How To Build A Profitable Multi-Channel Retailing Strategy For Your Online Store

Posted by RodneyLaws on June 10, 2019

Outperforming your ecommerce competition is about more than just having the best products, prices and/or service: it’s also about ensuring that your brand (and your items) appear in the right places at the right times. Today, that calls for a multi-channel strategy. After all, the average online shopper wants options for how they can buy — if they can see something advertised through Facebook, they should be able to buy it through Facebook.

If you’re going to maximise your profits, then, you need to build a multi-channel retailing strategy for your online store, allowing you to market and sell your products wherever people are going to be interested. But how can you do it? Let’s run through the basic method:

Locate your target customers

Multi-channel isn’t the same thing as omnichannel (appearing on all channels), and it doesn’t even need to encompass a large number of channels. For instance, you could have a multi-channel strategy focused on just three channels — that may be the most effective approach for you. The determining factor is where your target customers spend their time online, and where they’re most likely to be interested in what you’re offering.

To locate them, you’ll need to spend time on social media and community websites, carrying out searches for your target keywords and looking for mentions of your brand (you can also use a brand-monitoring tool for this, such as Social Mention). If you’re not being mentioned somewhere you’d like to be mentioned — if, for instance, you’re getting nowhere on Twitter despite having a Twitter-friendly product range — then you should revise your marketing.

Once you know where your target customers are, and where they’re looking for you, you can start figuring out how to reach them there.

Commit a sustainable budget

Every strategy needs a budget. Unless you’re using a low-tier free plan, you’ll be spending money on cross-channel tools, and then there’s all the work that goes into customer research, copywriting, and content production. You don’t get to set up a static campaign and leave it — consumer expectations change over time, so your strategy could fail very suddenly, and you need to have the resources set aside to respond.

When you choose your budget, though, make sure it’s sustainable. If you’re not good with finances, get someone to help out, or take advantage of online tools — Wave Accounting is completely free, as well as FreshBooks, so there’s no risk in trying it. If your multi-channel selling brings in a lot of profit, you can always increase it, but start out with a modest sum and get proof of ROI before scaling.

Set up the right extensions

To make your OpenCart store a fully multi-channel sales service, you’ll need to get the right extensions in place. Your options include tools like OpenBay Pro and Linnworks: here’s a useful breakdown of what each multi-channel extension brings to the table. You need to think about your specific needs: how much of the process do you need automated? Which marketplaces do you most need to reach?

Then there’s something like FacebookStore, designed solely to sell through a Facebook page. If your research shows you that Facebook is by far your richest sales opportunity, then you might want to make that your sole investment to begin with. The choice is yours — just make sure you make the best possible software choice, because it will make a big difference.

Make regular tweaks

As noted, it isn’t viable to set and abandon a static campaign. Times change, standards shift, and methods that worked yesterday might not work today. There’s more to this, though, which is that channels change. When Twitter changed its character limit, it radically changed the promotional possibilities of Twitter advertising, and everyone had to rush to adjust.

And then there’s the prospect of old channels disappearing and new channels popping up. Not often getting the promotion of other channels, Pinterest has quietly picked up a lot of momentum, and has become a powerful sales platform for certain industries (those with visually-arresting products such as items of clothing or furniture).

Consequently, your strategy needs to be flexible. At any time, you may be called upon to stop investing in one channel and start investing in another, and you need to be ready to put in that work. Otherwise, you’ll end up left behind by everyone else.

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