Developing new methods of marketing your online store is one of the smartest steps you can take for your company, as it allows your brand name to reach a much wider audience.
Nevertheless, operating a multichannel web store has its fair share of challenges, one of the greatest being the ability to integrate all channels into one smooth, precise process.
Let's say you started out with your own site and then expanded to shopping portals such as eBay and Amazon in an effort to expand your customer reach. In this situation, chances are likely that your web store is not directly linked to both of these websites, meaning you have to update all your store inventories by hand whenever something sells. After all, all of your store inventories and reports must be in sync with each other in order to prevent double sells of various items.
Although this process of manually bringing your various web systems up-to-date might suffice, it certainly isn't the most time-efficient solution, and there is still the possibility of making a costly mistake. With no automatic system in place to preserve the accuracy of your orders and inventories, you might have to deal with back orders, pricing errors, and other issues that lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Company Growth Brings New Challenges
You obviously want your e-commerce store to grow, both in terms of its website traffic and its incoming revenue. But with growth comes more processes and more information to maintain, which are significant obstacles to overcome with multichannel web stores. A lot of systems cannot properly link up all the places you sell your wares. And once your business begins to take off, manually revising each of your internet sales systems and inventories will probably become completely impractical.
How to Streamline Your Multichannel Web Store
Selling goods through several different channels on the web is complicated. It’s easier to fully grasp its difficulties by sorting them into one of four primary data types, each having its own set of obstacles and possible remedies:
A substantial problem for multichannel retailers is listing items over several channels. While it’s easier to just recycle the same wording for all your listings, this can result in less-than-satisfying customer experience. Every channel has a unique audience with different needs, so your product listings ought to be customized for those variances.
Best fix: PIM (product information management) systems allow online vendors to handle all their merchandise info in one central location. Powerful PIM software can easily organize, consolidate, and export your product information to all sales streams.
Your products are displayed on all of your internet channels. Consequently, many shoppers are buying from the same inventory, regardless of where the purchase is made. If your stock quantities don't get updated after each purchase, you may easily end up overselling products, which can cause Amazon to give your store the boot.
Best fix: Multichannel sellers must have live inventory updates to make sure that stock amounts are correct in each revenue channel. This is particularly important during the holidays or bargain events where products may sell rapidly.
Many companies still use standalone systems to monitor and process their sales. If these systems lose connection, workers have to manually enter sales data into several other databases, which results in costly delays.
Best Fix: Implement a DOM (distributed order management) program that automatically processes your sales. Hand-keying data into multiple systems is too time-consuming and is vulnerable to human error.
Web shoppers count on fast, reasonably priced, and dependable shipping and delivery. With Amazon standing so high above most online shopping portals in terms of shipping speeds and prices, it’s tough for smaller companies to match them.
Best Fix: If you manually enter all your shipping data, you’re probably going to make some mistakes sooner or later, which translates into delayed or missed deliveries. Many savvy retailers either use third-party logistics services to fulfill their shipments or optimize their supply chain independently to stay on Amazon's level.
The Customer is the Key
As a multichannel internet retailer, you already know the importance of overcoming these challenges. In addition to being able to automate and integrate your systems, it is every bit as crucial to be familiar with your customers, and to know how they feel about your company and its merchandise.
In contemporary society, with social bookmarking sites and weblogs evolving into such popular resources for product details and critiques, you need to be mindful of your shopper's experience in all of your shops.
Having a solid multichannel e-commerce plan in place has a strong influence on each customer's online shopping experience. By fully synchronizing your web stores and their respective inventories, you'll have more opportunity to attend to the needs of your shoppers -- and that's how you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers who spread the word to all their friends.