Consumer behavior continues to change and grow with the advent of new information and communication technologies. In addition to a wide range of products and round-the-clock services, customers also prefer a variety of sales channels to pick their personal favorites. Businesses must look for multiple channels to market their goods to stay ahead of the curve in such a competitive market.
What Is Multi-channel E-commerce?
The e-commerce industry is overwhelmed with a variety of marketplaces, online stores, direct-to-consumer (D2C) websites, social media, drop shipping, webshops, subscriptions, C2C, etc. As consumers are getting accustomed to companies going to them for business, it may turn out that even your greatest clients may not constantly be searching for your brand. Thus, it’s crucial to diversify e-commerce sales through multi-channel selling.
Multi-channel e-commerce is all about selling your goods or services online through many channels. E-commerce firms offer their products on a range of digital platforms and marketplaces as compared to conventional multi-channel selling where products are advertised through catalogs and brick-and-mortar stores. Selling on multiple channels using customized e-commerce strategies is the best method to promote goods to potential customers and greatly enhances the ability to stand out in a highly aggressive and competitive market.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Multi-channel E-commerce
Though there are different channels available for businesses to contact customers, multi-channel marketing has its benefits and drawbacks that are important to weigh.
- Multi-channel strategies help you give additional options to your customers and also expand your customer base. Businesses can continue to have a steady flow of first-time customers by expanding efforts to include new channels as many customers only interact on specific channels.
- A majority of the brands across segments view a multi-channel strategy as a way to expand. You can list and advertise your products across channels like marketplaces and websites, expand shipping options, form global alliances with distributors, merchants or marketplaces and have backup strategies for sourcing or producing your merchandise to shield from risks.
- Even though it initially takes a lot of work to diversify your marketing and sales, eventually it brings about long-term gains like enhanced internal communication, direct attention to logistics challenges and data-driven knowledge. Your marketing team can be educated about current buying patterns that can help you decide how to use your marketing budget.
- Multi-channel marketing helps to better integrate your campaigns with your company’s objectives. Businesses can plan strategies that give them access to multiple selling platforms and several conversion options.
- More marketing channels would mean more resources in terms of money and time. Hence, it is very important to plan the cost structure to set the direction of the project and for multi-channel e-commerce marketing.
- Personalizing your customer preference requires extensive customer research and involves targeted marketing operations.
- There is a lack of consistency across channels as codes and uses differ for each channel. Maintaining consistency in your words and activities across all of your channels is one of the major challenges here.
- Having a variety of channels might misdirect your clients, exposing them to unreliable, incorrect or unclear information about your company.
- The internet allows everyone to publish any kind of information that could result in an endless supply of inaccurate, harmful or distracting resources. Hence, to avoid losing customers or causing any confusion, be sure to let your clients know about the communication channels you use and be consistent in your communication.
- Another significant challenge is inventory mismanagement which may cause supply chain challenges. This in turn could lead customers to be unsatisfied and cause them to leave bad reviews and shop elsewhere.
Importance of Multi-channel E-commerce Software Solutions
Extending your presence across different channels will demand significant resources and time commitment from your business. Nevertheless, the e-commerce software solutions like StoreAutomator, Linnworks, SellerActive, PackageBee and SkuVault to name a few, make it simple to automate and streamline your product listings across several platforms. These software solutions help in:
- Making inventory changes
- Viewing, tracking, managing and updating your inventory
- Taking full control of the product catalog and pricing
- Understanding product performance across all channels
- Transportation management
- Forecasting inventory, creating an invoice, tracking sales and optimizing cash flow
- Connecting stores to warehouses
- Barcode scanning, work order management and real-time reporting
- Providing a quick and easy return process
Tips To Succeed in Multi-channel E-commerce
Businesses need to boost their multi-channel marketing approach with innovative strategies that improve the complete shopping experience. Many effective methods include:
1. Flexible retargeting
To provide excellent customer service you need to engage and re-engage your target audience, time and again. This has to happen across multiple platforms, devices or channels and should be customized. Retargeting is a technique of bringing the customer’s attention back to the products they were already considering. One way of doing this is through consistent messaging, presenting time-sensitive offers and displaying customer feedback and comments.
2. Customize marketing messages
Customizing marketing messages involves personalizing each customer’s preference, browsing patterns and purchasing tendencies while maintaining consistency in the value you provide across all channels. Customizing gives brands the opportunity to provide exactly what customers want and the chance to increase client loyalty.
3. Sync sales and marketing
As a business, you may look to promote the same product across various channels using the multi-channel e-commerce marketing strategy. To accomplish this, you can customize offers or route links for each product to various sales channels. Since many customers are encouraged to purchase from their preferred marketing channel over other sales channels, this strategy often works effectively.
4. Include ratings and reviews
Customers share their opinions and give a product or service a star rating through ratings and reviews. Many shoppers rely on this information to make wiser purchasing decisions. Customers depend on them so much that more than 99% of the shoppers study product reviews before making a purchase.
5. Advertise keeping consumers in mind
Multi-channel e-commerce can be used to market products to consumers who eventually enable you to generate new leads. But rather than considering customers just as leads you can try to reach them as an individual with personal preferences. You can create user profiles with the help of the multi-channel e-commerce software solutions mentioned above and then update this profile with each interaction, meaning you can launch targeted campaigns to increase your sales.
6. Effectively use consumer-generated content
Consumer-generated content and word-of-mouth publicity are one of the best marketing strategies for multi-channel e-commerce marketing. You can ask your customers to share video reviews of the products and then highlight them on your websites and newsletters.
When compared to single-channel e-commerce, multi-channel e-commerce is more profitable as it enables you to reach more people, increase sales by improving the online shopper experience and help shoppers buy from you via their choice of channel. It also improves brand visibility by promoting products on platforms that already have a significant number of active and engaged users.