5 Proven Ways to Improve Your Multi-Channel Selling Strategy
Creating a successful multi-channel strategy requires continuity and careful planning in order to offer your customers a consistent experience, regardless of the channel they utilise. Literally millions of businesses operate multi-channel sales strategies; this involves listing and selling their products across more than one online sales channel.
Multi-channel sales funnels are basically a “no-brainer”, the more markets you are in (Amazon, eBay etc.) the more sales you will make, however managing this well is the key to maximising your sales. How many of those millions of online brands are truly making the most of their sales potential? We are willing to bet many are stumbling over the same obstacles.
We have isolated our top five multi sales mistakes and pinpointed the best fixes for those most common mistakes. There are some fantastic processes and systems that can be put in place to start really optimising your online sales.
Select the Best Sales Channels
This may seem really obvious however you would be surprised how often this crops up! You’ve seen that a competitor has moved over to a certain new sales platform however this doesn’t mean this is the right channel for you. Do not base which platforms you are going to use on where other people with similar offerings are selling, ensure that you take a customer focused approach and bring your e-commerce store to where they are, don’t expect them to come and find you.
Similarly more channels doesn’t always mean more customers. Don’t race to sell your products on as many different sales channels as possible, selling on every perceivable channel all at once will stretch your business too thin. This is especially the case for small businesses and start-ups.
The best way to identify the platforms that are right for you is by setting up a test and evaluate system. Initially select only one or two platforms and evaluate results. This way you can stick with the platforms which perform the best and ditch the less profitable ones. As with any sales strategy analysis, the sales data will show if there are any areas that aren’t working properly, in order make the appropriate changes, which in this case is to shift focus to another prospective channel.
Manual Input vs Automation
You can probably tell where we land on this! E-commerce businesses who adopt the multi-channel selling approach need effective management of multiple data points. Attempting to manually manage these items can, and often does, lead to confusion and human error. With multiple channels your stock inventory, products feed, sales figures and shipping data will often need to be shared across several different management systems, and underestimating the difficulty of manually managing this can be seriously detrimental to your brand.
Many new retailers misjudge how long it will take to manually enter different business factors like orders, price changes, stock levels, content descriptors and optimise their products listings across varying systems and sales channels. The increased risk of human error in manual entry and time it takes to actually do the leg work, detracts from more important brand building factors too. As the business owner your time is better spent tending to your customers’ needs, answering enquiries and creating authentic interactions on marketing platforms and social media.
Implement tools which can automate lengthy processes like constant data entry and stock management will pay dividends. Selecting an appropriate Product Information Management tool to collect and manage your data and a Feed Marketing Tool to update and optimise all of your feeds for each of your sales channels.
Vary Content Strategy
Many brands seem to be under the impression that quantity counts over quality when it comes to eCommerce. Often online retailers will use the same product description and specifications across all their channels, using the exact same listings for Etsy, eBay. Often, they also use the same targeting for both their Facebook and Google Ads too. This practice of duplication might seem like it saves time but in the long run you are likely to damage your SEO rankings and have your products excluded.
Each channel is different, with its own unique feed requirements and its own specific audience nuances. Enhancing your customers experience as an individual shopper should always be the motivation as an e-commerce business operating within a multi-channel model.
Customers inevitably will choose and return purchase from brands that create the best experience for them at each touchpoint. Automating some of the content strategy of your brand with a Customer Data Platform can help you to identify individual customers and behaviours across however many channels you are operating. This personalisation, allows you to create profiles to model and determine how best to reach and retain individual customers. Utilising a marketing tool – or digital marketing agency if budget allows – will help you to not only reach the right audience, on the right platform, at the right time with exactly the information that person needs.
Stock Control Systems
This can have far reaching consequences and therefore is arguably the most important thing after selecting the right platform for your stores. If you suddenly run out of stock of a best-selling item, that information immediately needs to filter to all your sales channels to stop the item from continuing to be listed and to prevent overselling and underdelivering to the customer. This is always an issue but is particularly detrimental to new stores building a reputation for good customer experience.
When automating your data through a product information management system or a feed marketing service, opt where possible for a real time update service. Similarly selecting a service that lets you schedule updates whenever you need them is also essential – particularly during seasonal sales, and busy shopping times, Christmas for example.
A solid multi-channel sales strategy needs the right systems and software in place to support it, hopefully the above pointers have demonstrated that adequately. Some software solutions are more suited for this kind of strategy than others. The more sales outlets you use the more complex your businesses processes will get. Your stock, sales and customer data needs to be shared across several platforms with differing requirements but that produces a consistent shopping experience whichever channel your customer purchases from.
Without adequate research, businesses often settle for the wrong solution for managing these key aspects. Multiple sales channels should not be managed in isolation, the best multi-channel e-commerce strategy ensures a seamless experience for the customers and the business. Integrated sales tools and systems are the key to achieving this.
Selecting a robust multi-channel management platform and feed marketing tool is by far the best approach; this type of technology is usually cloud-based and provides a platform that sits as an operational hub between your main business planning and operations software and your eCommerce systems. Your sales and stock data are then synchronised between your systems, giving a centralised location to manage orders, inventory and product data, not managing individual platforms in isolation but as a whole sales system. Keep stock inventory levels up to date, quickly and accurately fulfilling orders, creating high-quality product information thus enhancing the customer purchasing experience.
Adopting a multi-channel sales strategy gives businesses the opportunity to expand their reach to a global market across many sales channels. Utilising the right software and management tools from the outset, SMEs can achieve success in larger markets that would not otherwise be possible without massive marketing budgets. Prioritising your customers and their journey, testing and instigating robust systems and ensuring you are flexible with your approach will yield the most success.
We at drop_ can fully design and manage your multi-channel strategy, including A/B testing of systems and prospective sales channels. If you would like to find out more about our multi-channel sales services, contact us.