels have different guidelines that can come at a cost. For instance, selling channels can have strict guidelines on how to list products. Furthermore, pricing strategies that you or your marketplace account managers come up with to be competitive can lower brand reception.

Want to know about how to be an effective multichannel seller? Check out the ShipStation Multichannel Resource Hub for more information.

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