For some online businesses, selling via multiple channels (taking an omni-channel approach) can seem daunting. But if done right, an omni-channel retail strategy can do wonders for your business growth. So, how do you start multi-channel selling? Our partner Webgility published the following article sharing five ways your business can become an omni-channel success.
It’s not uncommon for online retailers to have started their businesses based on a personal passion. Whether selling luxury baby blankets, soap made to look like bacon or custom-made surfboards, online business owners are fond of their product(s). Unfortunately, online retailers tend to curb their enthusiasm when they realize the herculean effort required to increase profits and go omni-channel in an industry that is complex and fiercely competitive. Most quit before seeing profits, and countless others suffer in silence under the burden of useless busywork, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We’d like to share five omni-channel strategies that will help you find success for your online business.
1. Embrace system-wide omni-channel retailing
An omni-channel selling strategy is becoming more of an ecommerce norm every day, and with it comes new and different opportunities for business growth. That’s why it’s crucial to find a solution that makes it possible to grow your business seamlessly by adding sales channels, platforms and inventory the way you want.
Real scaling power comes from streamlining your order management and workflows so you’re not reinventing the wheel with each store or platform. This case study shows how a 30-year-old business was able to successfully go from brick-and-mortar to omni-channel with one uniting system. Now it adds channels with ease and dominates its market.
To grow in a multi-channel market, you’ll need focused control over the management of your business as well as a holistic perspective so you can make smarter financial decisions and experiment with new ways of selling, like social and mobile.
2. Streamline your omni-channel inventory management
A solid foundation of multi-channel inventory management is the key to success for any ecommerce business, especially one that’s planning to scale. Keeping accurate inventory ensures that your customers receive what they’ve purchased, and having happy customers leads to higher reviews and higher profits.
Find a solution that takes care of all of your inventory needs — from helping you easily manage listings across sales channels and platforms to automating price updates and syncing your stores with your accounting. A great inventory management solution will allow collaboration between fulfillment, accounting and shipping. Most importantly, it will keep track of products’ availability and pricing across all channels.
3. Know your profitability across channels
Who knew there were so many fees associated with selling online? When you’re starting out, they’re often not as big of a deal, but when sales are good and you’re selling on several sites, the costs of paying for shopping cart listings, processing payments and fulfilling orders, as well as shipping expenses add up fast. Without seeing those fees in one place, you have no visibility into what products, channels and shipping carriers are most (or least) profitable for your business. Find a solution that allows you to track expenses from whatever shopping carts, channels or shippers you have so you can understand all your fees and expenses and fully reconcile your accounting.
4. Put analytics to work for you
If your goal is to have a powerful multi-channel online business, you’ll need a powerful multi-channel ecommerce solution — one that will allow you to monitor your entire operation and provide relevant information for increasing revenue. Your analytics solution should provide a company-wide financial view, but it should also allow you to drill down on specific areas like customer behavior, so you can appropriately market to those customers. Much like transaction fees, proper analytics reports will allow for a more holistic understanding of all revenue streams, bringing context and insight into your margins, key performance indicators and returns on investments.
5. Automate accounting and tax compliance
A single online sales order can require as many as 15 different touch points, but we’re sure you already know that. You likely also know how difficult it is to ensure that the transfer of all of that sales data is accurate and timely. One mistake can ruin your operations, and that’s no fun. Throw into the equation the ever-changing landscape of local and state tax jurisdictions, and the stakes get pretty high. Find a solution that will automatically post all of your sales information directly into your accounting software, so you’ll know it is timely, accurate, organized and tax-compliant. Make sure your business software supports QuickBooks, NetSuite or Xero integrations so you can feel confident leaving the complexities of accounting and tax law to the pros.
Follow these suggestions and you’re guaranteed the financial insights to make smart decisions about how to grow your business into a lean, mean omni-channel empire. Imagine a world where you can focus on business — not bookkeeping. What’s more, imagine getting back to what inspired you to start this business in the first place.
For more insider tips and tricks on scaling your multi-channel ecommerce business, listen to this on-demand webinar on adding channels.
This article was originally published on the Webgility blog.