If you’re engaged in online retail, you’ve either set up your own eСommerce site or utilize tools such as eBay and Amazon. As consumers are given more options to control their own buying experience, though, it becomes necessary to expand outside of a single marketplace. To accomplish this, you need an efficient multi-channel inventory management system. If that sounds foreign to you, the following introduction should get you up to speed.
Key Challenges of Multi-Channel Retail
As with any other potential improvement in life, there are challenges to implementing multi-channel retail. After all, if it were the simplest method of doing business, everyone would already be doing it. From finding the right inventory management software to dealing with multi-channel shipping, it is first necessary to understand the challenges you may encounter.
1. Relevance and Targeting
Many consumers will never shop on Etsy, and there are others who will never venture onto Xoole. When expanding to a multi-channel strategy, you need to understand where your products fit in and how to target relevant demographics.
2. Cost and Resource Requirements
Moving into the multichannel retail world means higher costs thanks to listing fees and necessary man-hours. Keeping track of and synchronizing your inventory can also be a drain on resources that can affect your standing on a marketplace. This is why a strong understanding of inventory management basics can help.
3. High-Volume Selling Growing Pains
The whole point of multi-channel retail is to sell more products, but the initial influx catches many budding entrepreneurs off guard. You may have a ton of shipping orders to send out while simultaneously having to keep track of inventory. The result can be having to scale back on their expansion plans.
Even if you overcome all of these challenges, you’ll still need to understand what drives consumers. This becomes especially true in the multi-channel retail environment.
Factors that Affect Consumer Choice
There are a variety of factors that affect consumer choice, and unsurprisingly, the top three have some relation to cost. The price of an item is the largest consideration for consumers, but the cost of shipping and the speed in which an item arrives are a close second.
Fewer consumers care about discount offers, but they’re still important to nearly three-fourths of shoppers. Always remember, though, that price isn’t everything. The variety of options you provide, whether you offer flexible returns and the availability of trustworthy reviews are also very important to consumers.
Benefits of Multi-Channel Strategies
Increased reach and visibility are the most obvious benefits of a multi-channel strategy. While this may seem like enough, there are several other advantages to making the change in your retail business. Here are the most important.
1. Harnessing Marketplace Power
Each marketplace has its own benefits over the others, and you can take advantage of each through multi-channel retail. There are plenty of inventory management ‘how to’ guides available for each marketplace, but the right tools can avoid having to learn all of these.
2. Target Multiple Buyer Stages
Over one-third of consumers find a product on one channel but purchase it on another. This is because they utilize separate channels during different steps in the buyer process. By having a presence on all of them, you increase the likelihood of your product being purchased.
3. Harness the Power of Search
A larger presence online means a higher likelihood of coming up in Google searches. It’s basic search engine optimization (SEO). By creating your own branded eCommerce site, you’ll see even bigger benefits as your page moves up the rankings.
The benefits of multi-channel retail are undeniable, but how can you make your website worthy of being part of such a great strategy? Read on!
Taking Your Webstore to the Next Level
Even when someone finds your product on eBay or Amazon, they’re going to do additional research. Wouldn’t it be great if they ended up on your professional-looking website with great product reviews? To accomplish this, you’ll need to improve upon your own eCommerce site. Fortunately, there are several methods to do so.
- Be clear in what you’re saying: Don’t use overly-technical jargon in an effort to raise search ranking.
- Think branding in everything: Focus on your brand, whether it is voice or logo color, to stick out in consumers’ minds.
- Speed things up: Customers will buy elsewhere if your site loads too slowly. Focus on ways to fix slow speeds.
- Utilize in-store bullets: When listing the uses, benefits or anything related to your product, always use bullets. They’re easy on the eye and simple to browse.
4 Pitfalls of Multi-Channel Management
Setting up a multi-channel strategy is one thing, but managing it is quite another. There are many pitfalls that you’ll face with inventory multi-channel management and other aspects of running a growing business, but these are the biggest ones to focus on.
1. Cross-Listing on Multiple Channels
Sure, you can list each item manually on every channel. If you don’t find a more efficient way, though, you’re never going to grow.
2. Lack of Real-Time Inventory Visibility
Did that product already sell on eBay before someone purchased it on your website? You need an automated way to keep track of everything.
3. Not Optimizing Operational Processes
Outdated tracking systems or handling everything manually can lead to huge mistakes that result in negative reviews.
4. Keeping Up with Customer Demand
Outdated tracking systems also fail to help you predict customer demand. Without doing this accurately, you’ll never take your business to the next level.
Benefits of SaaS eCommerce Solution
To overcome all of the implementation and managerial pitfalls of multi-channel wholesale, you’ll need the right tools on your side. Software as a service (SaaS) e-commerce solutions is an essential part of inventory management best practices. Just look at these benefits.
- Easy and automatic listings on multiple sites.
- More SKUs can be simultaneously managed with automation.
- Inventory can be tracked in real-time.
- Integrated shipping maximizes efficiency.
Multi-Channel Retail is Essential – Not Optional
Multi-channel inventory management is essential for any online retailer who wants to expand their business. Not only does this allow for real-time inventory tracking and the ability to maximize your reach, but it also provides a more efficient process that helps retailers keep their prices low while maintaining customer satisfaction. In the end, failing to focus on eCommerce inventory management and other multi-channel necessities will leave you dead in the water against your competitors.