January 18, 2023
Running a multichannel retail strategy is a juggling act. Honestly, running a single eCommerce site and a brick-and-mortar store is daunting enough, but when you begin tossing in social commerce, marketplaces, and more, it’s downright overwhelming.
A multichannel strategy is simply offering your products on more than one platform (either in-person or online). A successful multichannel strategy can lead to increased brand awareness, higher sales, and more money in your pocket.
However, the more channels you introduce, the harder it is to keep everything in line. Many brands venturing into multi-channel retail run into at least one hiccup, and they’re often one of five issues.
Let’s break down the top five red flags you might see as you establish your multi-channel presence and what you can do to fix the problem.
If you’re only selling your products on your website, keeping your company’s branding and messaging consistent is relatively easy. But the moment you begin introducing more channels like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, things get a bit more complicated. Each channel will have unique requirements and nuances, and if one isn’t performing as well as another, you might be tempted to put updating it on the backburner.
But here’s the thing: when you’re presenting your products and brand to new audiences, you want to make sure they form the same impression about your brand whether they’re shopping on your website or Amazon or somewhere else.
If your branding and messaging are inconsistent across your platforms, you risk losing out on sales, and it’ll be significantly harder to build brand awareness.
Take LeSportsac, the lifestyle brand. They expanded to a multi-channel approach and consistently market their brand and products across their in-person stores, online shops, and multiple marketplaces. As a result, they experienced a 20% increase in average order value and a 7% conversion rate increase.
Spotting inconsistent messaging and branding is relatively easy, but it can be time-consuming. If you have a computer that enables a split-screen display or a tablet you can set up next to your computer, it’ll make it easy to compare without having to click back and forth between tabs.
On one screen or tab, you’ll pull up the product page on your primary site. This will likely be your brand’s website. On the other, you’ll pull up your brand’s page on another channel. Scroll through your product pages simultaneously to check for discrepancies in word choice, images, specs, etc. If everything matches, then you’re on the right track. If there are any differences, you’ll need to make updates.
The good news is that Shopify makes this problem really easy to solve. Instead of creating separate brand accounts for every channel you want to sell your products on, you’ll sell on different channels through Shopify.
Especially if one of your channels is a brick-and-mortar store (or even a pop-up), then inventory management becomes infinitely more difficult. If a customer buys something online and you just sold the last one in your store, you have to make an embarrassing call or email.
Even if you’re selling across a couple of online channels, it’ll be harder to track your inventory numbers if your shops aren’t integrated.
Even if you have one experience where a customer buys something on one channel that you already sold via another, you need to make a change.
The easiest way to take care of this issue is to integrate your channels. This way, all of your inventory numbers will line up so that you know what you have available. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can use Shopify’s POS app, credit card reader, and other Shopify-enabled retail hardware
Attracting and retaining customers is a lot like dating in the sense that one bad experience is likely to throw off the entire vibe.
One of the trickiest things about eCommerce is giving your customer the same kind of experience that they’d get if they were shopping in your store. When you’re selling your products in third-party marketplaces, providing your customers with a supportive, nurturing relationship is more challenging.
If your customers have a great experience with your brand on your personal site, but they have a terrible experience with your brand on Etsy, you may lose a customer. Since the last thing we want is to lose customers, the goal is to provide consistently excellent customer support across all channels.
Spotting this red flag is more challenging because you probably won’t realize something went wrong until you get hit with a negative review about how your brand was super unhelpful on X platform. If you’re getting a fair amount of feedback about one channel, in particular, your brand messaging is likely off.
If you want to proactively check that your customer service is the same across the board, you can run a focus group or case study to see the effect your platforms have on your target customers.
Keeping your customers happy keeps you in business. Solving support and experience problems often starts with your internal team to ensure everyone’s on the same page about customer interactions.
If there seems to be a hangup with the customer experience somewhere, it can be helpful to map out your customers’ journey from discovery to delivery so you know where you can bolster their experience. You can also take advantage of Shopify’s automation tools and extensions to offer customer support even if you don’t have the staff members available to monitor the site.
