A guide to multichannel ecommerce

A guide to multichannel ecommerce
BigCommerce
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If you’re an ecommerce business, chances are, you’ve been told that you absolutely must build a multichannel ecommerce empire if you want to keep up with the times and generally become more of a lucrative business. We’ve put together a guide on all your multichannel options, and essentially what each of them means for your business.

What is multichannel ecommerce?

Multichannel used to just refer to having a brick and mortar store and some sort of online presence or catalogue orders, but as technology develops and shoppers become more savvy, there are now multiple ways and places in which customers choose to spend their money. Essentially, being a multichannel ecommerce business means that you have different channels of selling products, predominantly split into four categories:

  • Offline sales– physical store, trade shows, markets, telephone orders
  • Marketplaces– Amazon & eBay
  • Ecommerce platforms– hosted & self-hosted
  • Social Media– Facebook & Pinterest

Ecommerce platforms explained- hosted & self-hosted

Your ecommerce platform is effectively the online equivalent of your retail shop- so your very own online store where you can control the marketing, branding, and sales. This is your site and your way of showcasing your brand. There are two types of ecommerce platforms: hosted or self-hosted.

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Marketplaces

This is where it gets interesting, and slightly more complicated. Most ecommerce businesses will have their own online store set up, but in order to expand your business and enter into the realm of multichannel, consider listing your products on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.  Marketplaces handle the processing of the sales, and make money by driving traffic to their site and charging for services to 3rd party sellers. You may not make as much of a profit compared to selling directly from your own online store, however there are many benefits to listing with Amazon and eBay.

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Amazon is the largest ecommerce marketplace meaning a huge number of customers that shop through their site. Amazon also offers Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) which allows businesses to send their products to Amazon’s fulfilment centres who will then ‘fulfil’ their orders, dispatching to the customer and managing customer service enquiries.

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The auction style of eBay is an excellent way to initially test the demand and possible pricing for your products.

 

Social Media

This is a relatively new addition to multichannel ecommerce, with social media becoming a channel in which businesses can sell through. Bigcommerce’s Facebook shop is the prime example of this, along with buyable pins on Pinterest. This area of ecommerce is more than likely to take off and become a very popular method of shopping for customers.

Strategy & Fulfilment – How does multichannel ecommerce work?

Of course, listing products on various different sites can complicate matters, which is where you need an inventory management system that will integrate all your inventory data across the various channels where you sell your products. Making sure to keep your inventory data consistent across multiple stores and marketplaces will help prevent out of stock items and angry customers. If an item sells in your physical store, your inventory will be updated. No matter where a sale is made, you’ll be able to keep track of your stock and fulfil it all on the same system. It will also help you to see how well certain products are selling, and generally make better business decisions.

Linnworks

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Using an order management system such as Linnworks, enables you to manage and fulfil all your orders in one place. It also means that you can connect your website platform, such as your Bigcommerce store, to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and then also to shipping couriers like Royal Mail. As an ecommerce business, using a system like Linnworks means that you won’t have to fulfil each order through each individual sales channel, but have one system that integrates everything.

Bigcommerce Channel Manager

Bigcommerce have developed another method for multichannel ecommerce by allowing businesses to sell their products via the usual marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, but also through social channels like Facebook and Pinterest. With social media a big part of today’s world, this update will see more businesses grow through various sales channels. Following Linnworks’ blueprint to be able to manage all your listings from one place, the only downside is the lack of fulfilment when it comes to shipping.

Multichannel ecommerce is definitely the next step for your business, if you aren’t already there, as regardless of the integration system you use, managing your inventory will never be easier, and your sales will continue to sky-rocket. Just remember, not every customer is the same, so making it easier for them to choose where they prefer to shop will only open up a whole world of opportunities for your business.

If you’re looking for more information on setting up your own multichannel ecommerce empire, call us now on +44 (0)121 773 5978, or email us at info@5874.co.uk.