Is multi-channel selling now essential for all online businesses?

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by Bluepark, Jul 9, 2015.

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Is multi-channel selling now essential for all online businesses?

  1. Yes, we couldn't survive without it

    42 vote(s)
    77.8%
  2. No, we do just fine selling on our website

    12 vote(s)
    22.2%
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  1. Bluepark

    Bluepark UKBF Contributor Full Member

    50 11
    As an ecommerce provider to thousands of small to medium businesses, we hear a lot about multi-channel selling on different platforms.

    Online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon continue to grow in popularity with consumers and many online businesses are utilising these platforms as a way to reach customers who may not have seen their products otherwise.

    Our own eBay integration is one of the most popular features we've ever released, but we've also heard a great deal of feedback regarding aggressive competition, high fees and squeezed margins.

    Is multi-channel now an essential part of ecommerce? Can an online business survive just by selling on their own site anymore? On the other hand, is multi-channel selling profitable enough in the long term?
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2015 By: Bluepark Member since: Feb 9, 2012
    #1
  2. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    31,072 9,129
    It depends.

    If you sell your book on Amazon then you may not need any other channel.
    If you sell knitted hats on Etsy then that may be all you need.
    If you sell nuts and bolts wholesale then you may only need your website.

    So some might need multi-channel and some may not.
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2015 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #2
  3. Parcelhub

    Parcelhub UKBF Regular Free Member

    234 18
    You'd be mad not to give each channel a try. Our clients sell vastly more on Amazon than on eBay, but nearly all sell on multiple channels.
     
    Posted: Jul 9, 2015 By: Parcelhub Member since: Feb 9, 2015
    #3
  4. Matt Thorpe

    Matt Thorpe UKBF Contributor Free Member

    94 30
    I think it depends on the company / brand. Marketplaces are for every company.

    There is a lot of noise out there with thousands of cool little companies springing up out of nowhere. Competition to get on the first page of Google is tough and even the big boys are struggling with high quality content on their sites because they are not as agile or creative.

    I work with a lot of fashion companies (some premium labels) and they don't see eBay or Amazon as part of their strategy because it's not 'on brand'. They rely of retail distribution or being aggressive with social marketing to try to get the word out. I also work closely with them to maximise the relationships with their existing customers by understanding them and engaging with them on a more personal basis. This certainly improves customer loyalty.

    Whilst Amazon and eBay are not necessarily the place for premium brands, you can't argue with the sheer volume of visitor traffic and the number of sales you get. It obviously comes down to the strategy of each individual business. However, protecting your brand is one thing but, if you don't have the budget to market and PR your brand, you may struggle to get anywhere. It's a bit of a trade off.

    Saying that, I have seen some premium brands use the platforms to sell a lower price product (more entry level) which has been manufactured specifically for that purpose. This helps them to reach the huge audience, drive volume at good margin but still enables them to maintain their premium positioning for their core range.
     
    Posted: Jul 10, 2015 By: Matt Thorpe Member since: Apr 13, 2015
    #4
  5. Groggy

    Groggy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    14 2
    We would love to go multi-channel, but simply can't afford the fees applied at our current margins!
     
    Posted: Jul 10, 2015 By: Groggy Member since: Jun 26, 2015
    #5
  6. Abe Choi

    Abe Choi UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 9
    I think that many merchants would give multichannel selling a go. However, given there isn't any software that really makes it painless to do all things that are required operationally (listing, inventory, shipping, forecasting, customer service, etc). The investment of time is too great for the marginal returns. Your problems become exponential as you increase channels as oppose to staying moderately linear in a single one.

    I know that I'm leaving money on the table but I also know that it would cost me more upfront and ongoing to continue certain channels. The only way I would test / use other channels would be leverage software that does all the "gluing" for me. I think we're still in relatively early days of ecommerce and selling multichannel will become more efficient for all. We're just not there yet.
     
    Posted: Jul 10, 2015 By: Abe Choi Member since: Jul 7, 2015
    #6
  7. bharris

    bharris UKBF Regular Free Member

    543 82
    That's why we don't sell on anything other than our website. I have also currently stopped google ads and its made no difference, in fact we have had a better moth than we normally do for June/July. Just because everyone else does it, it might not be the correct thing to do for you.
     
    Posted: Jul 11, 2015 By: bharris Member since: Dec 30, 2014
    #7
  8. crelers

    crelers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    4 0
    I think it's the only way to survive as a business
     
    Posted: Jul 11, 2015 By: crelers Member since: Dec 14, 2012
    #8
  9. Tech4Homes

    Tech4Homes UKBF Regular Full Member

    462 64
    I hate eBay if I'm honest, it's not what it used to be, when I did like it.

    However I do sell on eBay.

    The way I see it, is there are two types of customer, those that go straight to google and those that go straight to eBay.

    I list most of my items on eBay and pick up sales from the latter customer. I pay high fees, but I feel that if I didn't list it on eBay then I wouldn't have had the sale anyway. I don't intend to make eBay my primary source of sales, I just list there to pick up buyers who wouldn't buy otherwise.

    I don't get into price wars, I don't expect to sell thousands when there are cheaper crappier versions on there.

