E-commerce websites aren’t that much different from any other website, in that everything out there is product – which means everything has a conversion point. For example, a blog post, no matter how entertaining or informative for the reader, is put out there to accomplish something: gain attention, build authority, build backlinks, increase ranking and relativity, etc.
However, one of the main differences between an e-commerce site and any other site out there is sales, and that one difference alone makes them as alike as apples and oranges.
E-commerce Sales for the Multichannel Business
Here’s a scary thought: do you know where your merchandise is? Do you know all the places it’s being sold? If you have a multi-channel store, then the answer may be “no”. If you can’t give a definitive “yes”, and even if you can, you may need to revisit how – and where – you sell your product.
What Is Multichannel Marketing?
For many businesses, sales – or at least figuring sales channels – are easy. You sell the product from your brick and mortar store directly to the consumer or you sell your products from your online store directly to the consumer. However, the bigger the business it seems, the more complicated the channels.
Multichannel marketing is just that: marketing that goes through multiple channels. An example of a business with multichannel marketing would be if you sold through brick and mortar, sold online, and sold to distributors.
Often what goes through one channel will never cross paths with what goes through another channel. Customers either go to your store or they go to a distributor. They either buy online or buy in person.
Multichannel marketing works with many businesses and is actually quite common, but difficulties can arise the higher the number of channels. For example, if you have multiple distributors, sell online in your own store, and sell offline in your own store, things get more complicated… and therein lies the rub, as the saying goes.
3 Tips to Improve Your Multichannel Marketing Efforts
If you have a multichannel marketing strategy, I’ll ask again: do you know where your product is being sold? Without proper management, your strategy can quickly grow to the point where your left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. In other words, things can get out of hand and you can lose track of what’s going where for how much.
Here are a few tips you can put into action right now that can improve your multichannel marketing efforts:
1. Learn to create omnichannel marketing strategies.
Omnichannel marketing, like multichannel marketing, deals with multiple consumer touchpoints. The difference is that omnichannel allows for consumers to interact with you on several channels.
For example, a friend of mine went into a physical pet store a few days ago. She purchased with her card and gave her phone number for rewards. She received a text to that phone number before she’d even walked out of the store from the store’s payment vendor, Square, which informed her that the store had an ongoing promotion for new customers, and she had a $5 off coupon for her next visit. Oh, and by the way, says the text, you can keep track of you’ve bought by following this link, which took her to:
- The Square page that showed her new account
- The list of what she’d purchased
- Her coupon for $5 off of next purchase
- How much she’d have to buy to get another coupon for $10
- And a recommendation that she enter her email address for coupons, which would give her two more points towards that $10 coupon
To top it all off, my friend could user her coupon in the store or in their online store.
This is an example of omnichannel marketing at its best, where the marketing strategy reaches out to the consumer where they are, not just where the store is.
2. Monitor your products online.
A client of ours recently found out their products were being sold online for less than half of what the client sold them for. In short, they were cannibalizing their own sales by selling to the distributors without any rules. Depending on the site, the cost for the same product could vary as much as $200 or more. Worse yet, there were several sellers that weren’t even on the approved distributor list!
How can you combat the chaos? In short, through monitoring the web, and you can do this either manually or automagically. To do so manually is an extremely time-intensive task, so only do this if you have a lot of time on your hands or only have a few products.
For automatically, there are several options, including:
These are just a few; there are many other options. Monitor the web for your products and the prices at which those products are being sold.
3. Locate areas of cannibalizing sales.
It’s easy to think that once you’ve sold your product to a distributor there’s nothing more to worry about. The sale has been made and you can go on your merry way. However, if you sold to a distributor and that distributor doesn’t have a non-compete clause, or something other form of contract to keep their prices reasonable, you could end up losing sales on your end, as well.
For example, our client was finding out that the sales they expected on their online website were falling victim to the consumers’ need to research for the best price. They sell to the distributor for less, the consumer buys from the distributor for less, which reduces profit for the brand.
Consider setting rules for your distributors in regard to sales, overall cost difference and language used to describe the product. Also consider how low you are willing to let your distributors sell your product and if it’s at a level that you can compete with. If you only sell a specific kind of product to your distributors, make sure the product doesn’t look like what you sell on your site. Allow yourself to be unique among your own products, as well.
I often talk about the need to connect the dots when discussing social and optimization marketing efforts. You want your customers and clients to view you as one, giant, welcoming entity, so you share your social accounts on your website and vice versa. If you see a question about your niche on Twitter, you reach out and answer, and then write a blog post about it. Send that blog post to the person as a helpful gesture – this is all a way to keep your customers within your sphere of influence.
With multichannel marketing you want to do the same. Connect the dots. Keep your customers within your sphere of influence. However, you also want to keep your distributors within your sphere of influence. From conception to end-point sale with the consumer, never lose track of your product. Knowing the product journey translates into knowing the consumer journey, which translates in turn to a rich business-to-consumer relationship that can send your business soaring.