Look at Leesa, the mattress company. They provide a seamless customer experience across multiple platforms and use multi-channel advertising to stay at the forefront of their customers’ minds. They’re selling luxury, and you feel that through the white-glove service they offer customers on every channel.
When in doubt, listen to what your customers are saying. You’re always going to get a few people angrily ranting on the internet. But the best way to ensure you’re giving them the kind of experience they want to have with your brand is to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then you can turn the bad and ugly into good and good into extraordinary.
In the same vein as managing your inventory, one of the biggest issues that brands run into with multi-channel retail is handling shipping and returns across multiple platforms. If you’re selling your products through a Facebook/Instagram shop and a customer has a negative experience with shipping, they won’t blame Meta. They’ll hurl complaints at you, and if they hurl those complaints on a public forum, it could damage your brand’s reputation.
If you get frequent messages from customers saying that they bought or returned something and still haven’t received the product or heard anything from you, then you have a transit issue on your hands. Additionally, keep an eye out for reviews or comments mentioning negative shipping and returns experiences and figure out where the disconnect is between purchase and delivery.
Solving transit issues begins with knowing how your products get from Point A to Point B. You typically have three options for fulfillment: self-fulfillment (you ship or accept items yourself), third-party logistics (someone else ships or accepts your items), and dropshipping (the supplier/manufacturer ships or accepts your items). Depending on your product catalog, you may want to employ multiple methods.
To streamline your fulfillment options and methods across your channels, you can use Shopify to note where specific items will be stocked so you know where they need to be shipped to and from.
You’re already running a business, so it’s safe to say that you’ve got your hands full. Although a multi-channel retail strategy comes with numerous benefits, if you spread yourself too thin, you run the risk of internally combusting.
It’s much better to choose a few channels that you can manage with ease instead of trying to put your brand up on every single channel available. While having your products in more places is good in theory because it expands your brand’s presence, providing a phenomenal customer experience on fewer channels will help you develop customer loyalty and repeat sales.
Look at Gymshark. The athleisure brand has skyrocketed to a company value of $1.3 billion, and nearly half of its revenue comes from repeat customers. Instead of selling their products on every channel under the sun, they use a multi-channel marketing strategy to drive traffic to their website, where they know they can provide an incredible customer experience. You can only buy their products on their website or at a pop-up store, and they’re still incredibly successful.
You’ll know when you’re spread too thin when you start noticing the other four issues mentioned in this guide popping up repeatedly. Or, if you feel like you’re dropping the ball on one or more of your platforms, it’s time to call a team meeting.
You have a few options here, and it will primarily depend on your budget.
- Option 1: Reel things in a bit and stop selling your products on one or more channel(s). When culling the herd, examine which channel is bringing in the least revenue and which channel doesn’t have a high volume of people in your target audience.
- Option 2: Hire another person or two to your internal staff and have them manage your different channels to ensure they match your primary website.
- Option 3: Partner with a third-party product management platform to use Shopify to its full advantage while you keep doing what you do best: running an amazing business.
At Channable, we’re dedicated to making your life easier. We understand that you’ve got a million things to do, and running multiple online stores is not the kind of cherry on top that you’re looking for with your busy schedule. That’s where we can help.
We offer a seamless way to manage your products and ads based on your inventory in real-time. Channable has a built-in Shopify plugin that allows you to integrate your Shopify feed with Channable in just a few clicks. Then, we can help you promote your Shopify feed across over 2,500+ price comparison websites, affiliate networks, and marketplaces.
Additionally, you can use our intuitive rules to optimize, enrich, and filter product information to help potential customers discover your brand and keep your messaging consistent across multiple platforms. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about a rogue Google ad showcasing a product that’s sold out when you use Channable.
Last but not least, the platform comes with free technical support to help you whenever you need it, whether it’s about our platform, Shopify, or any of your connections.
Running an effective multichannel strategy doesn’t have to be hard. You can grow your brand without having to worry about semantics. With us, it’s green flags all the way.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for Channable today and start your free trial today.
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