When a brick-and-mortar retailer considers opening a new store, that company has to weigh the significant capital and operating expenses (mortgage, construction, employees, etc.) against the new location’s potential to generate revenue.
And although the hard costs obviously aren’t as high in eCommerce, until recently online sellers had to perform their own cost-benefit analysis each time they considered expanding their reach online. Adding a new eCommerce channel meant adding complexity to inventory management, fulfillment, updating product content across channels, and other logistical operations. All of these additional responsibilities required time and money to manage.
Fortunately, today online retailers don’t have to make those difficult calculations. In fact, with the right tools and technologies in place, they can add online sales channels easily, cost-effectively, and without adding to their management and administrative obligations.
In this post we’re going to discuss a few tips for using the right technologies to develop a successful online sales strategy.
1. Centralize and Sync Your Inventory Across Sales Channels
When you start adding online channels, managing your company’s inventory becomes more difficult. And if you’re not monitoring your inventory levels closely across each of your channels, you can find your company losing business to competitors on a given marketplace because you’re out of stock. Worse, at the same time you might find your company sitting on excess inventory at another marketplace. All because those systems aren’t communicating.
The simple, affordable solution is inventory management software, which lets you automatically sync your inventory levels across all of your online channels, and quickly make needed adjustments anytime.
To cite just one example of how this can benefit your company, we’ve pointed out here at the TrackStreet blog that Amazon’s algorithm gives more prominent placement in a shopper’s product search to retailers who have the item in stock. Using a centralized inventory management system can give you a competitive advantage by helping you make sure you always have inventory on hand when a shopper is ready to buy.
2. Make Your Shipping Processes Smarter
Adding sales channels also increases shipping complexity. Not all online marketplaces have relationships with all shipping carriers. Some carriers are more reliable than others, and choosing incorrectly can affect your customers’ experience and your online reviews. And unless your team is prepared to research or ask for quotes from multiple carriers each time you receive an order, your default carrier selection might be costing you more than necessary.
Fortunately, a new industry of shipping software platforms has emerged, and these solutions can help you scale your operations more easily, ship more reliably, and save money.
The best of these shipping software solutions have hundreds of carriers in their network, so you’ll always have a wide range of options. These applications can also automatically present your order to multiple carriers and then deliver you the best rates based on your requirements. Or, if you have negotiated rates with certain shippers, the system can manage those as well.
Rolling out the right shipping-management software platform can help you build a online sales strategy while keeping your fulfillment operations cost-effective and running smoothly.
3. Protect and Grow Your Brand Online
Adding more online sales channels also means creating more exposure of your brand to consumers—which can be both beneficial and risky. Beneficial, because you’ll be expanding your reach into new markets, introducing your company to new customers, and adding to your revenue. Risky, because with each new sales channel comes the potential for poor customer experiences, which brings with it the potential to weaken your brand’s reputation.
To safeguard your growing online sales strategy, you’ll also want a software platform to help you protect your brand.
The right solution will give you built-in tools to help with both brand protection and brand growth. For example:
- Sales intelligence
Monitor your products’ pricing across the entire digital landscape—both from your company and your competitors—and compare pricing across marketplaces. This can help you make quick adjustments to your selling strategy when necessary.
- Review tracking
Keep track of all star ratings, customer reviews, and other feedback your company is receiving across all online sales channels so you can address problems immediately and maintain a positive reputation with your market.
- Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy monitoring
Protect your company from being unfairly undercut by rogue sellers.
If your suppliers have MAP policies, these solutions can monitor the internet at all times for you, looking for competitors who might be violating your suppliers’ policies and underselling you. The software will alert you to these violations as soon as they’re published, 24/7, so you can alert your suppliers and even give them the documented evidence they need to take appropriate action against the offenders.
Want information about online brand protection? Contact a TrackStreet solution architect.