The Most Important Sales Channels For Ecommerce Businesses

A multichannel sales strategy is critical for every business. The healthiest brands are brands that meet customers where they spend time. Strong brands offer extraordinary buying experiences; they create robust by taking ownership of customer experience in an online environment they control. Nailing sales channel elements from the start enables brands to attract new customers and builds strong relationships.  

There are more advantages to multichannel sales, including: 

  • New options for existing customers – Offering your existing customers new ways to purchase products improves customer experience. Consumers want choice and flexibility in buying options. Multichannel selling offers that choice.  
  • New revenue streams – Increased channel visibility offers increased revenue growth opportunities. Multichannel sales make it easier to implement custom marketing strategies for individual channels.  
  • Easier to set up and operate than physical stores – Ecommerce stores do not have complicated processes like real estate to deal with, making operations less costly and less complex. 

Sales Channels in Ecommerce 

There are a few sales channels worth consideration. Here are seven popular ones:  

General marketplaces

The general marketplace is a great sales channel. It has massive appeal, offers a wide range of goods and appeals to many types of customers. The top benefits of general marketplace sales are credibility and large audiences. The significant drawback to a general marketplace is that brand-building is a challenge.  

Amazon shoppers generally do not focus on the third-party seller, you. Vendors in general marketplaces like Amazon often need help with brand building because it is challenging to make an impression. It is also difficult to build customer relationships. Other drawbacks include marketplace rules, restrictions and fees. Furthermore, if a vendor sells niche products a large general marketplace might not be ideal. General marketplaces include Amazon (as mentioned), Jet and Walmart. 

Auction marketplaces

eBay is the most well-known auction marketplace. It is ideal for collectibles, rarities or selling a single quantity. Generally, auction marketplaces do not charge listing fees and sales profits come from commissions or a sales price percentage. However, be aware that auction sites often have long sales cycles and are slower than other sales channels.  

Examples of auction marketplaces include:  

Online Auction Website  Best Use  Key Benefit 
eBay  Best general use  Free for buyers and reasonable seller fees 
Auction.com  Real estate  Buy bank-owned and foreclosed properties 
Copart  Auto  Clean and salvage titles  
BidSpotter  Business equipment  Caters to business equipment with professional auctioneers around the world 
Sotheby’s  Luxury and collector items  One of the most established luxury auction houses 
GSA Auctions  Government surplus items  This is an actual government website offering everything from aircraft, aircraft parts, vehicles and more 

 Social media marketplaces

Social media channels offer numerous ways to sell products, from Facebook stores to buyable pins on Pinterest. Social selling offers advantages because it does not need the effort of a new website or a marketplace. For those who have a significant number of followers, social media ecommerce offers a way to quick revenue.  

Examples of social marketplaces include:  

  • Facebook Stores 
  • Facebook Marketplaces 
  • Instagram shops 
  • Instagram buy now buttons 

Social marketplaces (also known as modern marketplaces) are content-driven online sales channels. These sales channels are successful because buyers are already there.  

The pros of modern marketplaces:  

  • Apps that track metrics so sellers can optimize posts, reach target audiences and maximize customer reach 
  • Opportunities for brand collaborations and influencers offer cross-selling and cross-promotion benefits 
  • Most social media channels offer templates for advertising and stores 
  • Customer service and support can be immediate  

The cons of modern marketplaces:  

  • Sellers need to create content to stay visible continuously 
  • Sellers must be aware of negative feedback and online trolling  
  • If a social media site experiences downtime or the account is hacked, sales go down 

Handmade and craft marketplaces

Marketplaces like Etsy offer great options for handmade products and it has a favorable customer reputation. Etsy also offers wholesale options for bulk sellers. Costs to sell on Etsy include a listing fee and a percentage of the sales price.  

Other craft marketplaces include:  

  • ArtYah 
  • Craftsy 
  • Zibbet 

Your eommerce site

Ecommerce is any transaction completed online, like when someone buys clothing online. Food delivery apps like Doordash and Postmates are also examples of ecommerce. This is a vast, expanding marketplace that is worth over $5 trillion and is expected to be nearly 25% of sales worldwide by 2025.  

