Using a multichannel strategy to sell your product   By Sarah Brown

We’re all pretty familiar with the adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If you had a wad of cash to invest, would you ignore this principle and place your bet on one stock? Probably not, because you understand that you would be risking 100-percent of that cash on a gamble.

Shouldn’t the same principle be applied to an entrepreneur who wants to maximize his or her profits?

If you’re listing all your products in one marketplace, you are essentially gambling 100-percent of your inventory to the audience that frequents that site. But what about potential customers you may be missing out on because they prefer to shop elsewhere?

This is why your business plan should include goals to cast your net wider.

I say “goals” because building a business is a learning experience and can be overwhelming if not managed carefully. Therefore, it may be wise to start with one or two marketplaces and list up to eight more places you’d like to see your store embedded into in the next x-number of years. Besides growing your business as you learn, you get the added benefit of achieving goals, which can be very encouraging.

The first two obvious marketplaces you will probably place yourself into are Amazon and eBay. They are the giants of online marketplaces, as well as a good place to learn the pros and cons of online selling.

A third option to consider is hosting your own website.

Steve Chou at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com is a big proponent of starting independent Web stores. When people ask him why they should host their own shopping site, he answers them with a question: “Would you ever place your future and destiny in the hands of someone else who doesn’t share your same interests?”

While there are some valid reasons to sell on places like eBay and Amazon, those marketplaces take a good chunk of your profit, they can raise their fees whenever they like, and they can change rules that put you at risk for losing your customers, Chou says.

Two of his favorite recommendations for webhosting include HostGator.com and BlueHost.com.

Other marketplaces you may want to consider include:

Once you’ve decided it’s in your best interest to cast your net across multiple selling channels, you may want to begin shopping for a program that will help you manage your inventory.

Matthew Ogborne at Tamebay.com says he doesn’t believe there is any one software program better than another right now. Instead, Ogborne suggests some key features to look for when researching your options, including stock control across multiple channels, template availability and order management.

To get you started on your search, take a look at ecomdash.com, suredone.com, sellbrite.com and stitchlabs.com.

Like I said, expanding your business can be overwhelming and a learn-as-you-go experience, but the risks involved will ultimately increase your customer base and, hopefully, your profits.

Sarah Brown is a freelance writer and editor-in-chief of her own local online news source. In addition to being an online seller and product developer, she has written for Auctiva EDU, one of the first online auction management software developers.

 

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