Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay dominate the commerce world. While brick and mortar stores’ growth flatlined over 2020, the ecommerce industry grew by 32%.
As an online business owner, you need to “meet people where they are, not push them where you want them to be”, as a successful marketer Meghan Keaney Anderson wrote. The concept illustrates a simple ecommerce strategy that’ll help you reach more customers—multichannel retailing.
In this blog post, we’ll focus on how to increase your revenue by selling on multiple platforms and what online sales channels can best support your marketing strategy. But most importantly, we’re going to dive deep into multichannel retailing.
Multichannel retailing, or multichannel selling, is the strategy of selling your products on more than one channel to reach a larger audience.
The more space you carve out for your products online, the more potential sales you’re gaining. Plus, the sooner you start with multichannel retailing, the more potential revenue you’ll get in the future.
There are countless potential combinations of sales channels to use for your business. A common multichannel selling example would be having a main store with Shopify, a secondary set-up on an online marketplace like Etsy, and a buy button on your Facebook page.
Selling on multiple platforms brings many advantages that on their own are insufficient, but put together, pave the road for the final goal: increasing your sales.
Sticking to one sales channel limits how many people discover and buy from you. Luckily, multichannel retailing can help you solve this problem by:
Ecommerce marketplaces and ecommerce platforms share a goal: to support sales.
Although they might’ve been designed to be rivals, marketplaces and ecommerce platforms offer benefits that, if combined, can tackle each other’s weaknesses.
Having a marketplace and an ecommerce platform at the same time builds the foundation for a holistic marketing strategy:
Selling on several different channels can help you generate more sales. But with new sales channels come a few extra challenges you need to be aware of:
You can overcome these obstacles. You just need patience and an extra hand from tools that are specifically designed to minimize the downsides of multichannel retailing: multichannel retailing software.
These tools will help you to:
First and foremost, you need to understand each marketplace. Do your research and compile a list of ecommerce marketplaces with these points in mind:
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular platforms you should start selling on.
Amazon is an online marketplace giant that has over 310 million active customers and welcomes over 197 million unique visitors every month. Amazon holds 41.1% of all the US ecommerce market and 7.7% of all retail sales.
According to the Amazon Advertising Report, 74% of US consumers start searching for a product on Amazon.
Amazon is the place to get the best prices online, so competing in this marketplace by only offering low prices can get difficult.
If you want to be able to compete on Amazon, you need to carefully follow their seller guidelines and pay attention to:
Selling on Amazon has a cost. The platform charges you two fees, one flat and one variable per every item you sell. The exact amount depends on the type of product sold and whether you have an Individual or Professional plan.
Etsy is a marketplace that specializes in handmade goods, vintage items, and craft supplies. It’s a go-to place for 90 million online shoppers who are looking for unique products that aren’t available in big-name retail stores.
Setting up a store on Etsy is free and there are no monthly subscription fees. However, you’ll be charged a fee for listing the item, plus 5% of the total item costs (plus postage) on every sale.
On Etsy, you might be able to price your products higher because people expect to pay more for personalized items or handmade items.
eBay is another marketplace giant. Today, it has around 19 million sellers with over 1.7 billion live listings. According to their stats, there were 159 million active buyers over the second quarter of 2021, being only beaten by Amazon in this statistic.
eBay is growing year on year. Follow these guidelines to take advantage of eBay’s potential:
eBay has more store branding options than Amazon. You can modify your store aesthetic, for example, by adding a header photo.
eBay has three types of fees you should be aware of:
Storenvy is a unique ecommerce marketplace that offers two options to start selling, a storefront and a social marketplace. Storenvy positions itself as a place where indie brands can find their home and encounter buyers who are interested in one-of-a-kind products.
If you want to start selling on Storenvy, you’ll first need to decide whether you want to sell on their marketplace or to open your own store, considering what option suits your goals better. Keep in mind:
Do your research and choose the ecommerce platform that best suits your preferences and goals.
