Building an omnichannel retail strategy
Written by Rob Bigler, General Manager of eBay Canada
The modern ecommerce landscape can be challenging, but also full of opportunity. It requires business owners to constantly look for new ways to grow their business.
Particularly for Canadian small businesses, building an omnichannel retail strategy is incredibly important. That omnichannel strategy means not just depending on your website to drive sales, but integrating your business with additional sales channels to grow your pool of potential customers across Canada and worldwide.
At eBay, we work every day with Canadian small businesses who use our platform to access a global marketplace of over 135 million buyers. With that in mind, here are five tips to consider as you build your omnichannel retail business:
1. Consider the marketplace that fits your business
Not all online marketplaces are the same. Each one will have different audiences, policies, fee structures, and more, which will impact whether it’s the right fit for your business.
Start by considering which marketplaces seem to lend themselves to the products you sell. For example, sellers in automotive parts, collectibles, vintage fashion, electronics, or other “hard” retail goods would likely look to eBay.
It’s also worth considering how a marketplace might fit into your overall retail strategy. For most small businesses I speak with, eBay is a means of getting their products to a broader, global audience – most notably to customers in the United States. So, while they build a loyal, local customer base with their storefront or ecommerce site, they look to eBay to provide access to more global customers – 135 million in total.
Finding the marketplaces that work for your business and compliment your overall strategy is a crucial first step.
2. Find the resources and supports available to you
Once you’ve determined which marketplaces align with your business strategy, find the resources they make available for new sellers. Marketplaces offer different tools and supports to help your business grow on their platform. Take advantage of these to help kickstart your business and scale the learning curve more quickly.
For eBay’s part, we’ve made a $500CAD credit for eBay ads available to all sellers joining through Digital Main Street activities, and built a self-guided online course to give you all the tips, tricks, and best practices you need to sell with confidence on eBay. These are tools specifically designed with new sellers in mind – helping them boost their traffic early on and start to list their items with confidence.
No matter what the offer is, it’s worth taking time to explore (or ask) what a marketplace can do to help you get started.
3. Determine your global strategy
For most small businesses using an online marketplace like eBay, the goal is to access global customers. But it can also be intimidating to hear that eBay allows you to access 135 million active buyers in 190 different markets.
That’s why we always encourage sellers to prioritize their international markets.
We always suggest starting with the United States, which represents roughly 50% of all eBay Canada sales. Shipping to the United States is quite similar to shipping within Canada, and it’s the largest economy in the world – right at your front door.
Once you look beyond the United States and Canada, consider how your business policies will have to adapt. While you might offer free shipping or returns within North America, that may not be feasible to customers in Germany or New Zealand. Marketplaces like eBay will allow you to develop different policies around pricing, carriers, and returns for different markets.
4. Consider third-party tools to integrate your business
Operating your business on both an ecommerce site and online marketplace can require some organization – adding listings, managing orders, ensuring you aren’t selling duplicates, and more.
Fortunately, there are third-party services designed to help you integrate your marketplace account with your ecommerce dashboard. Using these services, you can add and edit eBay listings directly from your ecommerce dashboard, determine how much inventory to add in various marketplaces, and avoid the possibility of selling an item on one channel that was already sold in another.
5. Always look for ways to improve
It can be easy to think of online retail as being static after you’ve added your listings. However, maximizing your success as a business requires you to always look for ways to improve and optimize your listings, policies, and strategy.
Research tools like Terapeak or eBay’s Listing Quality Report can help give you a sense of the market landscape for particular products – enabling you to optimize your pricing, shipping policies, and even tweak aspects of your listing based on insights from successful sales. Make the most of these tools to ensure your pricing is competitive and that your item is generating as much traffic as possible.
There are also often ways to promote your items directly in marketplaces – through branded stores, newsletters, or social media integrations. This is also where eBay’s $500 credit for eBay ads can come in handy. Actively reviewing your marketing campaigns and promoting your products is crucial to generating consistent sales.
Above all, the most important thing to do is get started. Familiarizing yourself with different platforms, building trust with buyers, and determining best practices for your business all take time, and -as any successful small business owner will tell you- the best way to learn is by doing.