Today’s post comes courtesy of business software consultant Ted Hosford
With massive online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay capturing a large percentage of shopping traffic, it’s important to build a variety of storefronts to reach the biggest audience. Multiple ecommerce stores also allow you to customize your marketing efforts and reach different demographics without watering down your branding. However, running four or five different storefronts also increases the amount of work related to order management, customer service and search optimization. You will need to develop some kind of system for managing all of the websites without letting any of them drop out of circulation. Consider trying one of these five methods for using a multi-pronged approach to ecommerce.
If you only have one body of products to sell, you may want to use your other storefronts as simple doorways. Google defines these websites as simple setups that only exist to direct traffic to the main website. Amazon has settings to allow you to list your products in their search and create a pseudo-storefront that sends searchers to your self-hosted product pages. Unfortunately, these doorways tend to rank lower than the primary site in search rankings, according to the Webmaster Guidelines from Google. This will work best if you are trying to reach consumers that frequent certain sources rather than just capturing more search traffic.
Companies that need distinct and separate storefronts to sell drastically different products can invest in a powerful but expensive multi-front system. This is a content management system that is installed on your hosting space that allows you to run one massive website with a series of fronts that appear completely separate. Gap Inc. is a good example of this type of business, according to UpShot Commerce. Their store brands include Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. None of your customers will know that the different storefronts are related unless you advertise the fact. These systems are only useful if you plan to host all of the various fronts yourself. They rarely include support for integrating an eBay or Amazon store.
Hiring someone to handle the management of each storefront is one way to reduce the workload that falls on your shoulders alone. You can do this through a virtual assistant program or one of the many networks that connects business owners with freelance designers and web managers. You will still need to monitor the work of your helper and guide their efforts and you’ll be responsible for paying their wages even if the storefront they manage isn’t resulting in very many sales, warns Pingler.com.
Order Management System
If you can handle the product listing and marketing processes already, consider just using a complete order management system to compile the information from all of your storefronts in one location. Although these systems primarily help you track and fulfill orders, many options have dozens of other helpful management features. Some even integrate your marketing and analytics efforts for all of your sites. Optimum7 says that these systems are not limited to managing hosted websites, with integration offered for a variety of ecommerce platforms.
The old-fashioned way may work if you deal with fewer orders and higher profits from each one. There are thousands of spreadsheets available to help you track sales, marketing efforts, visibility and restocking across dozens of different platforms. Even the smallest businesses will quickly find this method overwhelming and time-consuming. If you are serious about ecommerce success, invest in a system that will help you achieve your goals.
About the Author
Ted Hosford has extensive experience with business software systems development. He consults businesses on their software needs and shares his insights on various blogs. Visit Ordoro.com for more tailor made software solutions for your business.