You’re ready to grow your business. You want to expand to new channels because you think you have what it takes to be a multichannel seller.
Now all you need is a strategy. Multichannel selling is easier said than done.
Before you dive into your multichannel strategy, here’s five multichannel factors you must think about if you want to be a successful seller across multiple channels.
It All Comes Back to Customer Experience
There are many reasons to expand your business to multiple sales channels. Whatever your reason is, there’s one thing your strategy must always focus on.
That thing, or rather who, is your customers!
Your customer experience should always be the focal point of your multichannel selling strategy. A decision’s effect on your customers should always be considered.
89% of companies expect to compete solely on customer experience by 2020, as reported by Gartner.
You can no longer ignore bad customer experiences. These experiences will be your brand’s differentiator in an evolving, competitive market.
Your customers are smart. They’ve got loads of options for who to buy from. They can easily switch their loyalty. Customers will repeatedly buy from retailers who consistently meet their expectations.
So, keep customer experience in mind as we walk through the remaining four multichannel factors.
What to Consider For Your Multichannel Selling Strategy
These factors should be considered when developing your multichannel selling strategy. They’re the foundation of building a strong, multichannel business. They’ll help you provide a stellar customer experience.
Choosing Sales Channels
You want to grow your business by selling in new sales channels. Choosing which new sales channels to sell on takes thoughtful consideration.
Where are your customers shopping? Where is there the most potential for new sales?
As an Amazon seller, you might be ready to break out to your own branded site. Maybe you’re an eCommerce seller aiming to open your first physical store.
Some sellers want to expand their business by adding a bunch of new sales channels at once. You want to add Amazon, eBay, Jet, and Rakuten at the same time. But, it’s not that simple. Each channel brings its own complexities and challenges.
Pick one or two new channels first that you can focus on. If you need help deciding what channels to choose, check out our guide: Evaluating Channel Expansion Opportunities.
Picking Multichannel Retail Systems
Once you’ve picked your channels, you then need to think about what systems to use. Some systems are more equipped for multichannel than others.
Trying out your own webstores? There’s loads of eCommerce platforms to choose from. Looking for a new POS? Do you need a cloud-based POS system?
Becoming a multichannel seller can also require updating any of your backend systems. Are you using an outdated, legacy ERP? It’s going to be harder to make that work for all of your new sales channels.
Picking the right systems to run your business is crucial to your success.
As you add new channels, your business processes are going to be more complex. You’re going to be sharing data to fulfill orders, keep inventory updated, and maintain product information.
Not sure what systems you need? Check out our Multichannel Implementer’s Guide that helps you evaluate eCommerce, POS, and ERP systems for a multichannel business.
How to Integrate Systems
You’ve got your channels chosen and your systems implemented, what else could you need?
Integration is key to your multichannel business! It’s how you create a seamless experience for your customers, and operations.
When selling on multiple channels, you must have one, central location to manage your orders, inventory, and product data. This gives you an overarching view of your entire business. You shouldn’t manage each channel in a silo.
See how separating your lines of business creates disparate experiences for both merchants and their customers.
Your customers will shop across all your sales channels. They may research an item online, then buy in-store. They might buy an item online, then want to return it in-store.
To ensure a consistent customer experience across multiple channels, your systems and processes must be integrated. You’ll be able to keep inventory levels accurate, fulfill orders quicker, and create high-quality product information.
It’s complicated selling in multiple channels. You don’t want to get stuck hand-keying online orders into your ERP, or any other type of manual data entry.
Multichannel sellers need the help of integration platforms, like nChannel that specialize in integrating your retail systems. These platforms take the complexity out of multichannel selling, so you can focus on the customer experience.
Advanced Multichannel Capabilities
As your grow, you’ll want to gear your multichannel strategy to include more advanced capabilities. These capabilities will be sure to set your business a part from your competitors. You’ll be a true multichannel seller.
Each of those topics deserve a post of their own. We don’t need to get into all the details here, so here are the essentials of what you need to know. Advanced multichannel capabilities give you the ability to:
- Drop ship orders to integrated suppliers
- Work tightly with 3PLs
- Split orders to optimize fulfillment costs
- Inventory visibility across entire supply chain
- Define workflows for how orders are fulfilled
The benefits for your customers then are:
- Buy online, return in-store
- Buy online, pick-up in-store
- If an item is out-of-stock in-store, an associate can purchase the item online for the customer
- Accurate shipping/tracking information for the customer
- Free, fast shipping for online orders
Merchants need integration of their systems and processes to achieve this type of customer experience.
What to Do Next
Your multichannel selling strategy should focus on creating exceptional experiences for your customers. It’s crucial your strategy includes choosing the right sales channels, picking the right systems, integration and eventually advanced multichannel capabilities.
Delivering a multichannel experience is no easy feat for any seller. It takes time and investment in the right areas.
Use these guides to help you grow your multichannel business.