Multi-Channel Retailing Strategies for Amazon and Walmart
A Harvard business study proves that multi-channel retailing works; among the 46,000 consumers that were asked about their shopping experiences, 73% said they use numerous channels throughout their shopping journey. If your eCommerce business has yet to hop on the multi-channel bandwagon, now is the time to get on it.
Multi-channel retail marketing is one of the many lucrative trends disrupting the eCommerce industry in 2022. It provides value to customers by offering them seamless experiences across various sales channels and helps Amazon and Walmart sellers boost sales.
- What Is Multi-Channel Retailing?
- Why Is Amazon the Best Place to Start?
- Four Ways to Boost Sales Using Multi-Channel Retailing
- Do Not Forget Multi-Channel Marketing
- Three Tips for Leveraging Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment
What Is Multi-Channel Retailing?
Multi-channel retailing is a business strategy that facilitates customers’ shopping journeys by offering products on more than one storefront. For example, if you use multi-channel retailing as a business strategy, your products would appear on platforms such as Walmart, Amazon, Shopify, and your physical store location.
Benefits of Multi-Channel Retailing
This diversification improves your customer service because you can tailor it to various needs. For example, physical stores appeal more to people who like to touch and feel their products. Online stores appeal more to people who enjoy the convenience of not leaving their homes.
Adding options to the customer journey comes with excellent benefits. These benefits include the potential for a seamless experience between multiple sales channels.
This change is not going to happen overnight. Instead, you need to focus on building your retail experience with one store before expanding to others. Cross-channeling, or the process of going between different channels, requires the ability to delegate duties.
What Is the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multi-Channel Sales?
Additionally, while multi-channel retailing focuses on customer engagement, omnichannel retailing is geared toward improving customers’ shopping experiences.
If you use Amazon and prefer an omnichannel style, you need to be a Fulfillment by Merchant (FMB) Seller. You will handle all logistics and the physical storage of your inventory. That way, you have complete control of your stock and sales, resulting in easier tracking between channels.
Multi-channel sellers do best as fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Sellers. This way, you can take the logistics of control and storage out of your hands. It’s best to let others handle the fulfillment. Whichever retailing strategy your eCommerce business chooses to adopt, one thing is certain, and that is that you should start by selling on Amazon first.
Why Is Amazon the Best Place to Start?
In a perfect world, you could start anywhere to learn the basics of running an eCommerce business. But in a digital world, Amazon multi-channel retailing is the best place to start. Here are a couple of reasons why:
Sellers Can Fully Leverage the Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment Program
The Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) Program is the ultimate starting point for newbies to handle multiple digital channels. MCF allows Amazon sellers to use their pooled inventory as a means to fulfill orders from their other channels, including their personal websites. Essentially, your inventory management is still with Amazon, meaning you do not have to worry about split inventory management. You can also choose to fulfill using Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime.
Amazon Provides Access to Multiple Marketing Channels
Amazon has mass ownership of multiple websites, and as a result, their advertising options are already multi-channel among various digital options. That means you do not necessarily have to rely on only Amazon ads when going through their advertising platform. There is also a separate Amazon advertising solution for those who want to expand beyond the regular sponsored ads.
Four Ways to Boost Sales Using Multi-Channel Retailing
Once you find you are ready for multi-channeling, you can move on and open a secondary store. Below are four tips designed to help you boost sales using the multi-channel business strategy.
1. Use Multiple Online Channels to Establish Brand Awareness
With enough reviews and purchases, Walmart will expose your product to an entirely new target audience. Additionally, you can attract people to your social media pages by strategically placing product inserts into packages. Exposure to social media has approval for most platforms, including Amazon MCF. That same exposure allows you to sell directly to your customers over doing so through anyone else’s platform.
2. Sell Directly to Customers
You might think it is more of a headache to sell directly to customers. However, you will find that unrestricted phrases and tactics take the pressure off. Ideally, you should use your social media and email lists to make announcements, share blogs, and build your social clout.
Sites like Amazon and Walmart are fantastic at getting the word out, but you do not want to play by their rules all the time. Here are some examples of things you can do on your social media platforms:
- Create direct announcements of sales of your products
- Announce the new release of your product multiple times
- Create blogs and social media posts to share with consumers
- Establish contests and events to grow your product base
Third-party sites rarely allow you to engage with your customers effectively. While Amazon and Walmart are great sites that give you a strong selling foundation, engaging with your consumers beyond the sale is better.
3. Identify Which Marketplaces Are Best Suited for You
It is paramount that eCommerce sellers understand the platform in which they sell their products inside and out. Therefore, before deciding to branch out to a new channel, sellers should conduct research about that platform to determine if it is the right fit. This is because some products are best suited for success on some marketplaces over others.
