There are many different sales channels, both online and offline, for retailers to choose from — but which ones are actually worth investing time and money into?
We take a look at the key sales channels that retailers should use, and whether they’re the right fit for your business.
Offline Sales Channels
Brick and Mortar Store
While many people will tell you that online shopping is killing off brick and mortar stores, there are still a lot of benefits to setting up a physical location for your retail business.
Many shoppers still want to see, examine, and try out products in real life before they buy. Plus, when you have a brick and mortar store as well as an online store, it offers more flexibility for delivery options: you can offer a click and collect service, or people can check something out in-store but then order online for home delivery. In fact, some of the bigger online retailers are now starting to open up brick and mortar stores, so it’s still a valuable sales channel.
Pop-up Stalls and Markets
Setting up your own physical retail store can require a hefty investment. If you’re a small business looking to test the waters of offline sales channels, start off at local markets and pop-up events. A lot of people are looking to shop local and support independent businesses, so there’s a lot of demand for unique market traders. Plus, it’s a good way to judge which of your products sell and which ones aren’t so popular.
Online Sales Channels
Selling online offers a potentially unlimited customer base; you could sell to anyone anywhere in the world. For small businesses, online sales might seem a big stretch but there are plenty of simple store builders that can help you create a professional-looking ecommerce website with little to no technical knowledge.
And if you’ve got limited stock available, then dropshipping is a business model that allows you to sell products without having to buy or store the stock. Your supplier will ship the products directly to your customers. This gives you a lot more flexibility to offer a wider range of products online without investing large sums of money.
Selling on your own ecommerce site is essential if you’re looking to establish a brand and grow your business. But you’ll need to ensure that you SEO optimize your website’s content to gain organic traffic. Or be willing to invest in pay-per-click campaigns and social media ads to boost awareness and drive shoppers to your store.
There is a whole range of different third party and marketplace websites that are worth considering as a sales channel including eBay, Amazon, or Etsy if you’re selling handmade or creative products. Marketplaces are often a good starting point for selling online as they already have a huge amount of traffic. In fact, 63% of consumers say that they start their online shopping searches directly on Amazon.
However, when you sell your products through third-party sites you usually have to pay a percentage fee for each sale as well as monthly fees. Plus there’s less opportunity for your brand to stand out, people often just think they are buying from the platform. So if you’re looking to grow a successful online retail business, you should try and move to your own ecommerce site rather than rely exclusively on marketplaces.
Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine that’s part of Google Adwords advertising platform, and it’s a key channel for retailers to sell products. Search engines are the second most popular place for shoppers to start their product search when they want to buy something. When you set your store up with Google Shopping, your products (with photos) can appear at the top of search results for relevant searches.
Each time someone clicks on the Google Shopping ads, they’re taken through to your product page and Google charges you. You do have to invest some money into it, but it’s a good way to promote your products to shoppers who are ready to buy.
Social media isn’t just a great way to market your retail business, it can also be an important sales channel. Even though it’s a relatively new feature on Instagram, there are over 130 million users tapping on shoppable posts every month so it’s a channel worth considering.
You can set up an Instagram Shop that allows you to integrate your product catalog with your Instagram account. You’ll have a “Shop” tab on your Instagram profile that users can click to view your products without leaving the Instagram app, or you can add shoppable tags to your posts so people can tap on the tag to purchase the item.
Facebook has also recently launched it’s own Facebook Shops feature, which allows you to create an online store on both Facebook and Instagram.
Ecommerce Mobile App
Creating a mobile app can be a big investment for a small retail business, but if you’re really looking at expanding your online sales, it’s important to consider mobile shoppers. In the second quarter of 2020, mobile devices made up 51% of global website traffic, so it’s likely that at least half of the visitors to your ecommerce store are using a smartphone or tablet.
An ecommerce app can offer a better shopping experience for your customers than viewing your full website on their mobile device, even if it’s mobile-friendly. They also allow you to communicate with your customers more instantly by sending out announcements and updates via push notifications on their phones. You can either work with a developer to make a bespoke app for your store, or you can use an app builder to build one yourself – it’s a bit trickier but will save you money if you do.
These are the key sales channels you need to be considering to establish and grow a successful store online and offline.