The Importance of Multi-Channel Selling
Multi-channel selling, which may be better known as an Omnichannel Retail environment, has always been an important part of business operations. Over the last few months, however, it has become apparent that this isn’t just something you should do when running a business, it is something you must do.
Online sellers all over the world have experienced first hand how debilitating it can be to only sell on one platform and have restrictions put in place that are out of their control, meaning they can’t sell as they normally would and therefore put their cash flow, business and livelihood in jeopardy.
We’ve seen in recent months that Amazon temporarily stopped third party sellers selling on their platform for any items deemed ‘non-essential’. This move has meant that many businesses now have a huge backlog of orders that they’re now sifting through but will have also taken some damage in regards to their reputation and requested refunds for orders not fulfilled.
Nicole from Kenzo Crafts experienced something similar when Amazon decided to suspend her seller access without warning due to a surge in sales. “I had to suddenly confirm my UTR number after my sales soared. As they wouldn’t accept the downloaded version I sent them I had to ring HMRC. It came in under 2 weeks but the stress was unbelievable, the strange thing was they were still selling my products but I couldn’t access my account to amend or add listings. They also withheld my money”.
During these times, where businesses were unable to fulfil orders, many struggled to keep their doors open and given that small to medium enterprises make up the majority of the UK’s economy, this will have a lasting effect across the UK.
This alone is why you should be looking to sell across as many channels and platforms as you can. With multi-channel selling you can be in control of your business and avoid someone else taking the reins and deciding if and when you can trade.
Online selling platforms
In addition to Amazon, there are many other platforms that you can sell your products on. At EKM we recommend that you use as many channels as possible. The only way you are fully in control is by setting up your own online shop, however we’re going to give you a quick run through of all of the available options.
Online marketplaces such as Ebay, Etsy and Amazon do have their benefits such as being simple to access and set up. Your traffic is already being driven to your product listing via the pull of the marketplace and is fairly simple to manage.
However, marketplaces do have their downsides, like we’ve seen in recent months and mentioned earlier, they have complete control of everything on their channel and can decide with the flip of a switch if you can sell or not. They can also take advantage of items that are selling well.
For example, Amazon saw how well third party sellers were doing selling items such as chargers, cables and extension leads. They wanted a slice of the pie, and thus AmazonBasics was born. Marketplaces have the ability to make a similar product to yours and directly compete with you. Not only this, but you’re also competing against other third party sellers too. Marketplaces can be great when you’re just starting out but they can become more of a drawback as your business grows.
In recent months, social media platforms have developed and released their own ecommerce solutions for small businesses. Facebook recently launched Facebook Shop, where you can import your product directly to your Facebook account and sell from there. This also works across Facebook’s sister brands Instagram and Whatsapp.
Instagram has also announced that you can now add gift cards to your Instagram profile. If you operate businesses like hairdressers or other service type businesses who aren’t able to open yet, offering a way for your customers to purchase gift cards straight from your Instagram profile is a great way to keep the cash coming in while giving your customers something to look forward to.
Your Own Online Shop
The final option we’re going to talk about is, of course, setting up your own online shop. As we mentioned earlier this gives you the most amount of control and ensures you will always have at least one channel to sell from.
“As physical workshops and walk-in sales are now impossible I have turned my teaching expertise to virtual sessions, running Facebook live sewing tutorials and sew-a-longs twice a week in the evenings. I have focused on updating the product range on the website and have encouraged customers to use the features on the website to ensure they don’t miss out on stock that is particularly in demand”, Lucy from The Vintage Sewing Bunny adds.
Setting up your own online shop is simple and straightforward and can be done within a day or so. If you’re just starting out you’ll need to keep in mind that you won’t initially get the same levels of traffic that you would on a marketplace and therefore sales can be slow to start with. However, when you do start getting that paid or organic traffic through SEO efforts or remarketing efforts, it will be much more rewarding and may net you more profit as you won’t be paying any additional fees.
“We generally sell at shows in the country. We’re now fully reliant on our website for an income. Since pushing the business on Facebook and taking on Google ads our online sales have improved by 75%”, comments Anna, owner of A Crafty Place.