Previously, we have reviewed the basic differences between omnichannel and multichannel presence in our previous articles. With that being said, you might be wondering if there is more to omnichannel presence than just implementing an inventory management system.
To set the stage for everyone, “sales channel” is a generic term that refers to selling products on the internet. These channels are broken down into two very large categories – namely Marketplaces and Shopping Carts. Some examples of marketplaces include Amazon, eBay, Walmart.com, Jet, and other platforms where sellers virtually assemble in one place competing for customers. Shopping carts on the other hand are curated experiences where the customer buys from a single seller that might include custom websites such as, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and others.
Know where you’re starting
Over half of most online sellers start by selling on Amazon. Amazon is the largest and most powerful marketplace out there. They have created an environment that puts the customer experience first, even if it means sacrificing profit to business owners.
Amazon has built the infrastructure in such a way that they win in all scenarios, giving a double-edged sword for sellers. Ecommerce business owners can start a new product line tomorrow and see nearly instant success, all because Amazon’s algorithms get products in front of the best customers right away. Similarly, a moment’s lapse in attention can shut down even the savviest sellers’ best-selling products and leave them with nothing.
Oftentimes, sellers first see the fast rewards and plethora of tools when selling on Amazon, which results in them overlooking the mountains of rules set in place for them to follow. This often poses challenges to ecommerce business owners who want to scale, as they now need to move from selling to Amazon to a new marketplace or shopping cart. From the right way to post a listing, all the way to managing a complex inventory network, these are just some of the challenges that leave ecommerce owners feeling defeated and forced into multichannel selling standards.
These hurdles are only that though – hurdles! With the right preparation and knowledge, you can get over them in no time.
Avoid “the Shotgun Approach”
Many sellers who contemplate an omnichannel approach will say, “Hey, if I’m adding all this infrastructure, I might as well go big!”
To this, we say, “Absolutely – in due time!”
The key here is that many sellers equate “go big” with “sell everywhere”, and that is no guarantee for success. Always remember that each channel will have its pros and cons. Aside from that, most channels won’t even be worth the headache they cause for the value of sales they generate.
Here are some of the rules-of-thumb Clearinity advocates, to finally help you start your own omnichannel presence:
- Talk to your accountant. Share your plans about moving sales channels prior to starting. This will prepare them to help you better with your new payment processors, new fee structures, and new access issues.
- Plan it like a project, and start with 8-12 months. If you’re planning to go to a new sales channel, you need to be willing to invest 8-12 months of resources and see how it works. Doing this will also help you testing out 15 different channels all at once!
- Seek assistance from an expert. . There are secrets to each and every channel, and having someone to help you with deep experience will go a long way. Hiring a consultant or channel expert can also short-cut your learning curve and reduce project time by half or more!
- Those with deep experience don’t sound like snake-oil salespersons, or the “Buy my course and everything will MAGICALLY work overnight!” people. They have real, relatable experiences and can talk even-handedly about pros and cons that will give you more knowledge about your business. While seeking help from pros is great, take note that they may be hard to find (and may not be cheap at all!)
The Devil is in the Technology
Just like any experience in entrepreneurship, the key to success is knowledge. We’ve laid out some questions you can dive into, to help you get more information:
- What is my budget for tackling technology changes? We could talk all day about how lovely it would be to add 5 sales channels. But, the budget will determine how much we can move the needle. Consider technology costs, as well as upfront expenses of training or education resources. Know your total spend allowance, and your additional monthly expenditure limits.
- How does this change my SEO? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Amazon is a completely different ballgame than SEO for your brand-new Shopify-hosted website.
- How does this change my SEM? Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is all about online ads. Going to eBay may or may not be something that you can work into your current SEM strategy. Suppose you add your own website to the mix, do you know how to target your ads well enough? If so, can you use this knowledge to separate your Amazon targets from your website targets?
- How does this change your fulfillment network? Does a 3PL make sense, or do you need a bigger warehouse? Do you simply need an additional warehouse?
- Will you need new or different payment processors? Shopify will force you to use their payment processor, but BigCommerce won’t.
- How does this change your other technology? Are you ready to learn all about EDI for Home Depot? Do you need omnichannel inventory management software? Will you need other things, like scanners or a POS system?
With the right support, anything is possible
Everything we’ve mentioned is just preliminary steps to help you begin your journey as an omnichannel seller. Always remember that the critical aspect to success in this process will always be having the right support to help you through this large transition. Oftentimes, it may look like creating a network of industry key players. . While other times, it may mean investing in the right people rich with a diverse skill set, consulting you every step of the way. At Clearinity, we pride ourselves on being a little bit of both. We have wide net industry key players and a dedicated team of experts ready to help you transform your business and scale efficiently. We highly recommend supporting yourself with a team like us that pays attention to both your operational viewpoints as well as your bottom line. We’re here to help you in all ways you need. Your success is our success in the ecommerce ecosystem.