Multichannel selling in e-commerce is simple to understand but tricky to master. In short, multichannel selling is the use of multiple venues to bring products to customers. In the old days, this meant brick-and-mortar stores plus mail order catalogs. Now, it includes online stores, public marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, etc.), shopping-comparison sites, and so on. Despite this evolution, the ultimate goal and benefit of a multichannel selling approach has remained unchanged: attracting more customers and bringing your products to people who wouldn’t otherwise be reached by conventional approaches.
The Challenges of Multichannel e-Commerce Selling
A multichannel approach can have impressive benefits, but they also come with a few operational difficulties that need to be accounted for. When engaging in any multichannel endeavor, be aware of the following needs your business must be able to adapt to.
Every additional channel you sell through means another set of inventory that has to be managed. Being able to sell across multiple channels won’t do you much good if you can’t actually meet all those orders after all. Fortunately, inventory management software now takes multichannel selling into account, and you can find software packages that are able to give the integration you need. At the most basic level, this would allow you a single platform from which you can monitor the inventories of multiple channels. At the most advanced, it can let you coordinate stock, tap other channels to help out the inventories of other streams, and give customers the transparency needed to see where you have a product available if a current option is sold out.
These three are all intertwined. Being able to quickly and accurately fill orders requires a level of flexibility and scalability in your logistics that will come into play when adjusting for seasonal shifts in demand. The key to overcoming this challenge is to focus on developing and refining an adjustable fulfillment strategy that can direct activity where it is needed most. Streamlining processes, managing employee levels and directives, and staying on top of your logistics management are all integral to this succeeding.
Shipping and Returns
Shipping costs can quickly get out of hand in a multichannel model, especially if returns are also featured. There are a few different ways you can approach this challenge, and the ones that work best will depend on your unique situation. For returns, requiring a customer to bring the product in to your brick-and-mortar location can help limit costs, as can using a click-and-pick-up model rather than a click-and-deliver approach. Creating threshold values for shipping or returns can help ensure that, if you are paying shipping, you are doing so for maximum returns.
Every e-commerce channel you use is capable of providing you with data on sales, returns, customer trends, product shifts, and more. As you start selling through more channels, the flow of information can swell dramatically to the point where it’s harder to keep track and find broader patterns. It’s essential to be able to maintain a big-picture view on your operations as well as channel-specific analysis. Take advantage of dashboard software so you can collect and synthesize your data through a single platform, allowing for one-stop parsing of both the macro and the micro.
Look to APS for Multichannel e-Commerce
APS Fulfillment Inc. is a leading order fulfillment service company that operates out of Miami, Florida. Our integrative and careful approach will ensure that our clients’ products will get to their destination quickly and in top condition. We’ve stored, sorted, delivered, and quality-assured products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies across a wide variety of industries. Contact us by phone at 954-582-7450 or reach out to us by email at [email protected] for more ways our fulfillment services can support your e-commerce business.