Leveraging Online Marketplaces to Expand Your Omnichannel Footprint
Successful retailers today—with very few exceptions—are successful because they embrace and support an omnichannel strategy. To reach today’s consumer, you might be able to get away without a brick-and-mortar presence, but you must have some sort of eCommerce presence. And beyond your eCommerce site, you need to have a presence in social media for loyalty and brand engagement, and as importantly, you should sell through online marketplaces, like Amazon and Facebook. All these channels “layer” to provide a complete user experience. In fact, today’s consumers expect these options.
However, if these channels are not truly integrated, you lose many of the benefits, including opportunities for sales and building connections. You must integrate these channels to provide a truly seamless, unified experience.
The Benefits of Omnichannel
A key benefit of integrating multiple sales channels is a positive customer experience because integration ensures all your platforms have accurate, consistent information and behave consistently:
- Statistics show that consumers evaluate brands based on user experience as well as factors like accurate inventory information and consistency of in-stock items.
- Another key to a positive customer experience is ensuring data gathered through one shopping channel is shared automatically among all channels and systems. For example, all platforms should accept the same gift cards or coupons (with the exception of something like an “online only” discount), and it is imperative that those coupons or discount codes actually work. There is nothing more frustrating than getting to the checkout, only to have your discount code be rejected.
Carefully Assessing Channels Before Committing: Are They the Right Fit?
Before doing anything else, you need to determine which channels you want to use. Remember that there are literally hundreds to choose from, and you can’t be on them all. Consider these questions about each marketplace and online sales platform:
- Why should we be on this platform?
- Who is this marketplace targeting?
- Is it a fit for my products?
- Does the shopping experience offered by it provide the same emotional experience for our customers as they would have in our store or eCommerce site?
- Should we consider listing only some products this channel and expanding as we assess how we are performing?
- Does this channel offer creative ways for us to promote our business and increase opportunity and engagements? For example, nearly 90 percent of Instagram users interacted with the brand’s page after being presented with product information, and they didn’t just follow the brand or browse the website; some actually purchased the item from their social feed after being shown the information.
Remember that a shopping journey is not just search, click, and buy; it is a continuous cycle of search, review, compare, click, and buy.
Considering the Technical Side
With the understanding that integration of all your shopping channels is important, how do you go about it? With the glut of marketplaces like Facebook, Etsy, and Amazon rebate and loyalty sites like Rakuten and Ebates—all of which were developed by different companies on different platforms—how do you get them all working together in harmony?
Once you’ve decided on which channels you want to include, the next thing is to review what features are required and then evaluate if any of them have standard connections available. The next decision is whether you want to integrate each channel directly through a platform like LS Central, but it’s important to first decide on how you want to manage each site to determine if you need a technology solution to help with that, like ArcherPoint’s Channel Sales Manager, which connects Business Central into multiple online sites and social.
Another Benefit of Channels: Ideal for Capturing Data
While it’s clear that an omnichannel strategy offers revenue generating avenues and network connections, but there’s another benefit: Social marketplaces can be easy data capture funnels. Consumers are relying more on this electronic world, not only from a safety standpoint with contactless options, but through the entire journey. We cannot stress enough how technology should support these activities, but then go on to encourage consumers to click and buy—not only from the standpoint of direct brand marketing, but also from the standpoint of influencers. It is advisable for retailers to analyze the possibility of partnering with influencers and allowing them to share their brand message to the large and loyal base of followers they have.
Omnichannel is a Retail Must
We’ve touched on many important topics, but there is so much more to be discussed about the benefit of engaging with online marketplaces through a solid omnichannel strategy. To learn more, watch this ArcherPoint Tribe Talk video, The Magic of Marketplaces for Omnichannel Retailers. Then talk to the retail experts at ArcherPoint about how we can help with technology to support your process goals.