Is it time to take your e-commerce business to the next level of growth? If you’re still selling primarily on your own website, the answer is definitely “yes.”
When first starting down this path, most sellers turn to Amazon. Perhaps eBay and Walmart, too. And these marketplace giants are a great start.
However, they’re far from your only options.
Did you know there are now more than 110 highly profitable global e-commerce marketplaces to choose from? From Google and Facebook to Target and Overstock — not to mention dozens of other worldwide sales channels — consumers have a lot of choices when deciding where to buy online.
The more you can take advantage of this growing array of options, the better positioned you’ll be to reach more consumers and maximize your sales potential. We’ve seen sellers experience as much as 1,000% e-commerce growth after expanding to as many as 44 marketplaces.
However, there is a catch.
Today’s empowered consumers have some incredibly high demands. All it takes is one stockout or inaccurate listing to lose a customer to a competitor.
So before you start listing on more e-commerce marketplaces and other online sales channels, it’s critical to put a few essential safeguards in place.
Sync Inventory Management Across Multiple Channels
First things first: If you want to remain as profitable as possible across multiple marketplaces, you’re going to need to keep your inventory updated. And not just on one or two channels, but everywhere you sell.
The last thing you need is for someone to place an order for an item that went out of stock before you had a chance to note the change. This scenario can be a real nightmare for you — one filled with not only lost sales, but damaging negative reviews, too. Each time you list your inventory on another sales channel, the risk for overselling increases.
Thankfully, there is a relatively simple solution to this common problem.
If you haven’t yet used automation to manage inventory on multiple channels, now’s the time to start. This technology will give you peace of mind that your customers are seeing accurate listings with correct inventory quantities, no matter which of your products they’re searching for or where they’re purchasing them. You can even create buffers to control quantity levels across marketplaces and prevent overselling.
Forecast Demand to Ensure the Right Amount
The only thing worse than showing inaccurate inventory is having the wrong amount, whether that means running out of stock too soon or ending up with excess that collects dust.
Run out of inventory before you receive your next shipment, and you have to pay your suppliers and distribution partners a premium for faster delivery. Find yourself stuck with an overabundance, and you lose out on valuable warehouse space.
To prevent these problems as you expand to more e-commerce channels, you’ll need highly accurate sales forecasts. At ChannelAdvisor, we refer to this process as Demand Forecasting. This method helps ensure you’ll always have just the right amount of inventory on hand — an advantage that studies have shown to increase sales by 40% and lower the use of operating capital by 60%.
When forecasting demand, be sure to choose a solution that leverages historical data to give you per-product sales target estimates for at least 30 days — ideally up to 90. This will allow you to expand your e-commerce reach without significantly increasing the risk of overstocking, understocking, paying unnecessary fulfillment center holding fees or dealing with inflated delivery costs.
Prepare Your Product Data Feed
For these steps to work, your data feed must be rock solid. Here’s why:
Every e-commerce marketplace has its own set of specifications for properly feeding product data into the platform, and these requirements change constantly. Each time you fail to map your products to the correct field, the risks of overselling and making shipping mistakes increase — as does the possibility that your listings will fail to show up at all in product search results.
If you’re just starting out and need to maintain accurate listings on one or two marketplaces, this process might be manageable. As soon as you start to expand beyond Amazon and eBay, however, product feed management technology becomes essential. This type of e-commerce integration solves one of the biggest challenges of multichannel selling by ensuring your product data is always mapped to the correct fields.
If you’ve ever wondered how some sellers manage to see success across a dozen or more marketplaces, the answer probably lies in their data feed. Product feed management makes it much easier for you to stay ahead of rapidly changing requirements across a wide array of e-commerce channels such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and dozens more.
The opportunities in e-commerce are virtually endless. If you want to remain competitive, expansion is a must. But expanding profitably involves more than simply listing your products. You’ll need to take steps to prevent overstocking, underselling and other costly mistakes. Although the previously discussed steps aren’t the only considerations, they’re three of the most important to get right from the start. Once you’re syncing inventory, forecasting demand and ensuring accurate product feeds across channels, you’ll be amazed at the level of growth you can achieve.