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Sun June 23 2013 17:34:57

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

By: Erika Jarvi

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Today we have a guest blog from Erika Jarvi at ShipStation. If you are a multi-channel seller, please weigh in at the comments section about what channels you sell on, including if from your own web site.

Why Would You Ever Decide to Sell on Multiple Channels?

Because it's awesome. And it can help both you and your business grow. Perhaps you've had this happen to you: you’re looking at your orders, and there’s not a ton of growth, but you're looking for it. Over the past few months (years?), you've stagnated. It’s not a bad thing, per se, since your business is still profitable and your head is still above water. But, you're thinking you could expand.

The Need for Growth

This is a generalization, of course, but most of us subscribe to capitalism. We went into business because we saw somewhere where we could succeed. We saw a niche we could fill, or found a product we simply fell in love with producing/selling/marketing/revolving our lives around. And I’m not saying there's anything wrong with that. What I am saying is that at a certain point, it's not enough anymore.

There are tons of psychological reasons behind this that I could mention: the desire for dopamine and all that jazz. But basically you know why: you’re successful and you did it on your own. There's a ton of pride in that. There's a special word for the accomplishments you’ve made and the fact that you even have your own business. You’re an entrepreneur.

When you reach that certain point as an entrepreneur where you sit back (for just a second), look at your life, and sigh - because you’re content, mind you -  you know you're ok. This crazy idea actually panned out. And then you start to think: why wouldn't I want to keep going? Why shouldn't I build my business out? Perhaps you've only been selling on eBay. Or Amazon. Or even your own website. There are tons of ways that you could actually grow your business. Market your product more, expand your product line, go international.

Or, you could go multi-channel. Start selling your products on eBay and Amazon. Build your own website; create your brand. Start making yourself into more than just a business selling products, but rather an entity. No, you won't become transcendant or anything like that, but your business will grow.

The Three Stages of Business


A friend of mine once told me there are three stages until a business has unofficially "made it". A startup (new, fresh, small), a business (multiple people, made a few mistakes & learned from them), and a company. A company is something that catches the eye. It's more than just a single person peddling their wares, it's an entity with whom you could identify and your customers can become a part of. A company can build a vast community around it.

The world today is coming ever closer to being omni-channel. Many people use
most if not all of the social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. You're more than likely on more than one because the demographics are different. Your "real-life" friends & family are on Facebook, but your knitting community is on Twitter.

The same principle applies to selling on multiple channels. Consumers that you might not have reached with your eBay store, you'll reach via Amazon.

Of course, there is a cost associated with opening up a second (or third or fourth) channel on which to sell your products. But the fact is, if you're not growing, what are you? Stagnating.

"If you don’t change, you don’t grow. If you don’t grow, you aren’t really living." – Gail Sheehy

About the Author
Erika  Jarvi is the social media & content manager for ShipStation. You can find her
find me on Twitter, Facebook, and the ShipStation Community Forums. In her free time, she's a lover of video games, her cats, and other generally nerdy things. :)
---

What about you? Are you a multi-channel seller or have you stuck to one channel, and why? Why did you choose the channels on which you sell, and how are the customers different on each? Post a comment here!




Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Sun Jun 23 19:51:21 2013

She writes: "This is a generalization, of course, but most of us subscribe to capitalism. We went into business because we saw somewhere where we could succeed"

What a Red White & Blue American she subscribes to Capitalism. Amen to that.

Globally Socialist eBafia does not agree with her because they are busy creating a "Level Playing Field" where everyone gets the not too much for you sales levels fresh from ebay search.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: madelaine This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 24 02:21:56 2013

Because not one of them can be trusted not to change policies and make your business unviable on that channel.

An old saying about eggs & baskets comes to mind.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 24 09:24:37 2013

Was strictly with ebay. When they started making changes maybe 5-6 years ago, it became more difficult to make any amount of money. Then went to Amazon. Sales were good for a couple of years. Amazon up - ebay down. Then added Bonanza - not much there. Then added Etsy. Sales improving there.
So, we had to go the multiple route to keep going. Next step may be FBA, but heard some horror stories, so need to do some more research there.
Also, agree, do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Thanks Julia, keep it up......

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jun 24 11:40:10 2013

At one point I was selling on 4-6 venues at once and then my ebay store took off and kept me busy enough and the other venues weren't producing very well so I dropped them. Then ebay started it's nose dive and I move lock stock and barrel to another venue which in all seriousness once I got everything set up was bringing in the income we needed in the time I had to devote to on line sales.Then google started messing around and my sales started dropping although I've done lots of promoting my store. So last year, I added another venue back on which is no producing more income than my 'main' store. Yes, eggs and baskets definitely come to mind. I have a minimum sales goal to reach each month to be sure all bills get paid. Last year six months I didn't make it and now this year I will most likely have now my second month this year where I don't meet my sales goal. Of course I hope that in the next week a miracle will happen and the orders will flood in.

