I’m a huge fan of multichannel selling, and I have been from day one of my ecommerce career.
There is a lot of merit in starting a website and building a foundation for your own sales and brand, but there’s also merit in using multiple sales channels, including third party marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
In my opinion, a successful ecommerce business doesn’t need to be loyal to just one platform – instead, you can spread the risk associated with selling online by making sales across multiple channels.
In this post I want to look at eight key reasons why you should start multichannel selling today, to shape the future of your business for tomorrow.
If you just sell on your own website or a single marketplace, the chances are your exposure to potential customers is limited. If you sell across your own website, Amazon, eBay, Etsy and other third party platforms you can, in theory, triple or even quadruple your exposure. Greater exposure means more sales – and that’s why we’re in business!
Increasing sales is the #1 reason for going multichannel (and most other things we do in business).
Putting your products in front of as many people as possible is the aim of the game in ecommerce – if more people see your products for sale, more people will buy them from you.
Now, this doesn’t mean you haphazardly jump into selling on a bunch of channels at once. Start with one, add a second slowly, then a third…
Each channel is very different and requires a new period of adjustment, learning, and optimization.
I touched on this a bit earlier, but holy cow, can ecommerce be a risky business.
ESPECIALLY when the fate of your business is in the hands of one single entity.
It’s never a good idea to leave the future of your business up to someone else to manage. If I had a dollar for every story I heard about Amazon suspensions… eBay suspensions… Google penalties… and other uncontrollable, yet completely controllable, situations, I could retire.
Spreading your business across multiple channels is no different that spreading your investment portfolio out across a diverse array of assets. You wouldn’t put all your money in one single stock. Don’t put your business on one single channel!
Find economies of scale
It’s great when you hit your own personal goal of say… selling 100 red widgets via your website – but imagine the economies of scale you could benefit from if you started selling an additional 100 or 200 red widgets each month?
Now you’re thinking like an entrepreneur!
That figure isn’t beyond the realms of possibility when you signup to sell on Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. Selling more means you will buy more – and when you buy more, you can use your purchase quantities as leverage with suppliers.
By selling more stock across more platforms, the chances are you can drive down the cost price of the products you sell, allowing you to increase profit.
Increase staff efficiency
Staffing an ecommerce business is super tricky because certain times of the year are busier than others, certain weeks of the month are busier than others, and certain days of the week are busier than others.
I’m not saying the headache of staffing will be a walk in the park when you start multichannel selling, but I found it a little easier to manage.
Instead of having a trickle of orders one or two days a week, our order levels are now more consistent on a day-to-day basis, and easier to project. As soon as I started multi-channel selling I went from hiring one part-time member of staff to employing two full time members of staff, plus a part-timer for busier times of year such as Christmas.
You’ll also have staff on hand to help you with the maintenance of each sales channel: updating listings, photographing and adding new product, designing images, designing promotions.
A good retailer will do all of these things!
Maximize your fixed costs
Fixed costs will always be there – I’m talking about things like warehouse rent, broadband connections, employee wages and so on.
It’s always been important for me to get maximum value from my fixed costs – what’s the use in underutilizing assets that are seeing me incur a fixed charge on a monthly basis, regardless of how much I sell?
With higher sales, you can get more for your money in terms of your monthly rent, because you can store more stock in the same space (because you’ll need more stock to sell).
You can get more out of your labor spending in terms of handling cost per item sold, all while (hopefully) using the same computer hardware, the same printers and the same desk to receive orders and print them out.
The cost to setup an ecommerce business from scratch will usually run into four or five figures. The cost of adding a new selling platform is usually zero. Can you really afford not to become a multichannel seller?
It’s easier than you think…
The goal of all businesses is to grow. Of course, growth has to be managed carefully, but the overall goal is to build a business that’s bigger and stronger as time goes by.
Scaling a business isn’t always easy – but if you sell things on your own website and you don’t sell on other marketplaces, scaling could be a whole lot easier than you think.
Compared to a brick and mortar business, ecommerce scalability is actually super simple. Your fixed assets usually won’t change, staff will become more efficient (and if necessary you hire one or two more people), and the digital sales channels handle the brunt of the logistical burden. The cost of adding a third party marketplace like Amazon, eBay or Etsy is usually free, or relatively low.
…and it’s a brilliant marketing ploy
Let’s say you sell red widgets on a third party marketplace – and you also sell red widgets on your own website, why not include a flyer or business card with your website’s URL into each package you ship, so that your customers know in the future they can order directly from you?
Sometimes you’ll have to throw a little incentive in there for customers to buy directly from you – I find a 10% or 15% off voucher for use on our website works nicely. Selling on third party platforms is a great marketing tool because you can drive highly targeted buyers to your own website for future orders, where you can capture more information about them and, if done properly, turn them into fans.
Leverage a multichannel selling platform
There are powerful, yet affordable tools out there that are specially built from the ground up for multichannel sellers.
Whether you need help with listing to Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, managing inventory across all of your channels, or processing orders from all channels in one easy place, you will find that with very little investment, you can tackle the technological burden of each channel, and start multichannel selling with ease.
Being a seller on a third party platform isn’t always plain sailing. While you’re selling on someone else’s platform you’ll have to adhere to their rules and dance to their tune, in addition to paying pretty hefty commissions.
The great news is that it’s easy to expand to other channels. In addition to the overall investment needed being relatively small, there are tools and support out there to help you in your multichannel expansion.
Don’t put your business at risk of damage, or stagnation, any longer. Start multichannel selling today and capitalize on the many opportunities that are out there for ecommerce entrepreneurs.