With the holiday season around the corner, it’s time for eCommerce businesses to gear up for the most wonderful – and busiest! – time of the year. In order to have a successful holiday shopping season, merchants need to know where their customers are shopping: aka everywhere! Most digital consumers’ shopping journeys are spread across multiple channels from webshops to social media platforms. As many as 85% of digital consumers start the purchasing workflow on one device yet finish it on another, and around 73% of consumers prefer shopping through multiple channels.
The good news is that merchants don’t need to pick and choose where they target their customers. They can reach them via multiple channels. Adopting a multi-channel sales approach is a key strategy every online retailer should have on their radar. What does a multichannel selling approach mean? Multichannel selling is the process of selling products on more than one sales channel. Shoppers can shop for products from brands’ physical or online stores, other online or offline retailers, social media, or marketplaces.
There are several benefits to implementing a multi-channel sales approach including streamlining operations, creating a smoother brand experience, attracting new customers, and driving sales growth.
Streamline operations and simplify inventory management: Implementing a multi-channel order management workflow ensures product availability regardless of location. It also prevents stockouts and backorders by utilizing real-time inventory data across all sales channels, making the purchasing and returns process more seamless.
Create smoother brand experience and maximize branding efforts: There’s a cohesive and consistent brand message and brand presence across all channels meaning if a shopper finds something they’re interested in buying on one social media channel, they’ll find the same brand messaging and personality on the shops’ website and other marketplace channels. The more places you are, the more people come to recognize your brand. This in turn builds trust and increases the likelihood of a future sale.
Attract new customers and increase customer retention: Adding more ways for people to buy from you only makes sense to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Merchants can ensure that prospective buyers are receiving consistent messaging, branding, and content, regardless of which channels they are interacting with. This can help to build trust and familiarity with a brand, increase customer engagement, and ultimately drive more conversions. This is incredibly important in today’s environment. The cost of acquiring new customers is 5x more than retaining existing customers. While acquisition allows merchants to increase the amount of customers, customer retention allows merchants to maximize the value of repeat customers.
Drive significant sales growth: In 2020, multichannel online retailers generated more than $350 billion in eCommerce sales in the US. The figure was expected to exceed $575 billion by the end of this year.
How merchants can implement a multi-channel sales approach:
- Identify the buyer’s persona: This helps understand the target audience and their mindset. To do this, identify their problems, priorities, objections, information channels, and buying process. And, ultimately, this sets the stage for everything that follows. Buyer persona can impact product development, marketing activities, and demand generation strategies.
- Select the channels to target & create messaging for that channel: Do your research and focus on the channels that make the most sense for your business. Based on the buyer persona, you can identify the right channels to approach your audience and prospective buyers. There will be more than one – and that’s the beauty of multichannel sales. Some strong places to start can include your online store, online marketplaces (Amazon, Etsy, eBay to name a few), social media channels (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok), as well as physical stores. Now, you need to understand what to say to your prospective buyer that’s going to interest them. Create relevant SEO-optimized content that speaks to your potential customers, write detailed product descriptions that can be replicated on all selling channels, and use images to showcase your products to buyers.
- Be mindful of each channel & its requirements: Each platform has regulations & requirements you need to abide by and sometimes there are limitations to how much control you have presenting your brand. This makes those detailed product descriptions so important to help create a consistent brand message across all of these various platforms. However, you can control all messages on your site. That’s where you’re going to have the most creative freedom.
- Build your own site: While it’s great to leverage already existing third-party marketplaces, it’s also important to have your own platform. Utilize AI to help customize and optimize the content on your site, including product descriptions, about us pages and more. This ensures your messaging is consistent and targeted to the right audience, while also minimizing the time it takes you to write and publish new content on your own. Your website can be your central source to track inventory and sales, customer engagement, and so much more. Lastly, don’t forget to optimize your site for mobile because mobile commerce is projected to account for nearly 42% of all eCommerce traffic by 2024.
- Implement marketing automation: Target customers with automated messages across the channels you’ve selected – email, web, social, and text. Once potential customers know your brand, use automation to nurture them toward conversion. For example, automatically retarget customers who abandoned carts with ad campaigns or follow-up emails.
- Use a single dashboard to manage multiple sales channels: During an already busy time, business owners should find a platform that allows them to oversee everything from one place. The most important thing while working with multiple sales channels is well-organized inventory management. Having to check multiple places for inventory can be tedious and there’s an increase in human error. Receiving multiple orders will make some changes in stock levels, pricing, etc. One dashboard makes it simpler to analyze your data and allows you to see all sales, sold units, top customers, purchases per hour, etc. This makes it easier to forecast your profit. It also helps you to manage and modify your marketing strategies as needed.
These days, it’s not enough to be selling on one channel – especially during the upcoming holiday season. As buyers hop from channel to channel, it’s nearly a prerequisite for your brand to adopt a multichannel retail strategy to stay competitive. A successful multi-channel retailing strategy can make your business quite successful. Just remember that it’s not a one-size-fits-all system so play with your targeted channels, brand and product messaging, and continue to analyze the data to find the sweet spot for your store.
Shelly Cohen is the Head of eCommerce Business Development at Wix.