Guide To Multi-Channel eCommerce Retailing
What Is Multi-Channel eCommerce?
It's not so long ago that building an eCommerce website was considered the natural extension of a traditional brick and mortar shop.
How times change. In 2018 building an eCommerce store is considered just the starting point of a multi-pronged approach to selling online. As more marketplaces supplement the behemoths that are Amazon and eBay, online eCommerce retailers need to find ways of integrating their product display in many different formats.
When you offer more channels through which your customers can purchase, you massively boost your sales and revenue. On average, online stores with one additional marketplace, such as Amazon or eBay, enjoy a 38% boost in revenue and those with two or more channels can expect a 120% increase. More and more consumers start their online shopping experience through comparison search engines and marketplaces as well as traditional search engines.
In addition to integrating products with these external websites and data feeds there is also a requirement to manage inventory, warehousing space, suppliers, delivery channels, accounting software and other reporting requirements. A lot is going on, and it is a complex challenge to make your user experience uniform across the board.
Trying to manually administer listings on eBay and Amazon as well as your website can be a quick descent into a chaotic process of channel management. How do you keep track of stock for example when you are selling across three separate channels? Adding Pinterest, Etsy, Tesco, Wowcher, Instagram or other emerging channel markets will compound the problem.
Understanding which channels it is worth investing your time and effort into is also part of the jigsaw because advanced reporting techniques can uncover nuggets of information that will dramatically improve your bottom line. For example, knowing which products sell best on which channels or understanding the best performing social media platform in terms of lifetime revenue and engagement. Channel reporting is a valuable tool.
Managing eCommerce multi-channels has become a necessity, and in this guide, I'm going to help you decide which software and services will help you build a thriving eCommerce business on top of the many pillars of available revenue sources.
To help you decide which route to take I've broken the process down into two parts:
- Building a Multi-Channel sales funnel from scratch
- Adding Multi-Channel to your existing setup
Building A Multi-Channel Sales Funnel From Scratch
If you are about to start building an eCommerce website and have had the foresight to think about integrating multi-channel eCommerce from the beginning then congratulations, you are ahead of the curve!
First of all, I'll examine the key features of each eCommerce website builder that support multi-channel selling. Here are five of the best eCommerce platforms for UK sellers that I consider to be adept at handling multi-channel requirements and the native channels that they support:
Facebook, Amazon and eBay integrations. Native Point Of Sale Support.
Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Pinterest and Square Point Of Sale Support
eBay Listing Management
eBay Listing Management
Amazon, eBay, Facebook Instagram, Messenger, Pinterest, Houzz, KiK, Lyst, Wanelo, Buzzfeed, Google Shopping, Shopify Point Of Sale.
If you are planning on listing your products on Amazon and eBay, then both BigCommerce and Shopify would be your first point of call. Do not overlook BigCommerce, they are a rapidly growing company, have just opened offices in London, and the enterprise platform has great reporting features.
If eBay is going to be your only other channel, then EKM and Bluepark are obvious choices for UK sellers. For simplicity of use and users want to sell through their website and eBay in the shortest possible setup time then EKM should be your choice.
For those that are prepared to take the time to develop other custom integrations then Bluepark should be your choice as their software is designed for more complex retailing.
Both companies are working hard on adding more integrations, and I'll update this listing as they become available.
3Dcart comes in as the fifth choice merely because they don't have the resources of Shopify or Bigcommerce and the UK support for EKM and Bluepark is much better. 3Dcart is strong in business to business sales though so if B2B is a majority of your revenue, then they would be a good choice for that reason.
Adding Multi-Channel To Your Existing eCommerce Platform
If the existing options of your current eCommerce software don't support a channel, you want to sell through then consider buying a third party option.
The pricing for a third party multi-channel option can rapidly pay for itself in saved administration time, so although some products are upwards of £250 per month, you will still make significant savings if you sell a lot through many different channels.
Here are the key features you can expect from multi-channel listing software:
List your stock items on Amazon, eBay and other channels from one central location.
Manage your stock levels from a central dashboard.
Sort, allocate and process your orders. Print and package your items from a central dashboard.
Print delivery labels and send tracking information directly to customers from your chosen shipping providers.
Create detailed and accurate financial reports on individual channels, custom date ranges, and specific products and categories.
Here is a list of eCommerce multi-channel software with the platforms they support and the key features. Each has its own listing in the Storebuilder directory, so please add a review if you've used any of them.