Every buying decision that customers make starts with product research. Their priority is to get the best deal. And for this, they compare prices, search for alternatives, and even check the shipping time and terms. But what they do not do is, use the search engines to search for new eCommerce websites.The presence of giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc., is one of the reasons why these customers don't find it necessary to look anywhere else. These eCommerce platforms have gazillions of product listings which makes it quite convenient for the shopper to get all the comparisons done in one place.It is essential for retailers to be flexible and agile in how, when, and where they are selling their products. Because if you are just sticking to your website and expecting to disrupt your industry, then you're far behind your competitors by a huge margin.In our previous blogs, too, we've mentioned the importance of multichannel selling for eCommerce businesses to generate more sales. However, we would also like to acknowledge the fact that managing your presence on multiple channels can be challenging. If not done strategically, being present on multiple channels will be of no use to you.Worry not. With our experience of working with various brands, we have cooked this guide for you. It is meant to help you handle multichannel sales efficiently. Read on.
Tips to Handle Multichannel Sales
Consider these five elements of a successful multi-channel strategy to improve your business performance and profitability.
1. Start with the right channel
When it comes to multichannel selling, it's criminal to even think that you'll be able to disrupt every channel in one go. It is essential to start slow and with the channel that best suits your target market and business needs. If you start with all the channels at once, it'll be quite time-consuming and deleterious for your bottom line.You should rather access each of your channels and marketplace options closely to find the ones where most of your target audience is. Additionally, make a list of channels in a prioritized order based on certain parameters like the presence of competitors, management process, etc.You'd also want to ensure that the channel you are picking aligns with your eCommerce brand and there's a niche for your line of products. Long story short, you don't have to be present everywhere when starting out, but on the right platforms. Do the math of the pros and cons of each channel and start with the one that is easy to manage and can generate a good ROI.
2. Gauge interest in the channels before selling
When you know that your TAM (total addressable market) is huge, it becomes essential for you to establish a high degree of mindshare and that too at a rapid pace. Simply put, instead of following a slow and subtle growth trajectory, you will have to go for "shock and awe" launch storytelling. And this is what most D2C companies do. They gauge the interest of their customers before selling.Moreover, when you have clarity on the sale that you can expect from various channels, inventory management becomes easier for you. You can start pre-order on the channels, and then the number of pre-bookings you receive will help you determine how much inventory you should reserve for which channel.This is one of the major strategies behind Harry's acquiring the email addresses of more than 100,000 customers in just seven days of their pre-launch campaign. Their launch idea was quite simple. It was to have customers waiting for the launch date. At the same time, they amalgamated some other marketing tactics like referral programs, which promised different shaving products on successful referrals.The channels that generated a maximum number of pre-bookings were assigned with maximum stock, and the stocks were kept low on the channel where the demand was lower. This helped Harry's provide a satisfactory customer experience to the majority of their customers.
3. Prioritize capturing purchase intent
It can be quite frustrating for shoppers to find out that the product they are looking for is not in stock. More often than not, these customers turn to your competitors to get their required items. The chances of your customers encountering this not-in-stock situation increase as you branch out your eCommerce business.However, this is not a situation in which you need to press your panic button. You can tackle this easily if you have a robust back-in-stock strategy in place. You can integrate your eCommerce store with an option of back-in-stock notification. This will generate a pop-up when your customers visit a product that is not in stock. They'll be asked to enter their email or other available communication channels to ensure that they are notified as soon as the item is restocked.
Even the automobile giant, Tesla, prioritizes capturing the purchase intent of the buyers and reaching out to them later when the product is back in stock. Now, do they sell cars online? Of course not. Many of you might not be aware of it, but Tesla also sells apparel and merchandise for its cult following. And because of its immense popularity across the world, it often runs out of merchandise.However, they have a strong back-in-stock game which allows them to bring their interested customers back. On their eCommerce platform, they just replace the Add to Cart button with a text saying Notify me when the item is restocked.By setting up back-in-stock alerts, you can easily understand the shopper's intent and can successfully bring back interested buyers to the product page. By using Appikon, you can avoid disappointing your customers with the product(s) that are not in stock. Instead, you provide them with an option of subscribing to get notified when the item(s) is back in stock.Around 21% to 43% of the customers walk out to another store when they see that you don't have the product in stock. Appikon also ensures that your customers don't reach out to your competitors to fulfill their demands. More importantly, they would love how convenient you've made it for them to receive the notification.
4. Invest in an inventory management system
As you branch out your eCommerce business and start selling the same product on multiple channels, inventory management can become your nightmare if they are not aligned and in sync. Whenever your inventory is out-of-stock, you risk hurting the customer satisfaction level. Yes, back-in-stock notification is there to bring them back, but you can't just keep disappointing customers every time they visit you.The help of a decent inventory management system and strong inventory strategies is what you need to successfully manage your stock across channels. Here are some of the things you can consider trying for better inventory management:
Promote inventory visibility
In simple terms, inventory visibility is the estimate of the number of stocks you have in your inventory and where they are located at any given instance. Inventory visibility has been a part of the marketing industry for ages, and its role has become even more critical in upscaling the multichannel selling model. It dramatically improves the order fulfillment time and provides customers with a more satisfactory experience.
Keep accurate records
When your numbers don't align with the correct count, inventory management becomes even more challenging. If you are still managing your inventory by using excel sheets, the chances of errors are quite high. You can minimize this and make records more accurate by investing in the right inventory management systems. It comes with a feature of continuous tracking, and being a machine, it doesn't make any mistakes.
Stock level on the safety line
The crux of stock control in multichannel eCommerce is finding the right balance of stock, ensuring that the business is neither over nor under-stocked. When you feed the inventory management system with a sufficient amount of data, it'll be able to predict the sales effectively. This can be helpful for getting the balance right.
5. Optimize products per channel
As we've discussed above already, there are hundreds of multichannel selling options available for you to start listing your products. But do you list each of your products on every channel? The answer is certainly no. You need to figure out the audience that'll want your product and where they shop the most.For example, if you have a diverse collection of products ranging from self-help books to apparel to luxury bags. Now, without any second thoughts, you can straight up list your self-help book collection on Amazon as there's no better place to buy a book. However, people don't trust Amazon when it comes to purchasing clothes or any luxurious item.So after listing the self-help books, you can start looking for other channels for your remaining two products. Now for clothing products, you can go with Myntra as it is well-known for the quality of clothes it provides. And for luxurious bags, you'll have to go with some niche marketplace. The bottom line is that you don't have to sell everything, everywhere. Just ensure that you only list a product on a platform only when there are an ample amount of queries regarding it.
Ready to Branch Out?
Like every selling strategy out there, a multichannel selling strategy comes with many perks and some flaws. However, if you implement the right strategies, you'll be able to minimize these flaws and obtain optimal performance.To summarize it again, you have to start by picking the right channel. Then ensure that you estimate the number of customers present on different channels. After gauging the interest, ensure that whoever visits your product page doesn't leave unsatisfied. Capture their intent so that you can bring them back later. And before listing your products on the channels, ensure that there is enough demand on the channel for that particular product.Moving on, eCommerce is quite a fast-moving industry, and the pace increases as you start to increase the number of channels. With constant demand from different channels, it becomes essential for you to keep a check on your inventory. In case you run out of stock — rely on Appikon to save your customers from reaching out to your competitors.