Industry Roundtable: How to Diversify Your Sales Channels

Since the pandemic began in early 2020, consumers have had to rethink how they shop. For many shoppers, this means migrating over to digital channels for their purchases. 

A recent Brightpearl survey found that 53% of consumers have increased their online shopping during the pandemic, and 78% intend to do so further over the next year.  

For retailers, this means that having a variety of diverse digital shopping channels customers can purchase from is key. The current landscape demands more digital ambition to deliver excellent buying experiences, stand out in a crowded landscape, and persuade shoppers to break from their Amazon-first shopping habits. 

We asked a few of our partners some important questions about how retailers can diversify their sales channels to keep up with new consumer habits. See their answers below. 

As the way consumers shop continues to shift, do you feel it’s vital for merchants to diversify their sales channels?

“For the past year, many retailers have seen ecommerce be their only channel for commerce, highlighting the vital need for a robust and diversified channel strategy.  It also highlights the critical need for retailers selling only on the big three (Amazon, eBay, and Walmart) to invest in their own ecommerce storefronts, allowing them to get closer to their customers and develop relationships based on more than just winning a buy-box.” – Chris Lawrence, Strategy & Business Development at Sellware

“Potential buyers are already on multiple sales channels. You need to meet them where they are rather than waiting for them to find you. Marketplaces are a great way for brands to show their products to new customers who may never otherwise know about the brand’s own web presence or social following. Google search is about matching the seeker’s intent with the best answer. Marketplace search (like Amazon’s A10 algorithm) is about matching a shopper’s intent with the product that the shopper is most likely to buy.” – Logan Durant, VP of Client Strategy at Exclusive Concepts

“Even before COVID-19, the need for merchants to reach customers where they were was significant. We saw that trend accelerate in 2020. We saw merchants focus on Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS) initiatives and adopting marketplace strategies. Customers simply have more choices than ever of where to shop, so creating new sales strategies around your websites, social, mobile, brick and mortar, marketplace channels, and global expansion will lead to increased loyalty and customer growth.” – Jen Kijek, Director of Strategic Alliances, eCommerce, Payments, and Billing at Avalara

Can you give us some tips for getting started on a marketplace?

First, invest in high-quality imagery. High-quality product imagery is one of the cornerstones of ecommerce best practices, whether on your site or your Amazon store. Some customers still have a level of mistrust against some Amazon products and will use imagery to identify if the product is authentic or not. Customers will also use your imagery to visualize the product and understand if they would like to make the purchase, so you need to make sure that it clearly explains key product features.

Also, don’t forget to register your brand on the Amazon Brand Registry. To do this, you need an active registered trademark, and you need to prove ownership of the brand. Having a registered brand will give you greater control over your product listings. You will be allowed to create an Amazon Brand Store and have proactive brand protection from suspected infringing products or inaccurate content. An Amazon Brand Store can act as a ‘homepage’ for your store on the marketplace, where you can promote content, products, videos, and more. Plus, Amazon Brand Stores are also one of the places on the marketplace where customers will not see your competitors’ ads.” – Victor Fernandez, Lead Amazon Strategist at Fluid Commerce 

“You can have the greatest product in the world, but if you don’t have ample stock, fast shipping, and quality content in your listings, that perfect product means nothing. You should also be advertising with paid ads like PPC campaigns (text, display, and video) and newer ways of advertising, such as user-generated content, social proof, and influencer marketing. Finally, take advantage of product page variants. This gives merchants a way to capitalize on the success of top sellers by using those existing winners as a launchpad for related SKUs.” – Logan Durant, VP of Client Strategy at Exclusive Concepts

“Start with a small subset of your products to learn the nuances and rules of each marketplace.  Each marketplace has different requirements, and this will help you quickly discover the important data elements to begin listing in bulk more efficiently. Then, once you learn the basics, find tools to list at scale and automate the heavy lifting.” – Chris Lawrence, Strategy & Business Development, at Sellware

What advice can you offer to merchants with Brick & Mortar locations? How can they still get value out of their storefronts despite lockdowns and capacity limitations?

As online sales soared in 2020 due to lockdowns, stores pivoted to BOPIS, which can mean in-store, curbside, or drive-through pickup. The data indicates that retailers that offered those services grew faster than their peers. While store traffic is returning, we can expect consumers to retain many of their new shopping behaviors. What this means is that merchants will likely need to invest in order management technologies to manage their omnichannel operations along with creating a customer-first culture internally.” – Jen Kijek, Director of Strategic Alliances, eCommerce, Payments, and Billing at Avalara

Physical retail space is valuable, but you must reimagine it. One way to do that is to use it as a fulfillment and service hub. Use the space to store inventory and ship to out-of-town buyers while also making it a BOPIS destination where you can deliver curbside or in-store to local buyers. If your store is open for shopping, list it accurately on Google My Business. Be clear about hours and capacity. Make sure your website and your physical store complement each other. The customer experience needs to be excellent, consistent, and frictionless.” – Logan Durant, VP of Client Strategy at Exclusive Concepts

Are your sales channels diversified enough?

In our survey, 38% of consumers said they’re more likely to buy online than in-store over the next year, and 66% will be making fewer trips to physical stores. Even when the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, consumers’ new shopping behaviors will be here to stay. Retailers need to be asking themselves if their current set-up supports these consumers in the new normal. 

Learn more about how Brightpearl supports multichannel businesses here.