Having a single website for selling isn’t enough these days. E-commerce is a rapidly evolving sector and you have to move to ensure that you are keeping up with it. Fifteen years ago, e-commerce was just an add-on to your bricks and mortar store that allowed you to bring in a little additional income. It meant that you had two sales channels. Now, the world of shopping online has matured nicely and there have been big upheavals, particularly with eBay and Amazon entering the picture. Many customers go straight to these sites when looking for the goods that they want without searching anywhere else. So if you are an online retailer, you will want to try selling on these channels as well.
However, multi-channel selling comes with its own set of challenges.
No one likes to run out of stock. When you sell on eBay or Amazon, you are actually penalised for not being able to fulfil orders. Poor stock control can lead to you neglecting those people who have found you on your own website in favour of the two big sales platforms.
You can either reserve stock for each channel – leading to needing more stock, or you can use a central stock control system that uses stock numbers through all sales channels to update across all the platforms.
Magento is particularly good at this, when you utilise the M2E Pro extension which integrates with eBay and Amazon. The speed of the system ensures that items you sell are quickly updated across your stores.
Without a stock control solution, if you have an item for sale you would have to list it three times on each channel. However, with a central stock database such as Linnworks or M2E Pro, you can create a single entry and push it out onto each channel.
Selling through third parties costs money. Amazon charges 15% on many of its categories. This means you either have to increase the price or take a lower profit. Amazon UK goes out of their way to make sure that you are not undercutting their prices on your own site. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to make sure that you can make equal profits across the board.
If you change the price on one channel, it means you have to change them all. M2E Pro does allow for variable pricing, but that’s at your own risk!
Selling through eBay and Amazon can increase your sales. However, the customers are not yours; they are eBay’s or Amazon’s. There is no customer loyalty, with many people simply making a decision based purely on price. With eBay, you can send out your leaflets and flyers to try and capture some of the market back for yourself, but this is frowned upon by Amazon.
However, if you don’t sell via Amazon and eBay, you are missing out on a huge segment of the market. It’s a double edged sword really. By selling through these channels, you are promoting them and making it more likely that people will continue to use them, but if you don’t it can be difficult to get yourself notices in the marketplace.
Do you sell through multiple channels or do you just use your own site? Comment below.