I hear about many in sales slumps and we don't know why. Formerly very busy stores aren't getting any business. What has changed? I know Google now that they have ex-ebay workers on board seem to be doing anything in their power to get rid of the small sellers of the world, which is crazy since the small sellers, constantly are putting that money back into the economy where big business can sit on its cash, or pay out huge sums to the CEOs while they lay off the lowest paid workers. Something is very wrong in our economy that is going against all those hardy soles that are taking a chance on opening their own businesses instead of taking or asking for government assistance.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: baghera This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 24 12:28:38 2013

We have a successful eBay store and have been selling there for the last 2.5 years. Just this past Thursday, we stepped into the multi-channel lane by opening an Amazon seller account. Already have 8 sales, so a good start there, too. After we build up listings on Amazon, we will be working on our own website. Love being an entrepreneur.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Jun 24 12:59:26 2013

I agree about the eggs in the basket thing, but the alternative venues need to be viable.


I tried a couple additional venues that work with my category. Tried to actively learn the venue's ways, do optional google stuff, etc….  My result has been that Venue #1 never produced any sales & I don't have any inventory there now.  

Venue#2 has resulted in one sale in the past year and currently has some listings, but I am beginning to think of Venue 2 as inventory in a holding pattern for eBay.

When I ended items that had been lolling around for months from Venue 2 and put them on eBay - they sold quickly.  A few sold the same day, but they ALL sold. At this point common sense would direct the most effort & engergy to my eBay store.


So, what's the answer?   If eBay crashed & burned would the other venues take off - or would some categories end up collateral damage.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Jun 24 13:20:33 2013

These days you have to use multiple channels so that when one channel changes its policies or something foes wrong and they boot you off, your whole business doesn't end up in the dumper. Ebay is still my most active site, but others are starting to produce. Some other sites I've tried are ArtFire, Etsy, Ecrater, Bonanza, Ebid, and AtomicMall. Some do better than others, so I focus on the ones with the best results first, then maybe post on some others to see if things pick up. I'm also hoping to get going on Amazon soon, as well as my own web site.

The key to selling in multiple places is to be organized with your inventory. I keep track of what items are posted where, so I don't inadvertently double-list something or sell it more than once, which is not good for OOAK items :-) Being a computer geek, I wrote my own software to manage this process and automate things, but you can do the same with nothing more than a spreadsheet or even a notebook, if you want to go old-school.  

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jun 24 17:48:18 2013

yes you need to sell on multiple channels these days, as every sale helps.

And ebay and Amazon are big gorillas that will chew you up and spit you out.

Its a shame that none of the alts has really made it yet.

But we need to support them by listing on them and buying from them.

Having your own website is good, but it is so hard to promote it these days.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 24 20:09:14 2013

IF even just the people on HERE--reading posting and lurking--would decide to throw our COLLECTIVE buying and SELLING power to ONE or even more of the "Alts" then that venue would definatly TAKE OFF.  

Forget ebay bribery--lets get our FRIENDS to go look ELSEWHERE so ebay is no longer the forlorn household word it NOW is.  IT will just be a forgotten used-to-be.

ANd heres the test for all of you:::

Where is the BEST place to sell used sportswear;  gear;  high end hand bags and motorcycle parts?  Very sincere here--have HAD IT up to the eyeballs with ebay.

I hope to hear more than crickets!!!!!!

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: sunnieyes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Jun 24 20:22:58 2013

I've been selling on Etsy since 2009  sells have been growing a little every year until this year, it's about half from last.Not sure why???? I'm looking to sell on other channels to sell also, Ebay is my choice. Would like to read more from you... Happy selling to everyone.

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 25 08:02:02 2013

@Tula

'' Being a computer geek, I wrote my own software to manage this process and automate things''

Hey Tula, developed that into a package you are selling?

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: GoodK9 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 26 14:24:02 2013

I would love to do this!  Right now we have an eBay account and have a few items on Webstore.  But I'm not really sure where to go to sell what we have in a b&m shop.  We sell antiques and collectibles (most of which are OOAK) -- any suggestions on where we should set up?  Thanks!

Why Sell on Multiple Channels?   Why Sell on Multiple Channels?

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 1 10:52:04 2013

@ GoodK9 and others - check out Ruby Lane www.rubylane.com - not free but this is one of those areas where you get what you pay for.

There is a reason Ruby Lane keeps appearing at the top of the annual eCommerceBytes surveys of online selling venues.

I envy you, GoodK9, if you can sit in the store with a computer on the desk. You can have it both ways: The item is there on the shelf and if a customer buys it in person, you can take it out of your Ruby Lane inventory.  I live too far from a B&M store to do this!  

Also, I hope you use both b&m and online to drive customers from one to the other. A b&m customer may find it easier to shop online occasionally. An online customer may find something interesting enough to drive them into the store.  

Try searching within Ruby Lane to see if your type of merchandise is selling, and especially look at ''sold'' items.  Also Google keyword search and see if your type of item is appearing, and if Ruby Lane listings appear near the top of Google. They are actively working on improving search engine response. I am a fairly niche seller but find my own and other Ruby Lane listings on page 1 of Google searches all the time.

They also let you run your own store. I am so sick of online stores where I can't even email chat back and forth with a seller, I ''must'' log into my account with the venue.

Ruby Lane charges NO commissions, only predictable flat fees. My expenses if I don't take advantage of their programs to reduce them, will run around 10%.

My biggest problem with listing on Ruby Lane is my own ignorance many times about prices/values.

Yes this is a blatant plug, but it's worked for me, and you asked! I have sold there for over 10 years. It does take time to get a customer base going but it's been an incredibly good fit for my needs.

Good luck no matter what choice you make.  Antiques/collectibles is a very very tough area any more, it's the first place economically strapped people have cut back.    



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