Diversifying sales channels to boost customers and revenue during peak and beyond

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Diversifying sales channels to boost customers and revenue during peak and beyond.

By Ian Moore, Founder of Excellent Zephyr.

The British Retail Consortium’s most recent report on high street and online spending patterns showed a steep annual drop in retail sales and an increasing number of retailers offering promotional offers, setting the scene for the imminent peak season.

Black Friday 2023 is looking to be tougher for retailers than in recent years, with inflation rates soaring to unprecedented levels and shoppers more discerning than ever. Against this backdrop, retailers will be striving hard to stay ahead of competition, attract customers and drive sales.

With this in mind, here we look at how retailers can stay ahead of the curve this peak season and beyond, by diversifying their sales channels to drive revenue - a simple, yet effective strategy. How can retailers provide a competitive advantage by offering more choices to customers and meeting them where they prefer to shop?

Sell on popular online marketplaces

More than two-thirds of UK consumers say they find online marketplaces the most convenient place to shop, according to Mirakl’s 2022 State of online marketplace adoption report. The findings also show that consumers find marketplaces better able to meet their needs than conventional eCommerce sites which only offer products from a single retailer.

With this in mind, retailers should consider maintaining a presence on popular marketplaces, as well as having their own websites. Not only will this provide retailers with an additional channel to help drive more sales, it will also enable them to reach customers that wouldn’t have visited their website - either because they still don’t have trust in smaller retailer websites, or they prefer the convenience and the trust they have in marketplaces. 

Marketplaces also offer reduced marketing costs compared to other sales channels, and are preferred by many shoppers as they enable them to compare prices and products from a single source. Many popular marketplaces including Ebay and Amazon also allow new opportunities for overseas sales - a rich opportunity for expanding a customer base. 

Marketplaces also provide great opportunities for establishing new trading partnerships with traders and suppliers, either within a retailer’s supply chain or across multiple supply chains to help boost business growth and sales. 

Consider B2B wholesale 

The UK B2B eCommerce market is projected to reach USD 2,364 billion by 2030. B2B wholesale plays a key part in this market, and involves selling goods in bulk to other businesses (B2B sales), rather than selling them directly to consumers (DTC). Wholesalers typically buy large quantities of products from producers, which they then resell to retailers. Each B2B wholesale transaction generates much more revenue than individual products sales to consumers and the ability to sell in bulk means that wholesalers invariably enjoy a higher overall sales volume through repeat purchases. Retailers who solely sell DTC should therefore consider also adopting the B2B wholesale route to maximise sales volume and average order value

Wholesale marketplaces are a great way to connect with wholesale retail buyers and there are a wide range to choose from, all differing in fees and policies, such as Tundra, Creotate and Faire, to name a few. 

Leverage the power of the pop-up

A recent survey by Google showed that, of the brands that had experimented with pop-up shops, 46 per cent reported an increase in sales, with 66 per cent citing greater brand awareness and 46 per cent, a spike in social media engagement. Pop-up shops are ideal for eCommerce retailers that are looking to diversify their sales channels and take advantage of the peak trading period, but at the same time keep costs down. They’re a hugely attractive option in today’s economic climate as they mean no commitments for a long lease - one of the main overheads of a physical store. The flexible pop-up also provides the perfect environment for hosting exciting product launches and for offering the engaging cross-channel customer experience that today’s shopper demands. 

Embrace social commerce

With over 53 per cent of Brits using social media for online shopping, with this number increasing to over 66% during Black Friday weekend, retailers would do well to leverage the power of social commerce to remain competitive in the marketplace during the peak trading period. Not only does social commerce expand a retailer’s sales channels, it also enables them to reach and engage with even wider audiences via livestream shopping events - a trend that started on social media in China and has grown into a $512 billion market worldwide.

Livestream shopping is a powerful way for retailers to interact with and sell to customers in an entertaining livestream event, on platforms such as TikTok, featuring influencers and brand representatives. Social commerce opens up many opportunities for retailers to create more personalised and engaging customer experiences and foster a sense of community around their products - the perfect environment for targeting shoppers with customised offers and promotions, to keep them coming back for more. 

Not only does social commerce allow retailers to reach a broader audience, but it leverages social influence, gains valuable customer insights and helps to provide a seamless shopping experience. 

Don’t just diversify; unify

As well as diversifying sales channels, retailers should work hard to ensure their channels are unified in order to create a seamless and cohesive customer journey. Retailers should ensure channels are integrated by offering customers consistent branding and information across each channel. The UX design of every channel should be focussed on enabling the seamlessness of the experience - a ‘chanel-less experience’. Retailers should also focus on customer data integration to give them a unified view of the customer across all their channels so they can provide the right support at the right time and target the customer effectively. 

Retailers should also offer omnichannel fulfillment services that not only create a seamless experience but offer customers flexibility and convenience, such as ‘Buy online pick-up in-store’ (BOPIS). 

Get the right tech in place

Having the right digital systems in place so that everything across the business is seamless, connected and organised is key for retailers looking to expand, diversify and unify their sales channels. Investing in the appropriate tools for every part of the customer experience, across every channel, is crucial for ensuring long-term success.

Final thoughts

For retailers looking to gain and retain customers, drive sales and achieve a healthy and consistent growth over the peak sales period and beyond, they must diversify. And the number one area to diversify is among their sales channels. Channel diversification not only gives retailers more opportunities to be in front of customers, giving them more options to buy, but it also provides them with more chances to gather rich customer data. This empowers them to hone, customise and personalise their promotions, offers and interactions, to keep shoppers engaged and coming back for more.

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