Today’s fast-paced business world forces companies to look for ways to improve their sales and grow their customer base constantly — all while working to remain competitive in an ever-growing industry. One of the most effective ways to do this is through multi-channel selling.
Multi-channel selling is the practice of selling products or services through multiple channels, such as online marketplaces, social media platforms, and a company’s own website. For eCommerce professionals, multi-channel selling allows them to reach a wider audience and increase sales by leveraging the advantages of different platforms.
One of the key benefits of this approach is the diversification of revenue streams: Selling on multiple platforms helps merchants reduce the risk of relying on a single source of income. For example, if an eCommerce business only sells on its website and it experiences technical difficulties, the business could lose a significant amount of revenue. However, if they also sell on other platforms, the business can still generate profit even if the main website goes down.
This approach also reaches a wider audience. Online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy have millions of active users, providing eCommerce brands with a large potential customer base. Additionally, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow businesses to connect with customers through targeted advertising and social media marketing.
As mentioned above, taking a multi-channel approach to your sales unlocks new audiences. If you’ve previously sold through your own website and a brick-and-mortar location, adding a large marketplace to the mix will bring you hundreds of thousands of new potential customers almost instantly. Amazon is an especially rich source of leads since, according to Insider Intelligence, 61% of U.S. shoppers start their product search on the platform.
With each channel you add, you increase your brand awareness to drive sales. You also tap into new customer segments, such as those who prefer to buy through social media or shop multiple brands at once in a marketplace setting. The revenue from each channel thus contributes to your business’s overall growth.
By launching several channels, you’re able to meet your customers where they are as well. You can track your target audience throughout their buying journey in each channel and enhance customer segmentation for better targeting down the road.
Multi-channel inventory management involves monitoring your company’s stock levels, tracking sales and orders, and ensuring that products are in stock and available for purchase across your various channels.
Managing inventory can be challenging, and every additional sales channel increases that complexity exponentially. This makes effective inventory management critical to multi-channel success. A solid inventory management and tracking system can ensure you have enough inventory to meet customer demand while also lowering the risk of stockouts or overstocking. Additionally, effective inventory management can reduce operations costs by minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency.
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date information about the products you have in stock helps you make informed decisions about restocking, pricing, and even promotions. It also avoids stockouts, which can lead to lost sales or, worse, lost customers.
If a customer orders a product that’s out of stock, it can lead to lost sales and damage your reputation. Worse, if this occurs frequently, customers will simply go elsewhere. With accurate inventory information, you can quickly identify which products are running low and restock them before they sell out.
You also gain a clear understanding of which products sell well and which don’t. Based on this information, you can then adjust your purchasing and marketing strategies. For example, if you notice a particular product is selling quickly, you may want to order more of it or increase its price. Conversely, if a product moves slowly, you might choose to reduce its price, add it to bundles to get rid of that stock, or simply discontinue it altogether.
In addition to helping you make better decisions about your products, inventory tracking also improves your cash flow management. When you know exactly how much inventory you have and how fast it sells, you can better predict when you’ll need to restock and how much money you’ll need to do so. This allows you to plan ahead and avoid unexpected (or unnecessary) expenses, as well as having too much stock of a slow-moving item due to premature ordering.
Inventory tracking typically employs inventory management software. These systems allow you to track your stock levels in real-time, generate reports, and even set up alerts for when your stock levels drop below a certain threshold. As a result, you’ll stay on top of your inventory and ensure you have the products your customers want in stock.
The market is flooded with multifarious inventory management software. However, the most important functionality to look for is the ability to update in real-time (or as close to real-time as possible). This allows you to remain up to date on your stock levels at all times.
The MyFBAPrep Inventory Tracker tool allows you to track your inventory across multiple channels without the hassle of manually updating everything.
Simply enter the date on which you performed an inventory check and mark the product check complete when finished. Then, enter how frequently you run checks to see when to do it again. In the Products Overview section, you’ll see the number of items in your inventory, their total value, and any items that need to be restocked.
Each time you perform an inventory check, reset the date and checkboxes and repeat the steps above. You can quickly run your inventory reports in your inventory management software and plug those numbers into the tool to gain a bird’s-eye view of your overall inventory with ease.
To manage inventory across multiple channels effectively, it’s important to follow best practices, which we’ve outlined below.
A key action when tracking your inventory is to conduct regular inventory audits. An inventory audit is a comprehensive review of your current inventory levels, including the quantity and condition of products, as well as the accuracy of your inventory records. Conducting these regularly will help you identify any discrepancies or errors in your inventory records and verify that your inventory levels are accurate and up to date.
Sales forecasting involves predicting future sales based on past sales data and market trends. This ensures you have the right amount of inventory on hand to meet customer demand. As such, forecasting helps you avoid stockouts and be able to accommodate customer needs in a timely manner.
ABC analysis is a method of classifying items into three categories (A, B, and C) based on their importance to a business. Items in category A are considered the most important and should be closely monitored and managed, while items in category C are deemed the least important and need less attention. Categorizing products will help you prioritize your inventory management efforts and focus on the items that are most important to your business.
It’s important to maintain minimum levels of inventory to avoid stockouts. Stockouts occur when a business runs out of a product and is unable to fulfill customer orders. By holding a base amount of inventory, you can ensure you always have enough stock on hand to meet customer demand.
A helpful strategy for intelligent inventory management is the first in first out (FIFO) method. This approach ensures the oldest products are sold first to avoid expiration. It also reduces waste and ensures customers receive only fresh products.
Multi-channel selling is a powerful strategy for eCommerce professionals, as it diversifies revenue streams and reaches a wider audience. However, managing multiple sales channels can be time-consuming and requires additional resources. To be successful, merchants must have a solid strategy in place and be willing to invest the time and effort required to manage several channels.
One key element is creating a robust inventory management system. This entails combining regular inventory checks with stock planning, analysis, and reliable software to gain a clear overview of your holdings and identify current and potential problems. By following the best practices we’ve outlined in this article, you can effectively track and manage your inventory and meet customer demand in a timely manner.