The good about ecommerce sites and platforms:  

  • Low startup costs 
  • International sales 
  • 24/7 selling as long as the site is online 
  • Easy to collect customer data  

What’s not good:  

  • Distribution challenges can cause sales to drop when the customer base gets frustrated  
  • A possibility of high product returns because customers cannot try on or test products before purchase 
  • In-person sales are still the preferred shopping experience  

Direct-to-consumer ecommerce

 Sales channels like Gymshark offer products directly from the company. Studies have shown that consumers prefer directly rather than from general, multi-brand retailers.  

The pros of direct-to-consumer online stores:   

  • Better customer data through website traffic. This improves lead generation and planning for future marketing campaigns 
  • Few to no restrictions on brand presentation and product descriptions 
  • Sellers retain all profits 

The cons:  

  • Sellers are responsible for all marketing and logistic costs  
  • There could be difficulty getting brand exposure 
  • High startup costs compared to white-label or wholesale 

Top ecommerce sales channels include Shopify and Wix. Also, website hosting platforms like GoDaddy offer online store options.  

Comparison ecommerce sites

Comparison online shopping sites offer exactly that – comparisons. These sites have content in the form of articles. Comparison sites do not sell products but link to your ecommerce site. There is no need to upload products or create checkouts – they connect your product data via an API.  

Examples include: 

Omnichannel retail: the best of all worlds 

Omnichannel retail is an excellent option for businesses and is widely used for a reason. It is a valuable way to get brand exposure and reach your target audience and customer base. This business model offers seamless shopping experiences to consumers and includes in-store, general marketplaces, craft and handmade marketplaces, social media and via resellers. Retailers often offer products for sale on sites like Poshmark and eBay. 

Benefits of using multichannel selling 

There are many pros to using multichannel sales including:  

  • Expanding your audience – The more channels you use, the better your chances are of new customers discovering your brand and loving your products 
  • More purchasing options – More sales channels means more customers have opportunities to buy your products 
  • Scale at a low cost – It is less expensive to add sales channels than to open physical, brick-and-mortar stores in various locations 
  • Improved SEO – Quality back and reciprocal links to your ecommerce store improves brand awareness 

Place an online store at the center of your sales strategy  

When building your business, there could be a temptation to set up one channel. But that will not get you the returns you want. Ecommerce sites like Shopify and Wix offer universal, flexible options where sellers can add and remove components as necessary. Ecommerce sites offer social selling, customizable URLs, shipping options, sales and data metrics, sales and inventory tracking.  

Benefits include:  

  • Simple to use – When getting started or developing products, it is easier to build your business and plug in more sales channels like social selling and general marketplaces. The biggest challenge of entering general or traditional marketplaces is they need quality and accurate product information. Consider that even to be approved on a marketplace like Amazon, you must present detailed information about your products and shipping. This includes SKUs and ISBN numbers.
  • Building in a siloed ecosystem – Consumers follow trends in products and shopping platforms. Third-party platforms a susceptible to trend shifts like policy changes, algorithms shifts and user fluctuations. For example, if customer sentiment changes and buyers move from Facebook to Tik Tok, you risk losing a lot of sales.  
  • Seller restrictions Selling through traditional marketplaces includes complexities like the marketplace controls branding, product uploads and how you communicate with customers. Also, your customers associate the marketplace with your products, not your brand. This makes it difficult for your store to differentiate itself from shops that are similar to yours.  

Different marketplaces draw in different types of buyers. Not every product fits Esty, Walmart or Amazon. Consider the type of buyers these platforms attracted over time. Your relationship with these general marketplaces brings tradeoffs. There are opportunities to capitalize on a built-in customer base, but there is a risk of losing brand identity if you cannot create your online presence.  

  • Building your brand story It is possible to create a compelling brand on a social media platform or at a retail location, but not so much on a traditional marketplace. Creating your brand on a customized ecommerce platform offers a simple, seamless customer experience. Your customers will find it easy to return for repeat purchases.  

Elevate Your Ecommerce Growth Strategy

If you want to get the most from your online sales, omnichannel selling on a custom ecommerce platform is the way to go. Not every sales channel is ideal for every brand, so ensure you have done the research. Evaluate the pros and cons of each before you make a decision.  

Stefanini offers a comprehensive range of digital marketing solutions, including ecommerce management. If you need help expanding your audience reach through ecommerce, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. 

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