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Hard facts on software -Multi Channel Sales

Last week I highlighted some of the current trends in e-commerce. Let’s look into more detail at these trends this week. The most important one is Multi Channel sales. No, it doesn’t mean you advertise on multiple radio channels at the same time. So what is multi channel sales then? Mitch Bettis on his “Practical e-commerce” blog had the following to say on the subject:
“Defining multichannel selling has taken a new twist in recent years, but the end result is the same for merchants — getting products to sell in the hands of potential customers. In the old days multichannel selling consisted of two options — brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs. Prior to the advent of e-commerce, reaching a new customer base was incumbent on an entrepreneur franchising his retail store or getting his company’s catalog in front of a new shopper.
As e-commerce blossomed, it opened a third sales channel for merchants; launch a website and you can suddenly sell to a global marketplace. As the cost to enter the e-commerce market dropped, many entrepreneurs bypassed brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs altogether, preferring to launch a virtual store online.
The Internet has changed how many people shop, but that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar stores and catalog opportunities have lost steam. In fact, new online channels have given small-business owners a new advantage in competing with the mega-retailers. Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, says merchants who embrace the new shopping trends will have a business edge over those who do not.
“More and more consumers are starting their online shopping experience through comparison-shopping engines, online search engines and marketplaces,” said Wingo. “That seems alarming, but it is actually a big opportunity for smaller businesses because they have a chance to compete now.”
Recent developments within the e-commerce tract have created two new dynamic sales channels. Beyond a basic website, a merchant can now sell in a public marketplace like eBay, Overstock and Amazon as well as tap into a multitude shopping-comparison sites like PriceCheck, ShopMania and others. Shopping comparison sites also serve as a powerful tool to connect buyers and products.
Some people define multichannel selling as a combination of brick-and-mortar, catalog and Internet activity. Others say multichannel selling can be defined as sales within the various online channels: website, marketplaces and shopping-comparison sites.
Either way you define it, tapping into multiple sales channels can increase opportunities for additional sales as well as help expand your brand’s recognition.
The good news is that those customers who respond to multichannel marketing are different from single-channel customers: They tend to earn more money, and they buy more. In addition, customers who purchase via at least two channels spend more per year than single-channel shoppers.
Online retailing association Shop.org’s recent research study shows the opportunities of selling through multiple channels.
It found that multichannel shoppers are more valuable than customers who shop via a single sales channel.
It found that tri-channel (retail, catalog, Internet) shoppers are more loyal than otherwise similar customers who purchase from only one or two channels. The study found that customers who purchased from all three channels had a 73 percent likelihood to make similar purchases from that retailer.
The online sales environment continues to grow and is reaching more and more customers.  It is important that you start with the target customer you have profiled, because it is not an if-you-build-it-they- will-come type of an atmosphere anymore. It is not about putting up a website and your customers will appear. I think you really have to use your website and your online presence as a  targetting tool to reach those customers.
Until next time then – Keep it (A)fresh.

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