SHOP.CA recently launched onto the Canadian eCommerce scene, and since we have a number of our own merchants running on this new marketplace, I thought it was a good time to talk a little about what merchants need to think about when integrating with SHOP.CA, as well as other sales channels.
Selling multi-channel can be a bit of a double-edged sword for a lot of merchants that don’t prepare properly. It can cut both ways. Yes, it can provide you with an influx of fresh order volume on top of your on-site sales and, yes, it can really hurt you if you’re unable to successfully fulfill this new volume of business. Note that, when I say “successfully fulfill” I am talking about getting your orders out quickly, not 3 weeks later after you’ve cleaned up the backlog.
So how do you know if you are prepared for multi-channel selling? Here are a few questions / criteria that we use to evaluate our own sites preparedness for SHOP.CA:
1. Is selling on SHOP.CA an immediate part of your growth strategy?
This is probably the first thing you need to consider. What’s your growth strategy as an eCommerce business? Generally the answer to this depends on where you are as an eCommerce company. Many of our merchants are still very young in their on-site venture.
So the first question isn’t whether or not they (or you) should be selling in the channel. The question is whether or not it’s what you should be doing right now. Are there projects that are easier to get done that will have good to great impact on your sales? We call this the “low hanging fruit” of eCommerce. Little things that big sites do, that smaller sites tend to bypass in hopes they can get supposed-bigger wins.
2. Are you processing orders from your website manually? What else are you processing manually?
Successful multi-channel selling has a lot to do with strong process automation. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise for eCommerce merchants that have achieved multi-million $ per year sale volume.
Many merchants still use their eCommerce platform as their order processing system. Putting in proper fulfillment systems and processes is way outside of the scope of this post, but it still needs some mention.
Our best merchants are the ones who have amazing backend order fulfilment systems and processes. We’ve used software like Netsuite, BlueLink ERP, OrderMotion, SAP Business One, SAGE Business Vision etc. Each has its strengths and weaknesses but they are all an order of magnitude, better at managing fulfillment systems/processes than your eCommerce platform ever will be. Even the Tier1 platforms can’t touch a proper ERP setup in effectiveness.
3. Are you strictly a channel merchant?
Why is this important? Wouldn’t an already channel seller not have to think about much to integrate with SHOP.CA? Yes and no. Experienced multi-channel sellers can get a new channel up and running smoothly much more quickly than someone new to channel sales entirely.
However, turning on a new channel for a merchant who is strictly off-site / multi-channel selling is more than just flipping switches. There’s one particular item I’d like you to think about before jumping into any new channel, including SHOP.CA.
Is SHOP.CA selling to a similar target customer demographic as my other channels? If yes, then things become exponentially easier for you. If no, you have to think about what you need to do in order to prepare your catalog to be sold to a potentially much different customer than you are used to in other channels.
4. Does your staff understand how Shop.CA and other channels work with your business?
The best method I know to explain how multi-channel e-tailing works, is the hub and spoke analogy. Your eCommerce site / platform is typically the “hub” of the whole operation. You typically merchandise your product catalog here, manage your customers, orders etc… From your “hub”, each external channel you sell on is a spoke. It’s an additional sales channel.
It’s critical that your staff understands how this works. It will help frame / give context to your internal teams and processes. Having the entire team know how each channel behaves and what makes it different than your on-site business is critical.
5. Have you done direct-to-consumer fulfillment before?
Might seem like a silly question to ask, but a LOT of channel sellers are wholesale distributors first and direct to consumer retailers second. There is a dramatic difference in the types of fulfillment processes that B2B companies have, versus B2C.
Most B2B fulfillment is larger quantities per order per customer. Which means that B2B companies are setup to handle picking, packing, and shipping potentially dozens if not hundreds of different items for a single order. So if you are a wholesale distributor and you want to list your product for sale on SHOP.CA you need to be prepared for what direct-to-consumer fulfilment is going to do to your business.
Note: Demac Media is a SHOP.CA Certified Integration Partner. For more details click here