With the advent of online selling, the way retailers connect with consumers has changed. Businesses no longer rely solely on brick-and-mortar stores for business; they can access a wider audience online. And options available online are evolving too – store owners can reach even more customers through multichannel selling.
Multichannel selling refers to selling your products in more than one place. For example, you could have an online store, sell your products on an online marketplace, and add a buy button to your Facebook page. That’s 3 ways to get your products in the hands of potential customers.
There are many different strategies to get your products to new customers through multichannel selling. This blog post focuses on how to sell on online marketplaces. It covers:
- Why you should sell across multiple channels
- Some drawbacks to keep in mind
- Popular online marketplaces
- How to decide which marketplace is right for you
- How to integrate your Printful account with an online marketplace
Why you should sell on multiple channels
Selling products online already gives you a global audience – anyone can find you from anywhere in the world. But multichannel selling makes it even easier for new customers to find you and buy your stuff.
There are two big reasons why you should sell on different channels:
- Find new customers
- Increase your revenue
Multichannel selling lets you reach as many customers as possible. The people who shop on your online store might live too far away to visit your brick-and-mortar store. Customers who find your products through an Amazon search might not have heard of your online store otherwise.
And as your customer base grows, so does your revenue.
According to a survey conducted by ChannelAdvisor, 74% of retailers responded that they planned to focus on customer acquisition this year. If this is your goal too, then multichannel selling is the way to go.
Bonus: another big reason to sell across different channels is that Printful makes the process more streamlined. That’s because we manage your inventory, and our integrations are easy to set up.
The drawbacks of multichannel selling
With new sales channels come a few drawbacks and extra responsibilities. Here are some things you need to be aware of:
- Each marketplace has its own rules and restrictions. You must comply to each marketplace’s rules. Sometimes this means you can’t brand your store the way you’d like, or you might not be able to sell the products you want. For example, Etsy has rules about working with outside manufacturers.
- Inventory. Managing inventory is difficult with multiple sales channels. You have to make sure you have enough products for each channel and that you can deliver every order. The good news is that tools like Stitch Labs can make this easier.
- Fees. Many marketplaces will require you to pay fees. These can range from monthly subscriptions to a percentage of each sale.
- Setting up and keeping track. Setting up on a new marketplace, familiarizing yourself with how it works, and maintaining it is a serious time commitment.
- Tax season gets complicated. You’ll have to pull data from each sales channel when filing your taxes.
These obstacles can be overcome, and they’re well worth the time and effort with the right strategy.
Popular marketplaces to sell on
These are some of the more popular marketplaces you can sell on. It’s not by any means an exhaustive list. There are countless more options, so use this as a springboard to search for more.
Amazon is an online marketplace giant with over 2 million small businesses, retail brands, and individuals selling to potential customers. In 2014, Amazon boasted over $79 billion in sales, up 17% from the year before. And they report over 109 million unique monthly visitors. That’s a lot of potential customers.
- Amazon has strict seller guidelines to maintain its commitment to excellent customer service, so make sure you adhere to their rules.
- You can choose between two seller plans: Individual or Professional. The Individual plan has no monthly fees and is ideal for smaller sellers who plan on selling less than 40 items a month. The Professional plan costs $39.99 a month and it’s meant for experienced, high-volume sellers.
- Whenever a product is bought on Amazon marketplace, sellers have to pay fees. The exact amount depends on the type of product sold and whether you have an Individual or Professional plan. Take a look here for a full breakdown of Amazon’s fees.
- The amount of branding allowed on your Amazon Marketplace store is somewhat limited.
- It can be difficult to compete on Amazon. There are a ton of products available and sellers have to compete with Amazon’s low prices.
- See all of Amazon’s information for sellers here and check out their new seller FAQ here.
Ebay is another marketplace giant; it reported 154 million active users in 2014. It may be known for auction-type sales, but sellers can also offer fixed price items and open their own stores.
- You’ll have to sign up for one of Ebay’s monthly subscriptions, which start at $15.95/month.
- Ebay has more store branding options than Amazon, so you can customize the way your store looks (eg. adding a header photo).
- You may be charged an insertion fee for listing new products. This depends on your subscription, the type of product, and whether it’s listed at a fixed price or auction.
- If your items sell, you’ll be charged a final value fee. The amount depends on the type of product sold. Read up on Ebay’s fees here.
- There are several ways to accept payments: through PayPal, a merchant credit card, or payment upon pickup.
- Read their getting started guide here and some of their FAQs here and here.
Etsy specializes in handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. In 2014, they earned $1.9 billion in sales and 100,000,000 monthly visitors.
- Setting up your store is free and there are no monthly subscriptions, but you’ll have to pay fees for sales, creating listings, etc.
- You would have to apply to use Printful as an outside manufacturer. The application process is detailed and you’ll have to submit information about Printful and your participation in the creative process, among other things.