    It used to be a bit of a ballache, however now I've moved my sites to Magento, consolidated them and linked all of my products to eBay and Amazon via M2E Pro I now get orders seamlessly, without worrying about actually working on eBay or Amazon too much.

    So yes, software is key, I think most people will happily list to eBay if it's a seamless, easy process with orders being processed as per any other order through the website.
     
    Posted: Jul 12, 2015 By: Tech4Homes Member since: Sep 30, 2012
    #9
  10. Martina Wade

    Martina Wade UKBF Contributor Free Member

    33 8
    Multi-channel is not essential - but it does make sense that you and your brand try to be where your customers are. And not trying out different channels would be a missed opportunity in my opinion - you won't know if it works until yo've tried it. Then you may find it is not worth it for you - or you may find a new unexpected source of business.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2015 By: Martina Wade Member since: Jan 16, 2015
    #10
  11. Abe Choi

    Abe Choi UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 9
    @Tech4Homes how do you like M2E Pro? What were the main pains you were trying to solve? I hear M2E can be quite involved, so you must be reasonable technical or at least have been around the block to guide yourself.

    I've been thinking about M2E but just havent made the switch as I'm not sure what my sales would look like on ebay.
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2015 By: Abe Choi Member since: Jul 7, 2015
    #11
  12. Pish_Pash

    Pish_Pash UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,413 621
    For me multi channel is essential ...it's kept me afloat, while I go for bigger customers.

    Ebay on it's own got me started, but if I hadn't have also started selling on Amazon, then ebay would have not kept a roof over our heads alone...& I'd have long stacked my hand (Amazon now eclipses ebay by some margin). I have a website, but it only accounts for about 5% of my annual turnover...& frankly, I can't compete in traffic terms without lining Google's & Bing's pockets...that path is just not for me.

    So multi channel all the way here...sure it's not easy (but that's a good thing - else everyone would be doing it)
     
    Posted: Jul 13, 2015 By: Pish_Pash Member since: Feb 1, 2013
    #12
  13. AndyMorley

    AndyMorley UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    23 6
    Ummm it would depend on the products you are selling in my opinion. The Amazon and Ebay fees kill it for certain products, so multi-channel isn't possible cause the margin in certain products isn't there, but if you can find a product range who's margins can swallow up these fees then absolutely you should be using multi-channel eCommerce.
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2015 By: AndyMorley Member since: Nov 2, 2011
    #13
  14. leshka_uk

    leshka_uk UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    12 1
    You could get Magento+M2E Pro hosting bundle from simpleservers.co.uk and then DIY using understandinge.com or contact m2epro directly to see if they can migrate you..
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2015 By: leshka_uk Member since: Sep 9, 2014
    #14
  15. Seanna Holland

    Seanna Holland UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    7 1
    I agree that it is dependent on what you are selling, it may also be great to use ebay or amazon to gain a presence and then build your own business off the back of that by diverting repeat business directly to your own website.
     
    Posted: Jul 14, 2015 By: Seanna Holland Member since: Jul 14, 2015
    #15
  16. Steve Alphabet

    Steve Alphabet UKBF Regular Free Member

    190 48
    Whichever channel, it's incredibly important to store your customers' email addresses, and keep in touch now and again. That way if eBay/Amazon or whoever else decide to change their T&Cs, kick you off their platform, or even go bust, you still have all your own customer database. Relying on someone else's platform to build up your own business is always risky...
     
    Posted: Jul 15, 2015 By: Steve Alphabet Member since: Apr 3, 2015
    #16
  17. antropy

    antropy OpenCart Experts Full Member - Verified Business

    3,439 588
    From all accounts it's extremely competitive. Gone are the days when you could buy small amount of product at a slight discount and expect it to sell on eBay. Now most start-ups will struggle to find a product niche where the margins between what they can buy and sell for are big enough to be worth selling.
     
    Posted: Jul 15, 2015 By: antropy Member since: Aug 2, 2010
    #17
  18. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    31,072 9,129
    How are you going to do this? When I buy from Ebay or Amazon I do not give you permission to contact me ever again. If you are collecting my email address for marketing purposes you are breaking the T&C of the sales platform.
     
    Posted: Jul 15, 2015 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #18
  19. Tech4Homes

    Tech4Homes UKBF Regular Full Member

    462 64
    I've built the Magento site myself (after finally deciding to move from Opencart for good), installed and set up everything myself (so far!) it's been hard work and it's taken a lot of learning but I'm now in action and currently moving my other sites to Magento as multi stores.

    I found M2E really easy to use if I'm honest. Much better than Openbay. M2E Pro + a shipping module that forwards orders to the relevant suppliers, and a sales commission module that enables my field staff to earn commission on all their orders, is the best thing I've done for my business.

    Wait for me to hit a problem with Magento that requires a rather expensive developer and I might not be so positive about it though :D
     
    Posted: Jul 15, 2015 By: Tech4Homes Member since: Sep 30, 2012
    #19
  20. Abe Choi

    Abe Choi UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 9
    Yes if you are selling on a closed channel like amazon and ebay it is very difficult to get their email address. However I've seen merchants contacting me via my physical address to reengage and market to me.

    PRO TIP: I hand write a thank you letter to my top 25 customers and this is an amazing retention tool.
     
    Posted: Jul 15, 2015 By: Abe Choi Member since: Jul 7, 2015
    #20
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