Introduction to Multichannel eCommerce (+ Top Solutions)
Wondering if a multichannel approach could help you increase sales in 2023? Wonder no more, your hunch is correct: multichannel eCommerce will help you reach those goals.
It does so by selling to your customers where they already are instead of trying to get them to your one sales channel. Furthermore, sales also increase because you’re actively meeting their expectations.
We’re at the end of 2022, and every business is making plans and strategies that would help them take over the world (or increase sales and revenue, at least).
According to Harvard Business Review, 73% of consumers prefer shopping via multiple channels. To build on this, they have proven that customers purchase more for each additional channel they purchase from. In fact, omnichannel customers spend 10% more online and 4% more in-store than those using a single channel.
That being said, managing a multichannel eCommerce business is anything but simple. To launch, host, and manage your tailor-made frontends in the channels of your choice, you’ll definitely need a multi-channel eCommerce solution - and we’ll list out the top solutions for you as well.
But first, let’s go through some of the basics.
Think of almost any online store from fifteen years ago. That was single-channel eCommerce.
Multichannel eCommerce is when businesses use more than one sales channel to sell their products and reach a wider audience.
While your eCommerce website would likely remain your main sales hub, you would connect it to external sales platforms. These platforms could include anything from marketplaces such as Amazon or Walmart, social media sites such as Instagram or Facebook, third-party retailer websites, and even physical stores.
The main benefit of multichannel eCommerce? Catering to the behavior and expectations of today’s customers in order to sell more. Today, customers interact with your business on various occasions before purchasing.
97% of your website visitors are actually expected to leave without making a purchase. You can try to get them to come back to your website, but wouldn’t it be so much easier to meet them where they already choose to spend time?
That’s where multichannel eCommerce shines.
You (probably) have already invested in building your brand presence on numerous occasions. But it’s important to note that multichannel eCommerce is one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve this.
As mentioned above, you’ll be interacting with your brand visitors on platforms of their choice. The more they see you, the more credibility your brand will gain and the more likely the sale will become.
But not only that. Your presence on numerous different platforms will also result in a higher number of new leads that wouldn't have otherwise come by your brand.
More channels = more sales potential. This has been proven in practice on many occasions!
In 2020, marketers that used three or more sales channels in any one campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate than those using a single-channel campaign.
Once again, this all boils down to the user experience. It’s much easier for customers to buy on the platform they’re already on instead of having to visit your website, input their payment details, create accounts, etc.
Note that the solution you choose for your multichannel eCommerce store will most likely depend on the integration capability with the specific channels you plan to use and your dev team proficiency. Because there are so many platforms to choose from today, one solution that integrates with them all simply doesn’t exist.
Having said that, we’ve prepared a list of the top multichannel eCommerce solutions today.
Brightpearl is one of the most popular multichannel eCommerce platforms out there, and with good reason: it covers just about everything you’d need, including inventory management, order management, warehousing, fulfillment, shipping, purchasing, accounting, retail BI, and more.
BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, eBay, Amazon, and Walmart are just some of the eCommerce channels that seamlessly integrate with Brightpearl.
Keep in mind that it is on the pricier side, so it may not be the best solution for anyone that’s just starting out.
Zentail is another one of the most popular multichannel eCommerce solutions that are great for businesses that are just starting their multichannel journey.
It is best known for its SMART types, an automation technology that makes listing a single SKU or an entire product catalog possible in one click. Better yet, if any marketplace adds new requirements, SMART types automatically update your data to fit them.
It lets you seamlessly list your products on a variety of eCommerce platforms, including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook, and more.
One of the biggest names in eCommerce, BigCommerce offers a set of basic multichannel features -- which are especially attractive if you already use BigCommerce for your website.
You get integrations with Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, and other channels, including offline sources, to ensure your sync your sales data, inventory, and revenue.
However, if you’re looking at more advanced multichannel solutions, you may be better off with other third-party solutions (some of which can integrate directly with BigCommerce).
One of the best starter solutions, Sellbrite, is a fantastic solution for SMBs. It even comes with a free plan!
That being said, it is easy to outgrow and does not offer as many options as other options designed for bigger businesses, so it will require careful planning.
If you have a Shopify store, it’s important to note that Sellbrite comes with Shopify-specific plans that allow you to use the platform as an extension of your Shopify store.
It makes sense that perhaps the most popular eCommerce platform in the world would also have a multichannel platform as part of its Shopify Plus plans.
If you already host your eCommerce store on Shopify, this solution would make perfect sense for you. It lets you directly integrate with Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and more platforms, as well as physical stores. For any other channel, they offer APIs.
While originally not envisioned as a multichannel platform, it’s become a real contender in the market today.
With Shopify Plus, we’ve opened the door (kind of) to new tools and solutions relying on headless architecture. The central premise, and the benefit of the headless approach, is the decoupling of the frontend presentation and backend functionalities.
In practice, that means you have a single source of truth, i.e., the backend that stores all the data you need (product and/or marketing data), which allows you to use whichever frontend you like in whichever fashion you want. This solution gave birth to modern headless commerce solutions like (already linked) Crystallize, Commerce Layer, or Swell, among others.
Multichannel commerce is all about showcasing your product/service where your customers are. It is not a question of where you should or should adopt multichannel eCommerce. The question is why you haven’t been doing it already.
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