- While there is a lot of competition on Etsy, you might be able to price your products higher on this platform. People expect to pay more for handmade items.
- 57% of Etsy shoppers are women, so their audience skews slightly female. Still, the number of male shoppers doesn’t trail too far behind.
- Etsy recently announced the launch of Pattern, a paid tool that lets sellers import their listings to a standalone ecommerce store.
- This blog post goes over how to set up an integration with Printful and Etsy in more detail.
- Take a look at the Etsy Seller Handbook here.
Storenvy has made big waves in the ecommerce world – it was kicked out of Y Combinator but managed to round up funding to become the popular ecommerce platform and marketplace it is today.
- You can sell your products on Storenvy’s marketplace or use it as a platform to open your own store.
- Printful integrates with Storenvy, so setting up is easy.
- Opening your custom store is free, but Storenvy charges you 10% for every sale made on its marketplace.
- You will also be charged the 10% fee for every Marketplace Assisted Sale on your custom Storenvy store. Meaning, you’ll be charged every time a customer buys something from your custom store if they discovered you on Storenvy’s marketplace.
- Choose between Stripe or PayPal as your payment processor (for your marketplace listings and custom store).
- Click here to read more about Storenvy and how it works.
Tip: Printful has an integration with Inktale, making it very easy to set up a store there. All it takes is just a few clicks to push your designs to Inktale and start selling.
Remember that although the big marketplaces get a lot of traffic and recognition, there is also a lot more competition. Do a search to find marketplaces that are more tailored to your niche; sometimes smaller marketplaces are more effective than the big players.
Which marketplace is right for you?
First and foremost, you need to strategize where you want to sell. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, so choose wisely. Do your research and compile a list of marketplaces with these points in mind:
- Your target audience
You want to attract new customers, so go to the marketplaces where you’re more likely to find them. What’s your niche? Where do people search for your products?
- Your products
There is a lot of competition on online marketplaces, so you want to go where your products can stand out and where your prices can compete. Also consider the types of products that are sold on each marketplace and whether you fit in.
When you have a better idea of where you want to sell, you can start looking at each marketplace’s details, like their regulations and fees. Pick the marketplaces with fees you can afford and with regulations you can comply to. You also want to make sure that your products can compete, and your target customers will find you.
How to integrate your Printful account with an online marketplace
Connecting your Printful account with a marketplace is easy thanks to our partnership with ShipStation. ShipStation is essentially a middleman that allows you to connect your Printful account with platforms we don’t integrate with.
The first step is to sign up with ShipStation. It’s a paid service, so take some time to browse and decide which subscription suits your needs. Also take time to familiarize yourself with the other aspects of ShipStation. Check out their support page here.
You’ll also have to sign up with your desired marketplace. The process is different for each one. After you’ve signed up, add your selling channel to your ShipStation account – click here for instructions.
When your ShipStation account and marketplace are connected, then connect your ShipStation account with Printful. Here’s how:
- Connect your Printful account with ShipStation
Go to Stores on your Printful Dashboard and click “Connect” under the ShipStation tab.
- Enter your API key and secret
Once you’ve clicked “Connect” in the last step, you’ll be directed to the ShipStation Integration page. Scroll to the bottom and enter your API key and secret, which you can find by clicking the link above the dialogue box.
- Connect and choose your marketplaces
Once you’ve entered your API information, select your marketplace and you’re good to go! All the orders that come in for products on your marketplace stores will go to Printful to fulfilment.
Take a look at this video tutorial for step-by-step instructions and more info.
Note: the first orders that come in through ShipStation will show up as unsynced products. So you’ll have to manually sync the first order for every product.
Alternate ways to sell Printful products on online marketplaces
If you would like to sell on a marketplace that can’t be integrated with Printful or ShipStation, that’s not a problem. What you can do in this scenario is manually submit your orders to Printful. When a customer makes an order on your marketplace store, you can manually input that order with Printful, and then we’d print and ship it to your customer.
Keep in mind that this can be time consuming if you have a lot of orders coming in. Take a look at this video for more info on placing manual orders.
And if there are any Shopify Plus users reading this, then take advantage of the platform’s multichannel capabilities. With a Shopify Plus account, you can push the products on your Shopify store directly to Amazon. It’ll show up on the backend of your Shopify account and on your Printful account.
Go beyond online marketplaces
By now I hope you’re convinced that multichannel selling is the future of ecommerce, that you have a good understanding of online marketplaces, and that you know how to set it up with Printful. But remember, there are many more sales channels for you to explore!
For one, there’s your online store. You can also take your brand offline and open up a pop-up shop or attend a craft fair. Or sell on your social media channels by adding buy buttons to your profiles and posts.
The way consumers shop and the opportunities to connect with them continues to grow, so keep up with where your customers go.
Do you have any multichannel selling tips? Share in the comments!