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How To Get Started With Multi-Channel Selling

What is multi-channel selling?

Multi-channel selling is the act of selling a single product on multiple websites and marketplaces. Many large retailers are partnering with third-party sellers to sell their products on their sites. This includes all of the largest online stores such as Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, and New Egg.

Why you need to start multi-channel selling

Larger Audience

Google is a great place for consumers to find products but search page ranking can be competitive and advertising can be competitive. On a marketplace, you’re guaranteed to have some of the largest audiences. Many of the largest online web stores now allow for marketplace sellers.  Amazon’s annual revenue was over $250bn in 2018, 30% higher than the previous year, making it one of North America’s largest retailers

Increased Trust

Amazon, along with many large retailers have earned the trust of their customers through exceptional support. This trust can be leveraged while on their marketplace, making sales easier. Recent surveys show that a large portion of the population trust Amazon as much or more than their bank, and in some cases more than their government. Amazon has a universally positive perception, which makes users more comfortable when purchasing from their marketplace, and prospective customers.

What are some difficulties of multi-channel selling?

Data Management

You have thousands of products, descriptions, images, and prices and several marketplaces you’d like to sell them on. One of the most difficult parts of getting started with multi-channel selling is getting your products from your accounting software, your current eCommerce site, or anywhere else to the web.

To do so effectively there are several options.

Spreadsheet upload

Amazon, Walmart, and several other marketplaces allow you to upload products via spreadsheets. You can assign a column to each attribute, and tie it all back to a unifying number such as Amazon’s ASIN.

Benefits:

  • Anyone can do it. The skills required to produce and maintain this data over time are common in nearly every office. The data required to sell the product is enough to list it in your stores.
  • Exports from your accounting software or suppliers can often be converted and fulfill most of the data requirements from the marketplace.

Drawbacks:

  • There is still a fair amount of manual work involved. Whether you receive the information from a supplier or other data source there will often still need to be manual transformation and data uploads.
  • Stock and pricing updates will not be automatic, and there could be data inconsistencies between marketplaces, your accounting software, and your retail or online stores.

Automated integrations

Integrations are generally the preferred method of maintaining marketplace data. An integration will look for changes in your accounting software, SKU data management tools, or even supplier data feeds and automatically push updates to and from the marketplace. In most instances marketplace integrations offer the largest form of automation in your processes, allowing you to charge less and compete better.

Benefits:

  • Integration tools can automate many of the cumbersome aspects of maintaining product data, including updating pricing to multiple locations, updating stock on every store once the product has been purchased, and even ensuring descriptions are the same on each store.
  • A quality integration can dramatically lower overhead costs and logistical efforts, allowing you to lower prices and to gain the coveted buy box on Amazon.
  • Fees are typically on a per transaction basis, so you only pay more when you make more.

Margin

Managing margin is one of the most difficult and competitive areas of selling online. Margins are often considerably slimmer when selling on a marketplace due to the fee structures imposed by the marketplace providers.

Reducing operating costs involved in the order is paramount to maintain the profitability of your marketplace sales. There are two key ways in which this can be done:

Automated order processing 

Stores with high order volume can involve a substantial amount of manual data entry. From entering orders, updating prices, and monitoring and updating stock levels.

Warehouse Logistics Optimization

Shipping can make or break the margin on a sale. Remember to always check all available shipping providers before shipping out a product. 

For high volume sellers, make sure you’re consistently negotiating the best rates for the business. 

For low volume sellers, you can find yourself at a disadvantage for shipping providers. Find yourself a service like eShipper or ShipStation that combines many low volume sellers and offers a more competitive rate. Note that if your business volume increases substantially, you won’t be getting credit on your own business account for these sales when you go to negotiate rates later on.

So, now what?

You’re now ready to easily add product, ship products, and make money on Amazon, NewEgg, Walmart, and other popular marketplaces. 

Armed with more knowledge it’s time to start planning and turning those plans into action!