Thursday, November 20, 2008

Multi-channel online sales

Offering products through multiple online retail channels is a great way to gain improved sales!

Why do I say this? Well you may currently be making enough money on your current branded eCommerce site to keep the boss and shareholders happy, but what are you missing out on?

Answer: An opportunity!

Lets put this another way, your customers don't always use the same online channel to:
Gain awareness, review features, understand detail, discuss their potential purchase, etc. Some use shopping comparison sites (e.g. Google Shopping, etc.) , some go direct to brand sites, some go to independent & industry-recognised reviews and others ask their friends on social networks. http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006719

Q: Doesn't that just commoditise our product?
Sure, there's the chance that cusomers just look at price, but that happens anyway. Others use multiple online sources to gain information and clarify their purchasing decision. If you are not present when they are making that decision you are missing an opportunity.

Q. How do I do this ?
Easily! Most eCommerce software/vendors allow you to take a regular product (including price, image reference and even inventory/stock) feed from your online catalogue/database. This feed (usually in XML format) can be provided to key partners or affiliates, who can easily re-format it and put it up on their site to work for you.
Note: If your eCommerce provider says this is difficult or even impossible to do this, consider reviewing their contract ASAP

Q. Doesn't this cannibalise my existing eCommerce operation?
Possibly and lets be honest about this. If you are running a successful online sales channel and you provide a feed allowing your products to be sold on other channels, then there is this risk. This can however be measured and avoided by carefully selecting your channel partners. This comes from understanding & comparing the sales made with that of your own site . It may be that these partner channels target a different demographic or catch people at an entirely different part of the product consideration process. Careful analysis is imprortant here.

Has anyone got any more questions?
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