How To Set Up And Run a Multi-Channel e-Commerce Website

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People like shopping, but they’re also reluctant to leave their comfy chairs to do it. It’s no wonder, therefore, that easy and convenient Internet shopping has become commonplace. Although e-Commerce is a relatively new business trend, it is a standard business venture, which uses online channels and, thus, has all the advantages of the Internet.

There are three ways in which you can participate in online merchandising;

  1.  You can create an online shop and sell just your products.
  2. You can be one of the many sellers in the multi-channel marketplace.
  3. You can run it.

Here are the primary reasons most e-Commerce business owners choose the second or third option.

e-Commerce: Everything at Once

Within the multi-channel e-Commerce marketplace, every vendor is able to create an independent e-shop where he or she will show and sell his or her products. Its strength is its variety – there is an immense number of product categories, from animal feed to electronics to fashion. Multi-channel marketplaces are capable of serving all the needs of every buyer without the exhausting task of searching through the Internet for specialty Web shops. Not only do many of today’s consumers prefer to shop from the comfort of their home, but also they want to finish all their shopping quickly. Since the success of your virtual store depends on its attractiveness, the multi-channel marketplace is the perfect opportunity to provide consumers with whatever they need.

If you run it, then you can generate incomes even without sales, because you can receive commissions from other vendors after each sale. The primary point, however, is that your brand will become part of the wide range of products that are available 24/7/365 and from anywhere. If you sell on just two separate marketplaces, then you’ll experience as much as a 190-percent increase in revenue, which clearly shows the immense, new opportunities a multi-channel (also known as omnichannel) presence can offer. This is why you must be optimized for and active on multiple channels to make the most of your brand’s online presence. Only in this way will you acquire enormous drivers for sales, such as multi-site product aggregators, social commerce options, comparison engines, mobile apps, etc. Keep in mind that your omnichannel presence won’t mean much without exceptional customer service across all channels, including inventory management, shipping logistics, product information, branding assets, order fulfillment, etc. The first step to accomplish all of this is to establish and learn how to run your multi-channel e-Commerce Website.

e-Commerce: Enable the Growth

The basic steps are the same for every e-Commerce Website setup – you must determine which products you wish to sell and how you’ll outsource them, select the appropriate e-Commerce solutions and technology, choose your payment methods, create your marketing strategy and continually measure the performance of your business. Although the core purpose remains the same – to sell value rather than price – your marketing strategy must evolve. The heart of your multi-channel business, however, is your choice of a platform. It is the most important technological component, which can make your business, but it can also break it. If you plan to grow your business across multiple channels, then you must choose the one that will enable that growth. As the experts who have brought you the OMNYFY marketplace e-Commerce constantly recommend, it must be a powerful, enterprise-class platform that includes the many capabilities, modules and features you’ll need to enable your implementation across all channels. Here are some other requirements to make that implementation successful.

Determine Your Priorities

Don’t start using every channel you see. Some of them won’t work well for your brand and because of one simple fact – not all marketplaces are created equal and each one has its unique quirks, such as inventory-control guidelines and payment terms. You may want to rush to Amazon as a leading giant of e-Commerce, but you must be sure you’re willing to pay the price. To choose wisely, you must consider all the channels from many angles. Delivery must be cost-effective; your brand marketing must be capable of reaching your customer base; and payment terms and margins must work. Some channels, however, have a large number of customers to counter these issues. That’s why you must first determine your priorities. Some retailers will be too big for you initially due to payment terms of more than 60 days or aggressive discounts, and you’ll have to accept these conditions if you don’t want to become lost in a sea of products at a big-box retailer.

After you find the channels which seem right for you, you must invest some additional time to identify the audience on each one. It is mandatory to acquire a better understanding of your customers on every channel, because that understanding will provide you with insights of their values, how they make purchases and what specific products they want. If you know they’re attracted to local handmade goods, then you’ll select Etsy, and if quick delivery is they’re top priority, then you’ll have to consider Amazon.

Keep an Eye on Your Inventory

Multiple channels come with the logistic challenges which will require considerable coordination. Because you’ll have more sales opportunities, there will also be more opportunities to oversell or become short-stocked, so inventory monitoring is a must. This is the foundation of quality customer service, since poor product coordination leads to a poor shopping experience, which can cause a loss of loyal customers and bad reviews and ratings. Frustrating customers with unavailable stock costs businesses around the world more than $600 billion and overstocking (the opposite extreme) generates losses in excess of $400 billion. It’s very important, therefore, to centralize your operations for all channels by syncing your inventory. You can use multi-channel selling software, such as Sellbrite, Ecomdash and ChannelAdvisor, which will also allow you to manage fulfillment, shipping and accounting.

You’ll be able to discover new methods to boost your sales instead of the time-consuming process of managing each site separately, hoping you’ve accounted for all inventory. Centralized processing and automation will eliminate human error and constant inventory updates will reveal what’s in stock at any point in time, resulting in accurate numbers across all channels. You won’t be overstocking, because the software will indicate how much to order, and when, and make coordination with the supplier much easier.

Customize the Beauty

Your multi-channel e-Commerce Website must be beautiful (meaning elegant, not flashy!) despite the complicated maintenance, but it’s much more important to customize that beauty by maintaining the look and feel across all devices. With more consumers browsing on their mobile devices, you must also create an engaging customer journey on these devices by offering automatic discounting, customized checkouts and responsive storefronts. To connect with these mobile-first users, you should choose a branded mobile app. It should work on iPad and iPhone and Apple’s iOS as well as on Android devices and their operating system. You’ll be able to push notifications for daily deals and incentivize loyalty via coupons and QR codes in ads.

The initial steps are the same as with every e-Commerce Website, but it’s very important to use the right platform since it is the heart of your business and it must be strong enough to create a significant presence for your business across numerous channels. Next, find the right channels and study their audiences, setting your priorities. Managing your site and the right channels will require considerable monitoring, but any of the above-mentioned software packages will make that task much easier. Lastly, make sure your Website provides the same look and usability on mobile platforms.

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Nick Brown

Nick Brown is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged on projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.