For instance, those who participate in Amazon multi-channel retailing might find their homemade birdhouses better on Etsy. Examples of other channels to consider for your product include:
- Etsy – Etsy is fantastic for crafty individuals who like making homemade items. Vendor fees are a bit high, but those who can find and meet a trend for custom items can easily find a home here.
- eBay – eBay has an incredibly generous return policy (180 days) that makes it great for customers. It is great for sellers who want an international target audience. It also has an easy-to-use interface.
- Walmart – Walmart is quickly becoming more approachable for individual sellers. They also have unique fulfillment centers similar to Amazon’s. However, the barriers to entry are still a bit higher than on Amazon.
- Newegg – Newegg is best known for computer hardware and electronics enthusiasts. Nevertheless, all things tech would do well in this digital marketplace.
- Shopify – Shopify already coordinates with Amazon and Walmart through unique storefronts. They are a great way to help you establish your eCommerce website and easily integrate with existing marketplaces.
4. Create a Different Strategy for Each Selling Channel
Given that each digital marketplace satisfies different customer needs, multi-channel retailing as a strategy differs across platforms. While there will always be some crossover, one cannot rely on old methods for new places.
Therefore, your cross-channeling efforts need you to evolve. For instance, while one platform may require you to be more competitive on price, another may be more SEO or listing quality focused. Nevertheless, there will always be standard metrics across the board with eCommerce. Reference the table below to see which marketplaces require you to focus on different areas to help your business flourish.
|Site||Focus Areas When Selling|
|Amazon||Winning the buy box, Amazon SEO, the Brand Registry, FBA Selling|
|Walmart||Two-day delivery, competitive pricing, attribute selection|
|eBay||Keyword-driven research, eye-catching photos, quick shipping time|
|Etsy||Having beefy content, optimizing your listing for keywords, appropriate categories|
|Shopify||Website building, Google SEO, content creation, website management|
|Newegg||Keyword-driven content, appropriate keywords, using quality images and videos|
Do Not Forget Multi-Channel Marketing
However, until you establish your brand on these platforms, you will have to pay if you want top billing. Even after you become a top brand, other sellers will constantly be gunning for your title.
Therefore, you must continue to keep up your marketing campaigns on multiple platforms. In addition, long-term strategy demands that you provide links to areas outside of your product listing pages.
Focus on Customer Experience and Inventory Management
Inventory management and customer experience are inherently related. For example, you cannot sell products and satisfy customer orders if your items are not in stock. The two concepts are not unique to multi-channeling, and you already receive constant reminders of that if you pay attention to your dashboard.
But when you work between multiple platforms with multiple sets of inventory, you need to be extra vigilant. The only way to keep these stores functional is to have a working system in place. Be sure that all of your notifications are ready well before stockouts occur. Most marketplaces have access to notification systems that allow them to track their product sales data and monitor their inventory.
Three Tips for Leveraging Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment
1. Treat It Like a Standard Amazon Sale
Amazon still handles Amazon MCF. As a result, be sure to familiarize yourself with its terms of service. The Amazon Seller Central Guide provides you with some handy information on getting started. Here are some of the most critical aspects of this guide:
- Amazon provides a specific fee calculator to MCF sellers.
- MCF orders are still delivered in Amazon-branded packaging, but you can choose to request a “blank box.”
- Amazon allows you to ship with Amazon Logistics for a 5% surcharge. However, you can choose to exclude MCF from shipping with Amazon Logistics.
- Amazon MCF has more restrictions than FBA on getting reimbursed for lost or damaged goods.
- Amazon cannot reimburse you for MCF fulfillment fees.
2. Be Vigilant When Tracking Inventory
MCF means that you have multiple storefronts where inventory appears. If you manage to gain success on your off-site endeavors, that is great! However, that also means you need to keep a close eye on inventory.
This situation is especially critical during seasons with high sales volume. For example, you do not want to run out of toys if you specialize in providing products for toddlers. It could tank your ranking on Amazon, making you more reliant on your alternate MCF site.
3. Do Not Rely Exclusively on Amazon Multi-Channel Retailing
Walmart Marketplace will not work with Amazon, and other smaller companies like Newegg or Etsy do not have the same level of Amazon integration. If you know your niche is needed on other sites, do not rely exclusively on Amazon to make your sales.
In sum, multi-channel retailing works to diversify the scope of your eCommerce business while simultaneously enhancing your brand and products visibility. Given that multi-channel retailing is most suitable for established sellers, those new to the eCommerce world should start small, one marketplace at a time.
Boosting sales in digital marketplaces is most definitely not a sprint but rather a marathon. Only after rudimentary sellers have gotten the gist of how things work on one marketplace can they start deploying and reaping the benefits of multi-channel retailing. You need to be able to expand it with relative ease. Moreover, many of the tips above will help you grow your business, but delegating and automating is key.