Although factors such as your target audience, products, or potential competition aren’t decisive as with marketplaces, there are points you need to take into consideration when choosing an ecommerce platform:
If you want to tap into the benefits of multichannel ecommerce selling, building an ecommerce store is the perfect way to connect with your customers on a more personal level and grow your brand awareness.
There’s a long list of ecommerce builders available. Let’s have a look at the most popular ones:
Shopify is a platform that gives you all the necessary tools to build an ecommerce store. It’s used by over 170 million people in 175 countries, generating a total revenue of $2,929.5 million in 2020, being only surpassed by Amazon within the ecommerce industry.
Shopify is a hosted platform. That means they help you with the heavy lifting of your store set up. When using Shopify, you can benefit from all this:
The platform itself is very intuitive and offers 100+ free templates to design your store as you see fit. Another perk of using Shopify is its exhaustive app store, which offers a long list of tools you need to boost your ecommerce business, from SEO to email automation.
The price of having a store with Shopify varies depending on what features you want to have access to. But for starting a small store the basic plan of $29/month should do the trick.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that adds ecommerce features to your existing WordPress website. This plugin is used by over 4.4 million websites worldwide, and it’s been downloaded by 28% of ecommerce store owners.
The WooCommerce plugin is free, but it doesn’t include a hosting partner and SSL certificate. Plus, you’ll need to take care of the setup and maintenance of the website. Luckily, Printful offers solutions to tackle both the hosting and the website setup disadvantages.
WooCommerce is a good choice for those who have an existing website, possibly a blog, and want to transform it into an ecommerce store. Some of the advantages of WooCommerce are:
With WooCommerce, you have a lot of room to brand your ecommerce store, as you have access to a long list of free themes offered by WordPress.
Squarespace is a website builder that started offering ecommerce solutions in 2013, and in 2021 they were the most-used ecommerce software platform, with a market share of 23.51%.
Squarespace is the perfect platform for designers, artists, and photographers. As it was originally created as a website builder, Squarespace offers unparalleled customization tools, helping you build a stunning website.
While Squarespace still holds some technical disadvantages compared to its competitors—it has very few payment options—it’s quickly catching up, and offers some of the best attributes on the market:
Squarespace offers three different plans for ecommerce—they range from $26 to $54— and each one is more comprehensive than the other.
Once you’ve found a platform that suits your needs, make sure to check whether it’s on the list of Printful ecommerce integrations. We have tutorials for each and every integration we offer, including:
If you’d like to sell on a marketplace that doesn’t integrate with Printful, don’t worry. You can still use Printful by manually submitting the orders you receive. Take a look at this video for more info on placing manual orders.
When they appeared in 2014, social media buy buttons were thought to revolutionize the ecommerce world. It didn’t happen straight away, but we’re seeing it happening now.
In 2020, GfK’s survey showed that 18% of US consumers have shopped online by using the “buy button” on social media, compared to 13% in 2019. That number rises to 37% for 15-22-year-olds.
Social ecommerce is bound to become a pivotal part of the online shopping experience. It’s expected that in 2021 US social commerce sales will rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion. Now’s the chance to get it on the ground floor.
Add social media buy buttons to your Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook posts, but don’t turn your profiles into a marketplace. Rely on your other sales channels and use the buy button only when it adds value to the customer, like on time-sensitive offers or exclusive discounts.
Multichannel retailing is a part of ecommerce that can’t be overlooked. Join several marketplaces or start selling on your favorite social media platforms by adding buy buttons to your profiles and posts.
Adopting a multichannel retailing strategy may be a challenge, but as you can see, there are ways to maximize its benefits and minimize its potential drawbacks. So pick your sales channels wisely and be sure you can handle the increase in sales.
Do you have any multichannel retailing tips? Share in the comments!
This article was originally published in April 2016; it has since been updated.
Alejandro studied journalism and now is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful. He loves creative writing and communicating in general. He's a bit of a wanderer, but he also wants to have a dog.
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