Companies often struggle initially when building an e-commerce presence and subsequently when trying to increase in scale. The most successful method of growing with e-commerce, in my opinion, involves a great website that then connects to additional marketplaces, such as Amazon, Walmart and eBay.
You never want to get too reliant on any one channel for product sales. If a company like Amazon changes its listings and you move down the listings page, your sales could massively drop. ChannelAdvisor is one of the best platforms to help you effectively scale across many marketplaces.
Here are nine tips for maximizing your presence across multiple e-commerce channels:
Connect Your E-Commerce Site to A Platform like ChannelAdvisor
Unifying your e-commerce business in a single platform will help you add or subtract e-commerce channels easily.
The first step in unifying your online presence is to connect your e-commerce store to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, then connecting your ERP to ChannelAdvisor. This method ensures all of your orders are flowing through a central system and the marketplaces in your network are showing availability.
The second is to link your e-commerce stores directly to your connected marketplaces through a platform similar to ChannelAdvisor that allows the flow of data between each channel.
Leverage Marketplaces to Grow Your Brand
Marketplaces are the best way to grow instant traffic and sales. The traffic is already there through marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart and eBay, who have done the hard work for you. Providing good products, information and pricing will ensure sales. Leveraging sales growth by reinvesting in your brand and website will increase the number of people who see your brand in these marketplaces. Instead of attempting to pave your own way, cut costs and access a readily available customer base by scaling your website alongside both major marketplaces and emerging ones.
Leverage Data from Marketplaces
Some marketplaces provide more data than others. You should gather data on how to improve sales, potentially through customer emails on some platforms. Applying this data to your website and making adjustments will drive traffic there too. Also, understanding your product data and what works on the marketplaces will help you discover changes to apply to your website to increase visibility.
Use the Scale of Marketplaces to Reduce Costs
E-commerce is all about scale. It’s hard to make any money when you sell in low volume. Marketplaces can help you increase sales and reduce inventory costs by buying in bulk or manufacturing in larger quantities. Simply put, marketplaces are the majority of e-commerce sales worldwide.
Add Custom Options and Services to Your E-Commerce Store
Custom options and services provide a unique customer experience that drives people to your e-commerce store instead of marketplaces. Finding ways to create a remarkable store and product offering, as well as exceptional customer service and content, will add value to your reputation.
Invest in Loyalty Programs
Having a great loyalty program could help attract users to your store as you build up a larger following. Loyalty programs can be very effective in driving repeat purchases, which are the key to sustained e-commerce growth. These can also often be coupled with other strategies to grow brand loyalty and increase user-generated content.
Aggregate Reviews with Bazaarvoice
Bazaarvoice is one of the leading platforms connecting companies with their customers’ reviews, and it is perfect for growing your online presence with marketplaces. Rather than having all your reviews separated across many platforms, aggregate them all on Bazaarvoice and add them to your website. Thermacell does this very well, in addition to effectively selling products on its stores and other marketplaces.
You Don’t Have to Sell Everything Everywhere
Marketplaces can be incredibly powerful and help you sell certain products in certain markets. However, you can strategically decide where and how to sell on many different channels. It’s not an all-or-nothing strategy. Some products can be sold on different marketplaces, while others can be sold solely on your website. Apple is notorious for not giving discounts or selling through third parties like most manufacturers. Have you noticed how Apple uses marketplaces to sell certain accessories and older models?
Use Marketplaces as Testing Grounds
Not sure if a product line or new product launch will work? Testing it out on marketplaces can be a much better way to gauge success compared with trying to sell on other channels.
A lot has been written about how marketplaces are, in many ways, the new retail chains. I would use the analogy of marketplaces as the new big box stores and your website as your own retail location. Therefore, having a strategy that incorporates both is extremely effective, and marketplaces will be the largest place to generate sales and immediate sales volume. You still want to have your own presence and brand online that you can control, similar to how you would run a retail store.
Finding a way to integrate your website and your presence on marketplaces will likely be your best opportunity to tap into a broader audience for your products.
This post was contributed by Isaiah Bollinger, Chief Executive Officer at Trellis. Isaiah co-founded Trellis to design and develop web experiences that would provide a business, large or small, a competitive advantage on the Internet. Through Isaiah’s leadership, Trellis is a one-of-a-kind e-commerce agency able to offer an entire technology and marketing solution from conception to healthy growth in online sales.