E-commerce and multi-channel selling is more important than ever
During the lockdown, businesses have found that just selling their products on one channel is not enough and have turned to multi-channel and their own e-commerce stores. Those that have been able to adapt have faired better than those who have had restrictions from their online platforms.
In recent months, we saw that Amazon stopped sellers from selling any items deemed ‘non-essential’ and this resulted in a backlog of orders for some companies, damaging reputations and has seen some businesses refunding orders which then couldn’t be fulfilled.
Some sellers saw their accounts suspended when platforms suddenly experienced a surge in sales which left their competitors to dive in and take advantage.
Our advice, therefore, is to look to sell through multi-channels and platforms as you can manage. Make sure you are in control and avoid third parties making decisions which could affect your sales and preventing you from trading.
What are the options for opening an online shop?
Let’s look at the marketplace. You have eBay, Etsy and Amazon and the benefits are that they are easy to set up and access. Your product listing on a site as these should be searchable and simple to manage.
These marketplaces are not perfect. Not only do they have control over everything on their channel, they decide whether they allow you to sell and can turn you off. They can also take advantage of high-selling items. AmazonBasics is just that – they make a similar product to items that are selling well and can become your direct competition.
Social Media platforms also offer eCommerce solutions for small businesses. On Facebook Shop, you can import your product directly to your Facebook Account to sell. Instagram and WhatsApp work similarly, and Instagram also offers gift cards.
For hairdressers or other service types, who have not yet opened since lockdown, gift cards are a great way to keep the cash coming in, but you need to recognise that time has to be allowed on re-opening to book in these customers who have already paid.
Setting up your own online shop
Having your own e-commerce store will give you the maximum amount of control and ensure you will always be able to sell online.
The ‘new’ normal is probably never going to see the same amount of customers through your door unless a vaccine becomes available, and ‘walk-ins’ and ‘impulse buys’ will become less frequent. Therefore, online purchases will become essential, and repeat purchases will be your ‘bread and butter’.
You can set up your own online shop using a platform such as Shopify or WooCommerce however, some people find this difficult and wish they had used a website designer or agency to do this for them.
When you set up your own e-commerce store, it will need marketing – you won’t see the same levels of sales as you did via the other marketplaces. Consider that you will need support to find the best ways to drive traffic to your website; you will need SEO; remarketing; social media and other marketing and perhaps Google Ads when you start on this journey. Although there won’t be additional fees, there will still be fees that you need to consider. It will net you more profits, but you will have to market your website.
If you want to discuss possibilities, we can talk you through the pros and cons via a Zoom meet or other virtual chat channel – give us a call on 07572 422303.