If you have a retail business, the ability to offer online sales and ease of purchase is essential to get ahead. As consumers have moved to embrace online shopping in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, having an eCommerce option has become crucial for any successful retail business. A recent survey by BigCommerce showcased that millennials (67%) and Gen-Xers (56%) would prefer to search for products and purchase them online rather than doing so in a physical or brick-and-mortar store.
So what is the best way to take your business online and increase sales? Or, if you already have an online presence, how can you easily, quickly, and consistently reach your target audience to raise awareness of your brand among potential customers?
This is where multichannel strategies come to the fore and can really help grow your business. These strategies are the future of e-Commerce and should be a significant part of every new and existing small business game plan. Conversely, businesses that don’t adopt online selling and offer multichannel and omnichannel strategies may soon find themselves at a disadvantage over their competitors.
Let’s clarify what we mean when discussing multichannel instead of the better publicised omnichannel strategy. Omni-channel is a strategy by which a brand owns or manages several channels. For example, let’s assume we have the “HipHop shoes” brand. In an omnichannel world, HipHop would launch a shop (brick and mortar), a website (www.hiphop.com), a mobile app and a social media presence (www.facebook.com/hiphop), all with the same underlying data store and customer record. This lets them interact with the customer in the way the customer chooses and can seamlessly transition between these channels.
Multichannel is about pushing your products not just through your channels but also through unaffiliated channels. This is analogous to HipHop selling its shoes in the HipHop store as well as at Foot Locker.
So why would you want to embrace and use both approaches in your e-commerce strategy?
Well, it’s really about satisfying two distinct needs. First, omnichannel is all about customer engagement, retention and re-targeting. This is achieved by providing users with multiple options to interact with your brand. Multichannel is about attracting new customers and driving your brand into untapped markets.
One way for small businesses to quickly adopt omnichannel and multichannel is to sell their products or services on online marketplaces. By taking advantage of existing markets and successful companies, businesses can get a leg up on the competition while saving time and expenses. For example, if you are an Australian rural small business, you could create an online store on Spend With Us.
The marketplace has a ready and waiting audience and community of over 365,000 members looking to purchase products from Australian rural and regional small businesses. Another example is if you have a computer parts business, you could create a profile on Newegg, a marketplace platform for IT computer components, and access their user base of customers looking to find those types of products.
The benefits of using a marketplace to sell your products are plenty. Marketplaces can provide both an omnichannel and multichannel outlet to help you get new customers, raise brand awareness, and increase sales. By selling on a marketplace, your business also benefits from all its included marketing and brand-building expenses. People trust the marketplace, so they will automatically also trust you. Selling on a marketplace will also take care of most of the tech and marketing costs and tasks involved with selling online; design, hosting, processing of orders, financial transactions, advertising, marketing and promotion, saving you time and money, and importantly, opening your business to new markets and audiences.
Social commerce is another way to utilise these strategies. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok provide another avenue for omnichannel organisations. Small businesses can expand their reach into previously untapped markets through digital advertisements on social media platforms and mobile apps.
Small businesses have a real opportunity to gain with social commerce, and those that aren’t participating stand to miss out on a significant revenue stream, especially when considering that:
- 73% of shoppers across markets made a purchase in-store after finding or discovering the item on social media.
- 66% of Gen Z Shoppers use social media to research a product before purchasing it.
eCommerce sales are estimated to reach nearly 24% of total retail sales by 2025. If you haven’t already, now is the time for your business to adapt to new consumer needs and behaviours, embrace online selling, and utilise strategies that will help your business to thrive in the future.
Sarah Britz is co-founder of Spend with Us.