Following the release of this Brightpearl infographic about multichannel sales, we got to thinking, ‘what’s really at the heart of a good multichannel strategy?’ here are our findings…
Modern shoppers are not like they used to be. Once upon a time a potential customer would walk into your bricks and mortar store, find the product they want to purchase and then… well, they’d purchase it – how simple. Now though, information is everything (and everywhere), the market is fragmented and customers have the power to view the same product or similar products from various retailers in minutes. Not only this, they have access to reviews and testimonials for all manner of products and the people selling them.
Then there’s modern shops, they’re not the same either. That bricks and mortar store is now just one of a multitude of sales channels. Not only do you have to think about a neat, well presented shop but make sure your digital ducks are in order too. Do you have an online marketing strategy? Does your website need updating? Are you selling on Amazon? Should you be? Frightening (yet empowering) stuff.
The number of channels for you to sell on are growing by the day. In a recent survey by webretailer.com we can see an interesting factor in the data. Sellers were surveyed on which marketplaces they were looking to expand into. The fact that seven options were given shows to some level the diversity of the modern marketplace but perhaps most interestingly the option labelled ‘Other’ came in second with 30.9%, showing further still just how many channels and platforms are opening up. It’s down to you to ensure you’re picking relevant channels for your customers – Etsy for example is an online marketplace for handmade goods and is not the place to sell a car. A few carefully selected channels will in most cases be a better practice than exhausting every avenue.
The Importance of Synergy
You’ve selected multiple channels that are right for your business and you’re utilizing as many relevant online platforms as possible. Which is great and could bring you much success, however it could also be having a negative effect if your brand doesn’t have a clear and recognizable identity across all platforms. Your website is the reference point for any research savvy customer. If your brand looks different on ebay (for example) to what it does on your site, this could negatively affect the trust levels of the customer. In terms of online brand authority, your website will always be king so it’s important to have a well-designed, brand conscious website and use this as the template for any other channels you choose to adopt.
It’s important to remember that a brand is more than just a logo, your tone, use of images and colours, even the way you interact with customers; needs to be consistent across all channels. Your brand communicates what you do, what you stand for and it’s what sets you apart, so visitors need to recognize and trust a brand on whichever platform they’re viewing it.
A brand is more than just a logo, your tone, use of images and colours, even the way you interact with customers; needs to be consistent across all channels.
Modern Shopping Habits
As mentioned above, the modern shopper is a completely different animal to what they were in times gone by, this is partly down to the rise of easily accessible information. Making comparisons is quicker and easier than ever before. One thing that hasn’t changed is the concept that the act of purchasing is still an emotional one. As shoppers we’re inclined to view the website of a business before buying from them (even when it’s not necessary) and we’re likely to do this for multiple reasons…
- To see if they have a similar item cheaper or any special offers on the product we’re looking for – websites tend to be kept up to date better than other channels (though this is a cardinal sin).
- Websites will often have more reviews of the actual business we’re buying from, whereas other channels – such as Amazon, will focus more on the product.
- We may want to see if the business has any expertise on what we’re buying. If buying a guitar for example; will it come fully set up? Will the tone be suited to what we want etc. Or are they using copy and paste from a manufacturer site… another cardinal sin.
Because of the wealth of options, consumers are able to quickly discard a purchase and move on without the fear of not finding the same item at a similar price. It’s down to your site (which dictates your other channels) to ensure you don’t give them any reason to.
Your website is your flagship online presence and the heart of your multi-channel strategy. A reference point for your business and the key to garnering trust and demonstrating capability.
It’s vital to have synergy across all of your channels and best practice is to start with a beautiful, well designed, functional website and use this as the template for all other platforms. This helps develop your brand and enables customers to buy with confidence.