Making money through retail these days involves a bit more than just peddling your wares on the corner. You need to embrace digital opportunities to remain competitive, and a lot of that will be about being available to consumers on all possible channels. Leveraging omni-channel approaches properly will drive sales, improve customers’ overall experiences, and develop online visibility. By embracing omnichannel, you have to embrace customer data and segmentation and not be afraid to rethink your business model. Here are five ways retailers can increase engagements and sales online.
Diversify: Marketplace Selling
Think outside the box and sell your products on popular marketplaces – profit margins won’t be huge, but you will get a lot of visibility and a steady source of marketplace income.
Websites like eBay, Amazon and Etsy are great places to amplify visibility and increase traffic to your website or store and they pretty much sell everything. Marketing is done for you, so products that are properly tagged up show up in search results frequently, and money tends to just roll in.
- It isn’t as easy as just listing your products on these sites. Tap into niche avenues where competition is low and profit margins are high.
- Marketplace selling changes fast, and profits will fluctuate.
- This omni-channel approach increases profit and harnesses multiple channels to make more sales.
- Find out how to open your store on a marketplace following these simple steps.
Embrace: Omni-channel Retail
Omni-channel recognizes that a customer’s experience is made up of an array of different channels, from the products they see to the reviews they read online, through social media channels to your online store.
The customer journey is unique and far wider than companies would care to imagine. For your customers to have a truly satisfactory experience, you need to target and support them through all of these different shopping channels effectively.
- Track data from all channels you use within your company. This is a perfect indicator of what channels offer great customer experience and which ones might need improvement. Use real-time inventory management in order to serve customers better wherever they are.
- Branding needs to be consistent across all channels.
- Avoid focusing on one specific channel for too long, all channels must run concurrently and on the same level. If one improves significantly and the others stay the same then it can be counterproductive and look bad for your brand.
- Understand that every process in a customer’s experience is interlinked, all channels need to be acknowledged.
Ecommerce is a great way to make money online, especially if you already run a busy store – and it’s not as hard as it once was.
Transitioning to selling online means enhancing customers’ overall experience of your retail outlet – don’t let it take away from what you’ve already built.
- Ecommerce management encompasses a wide range of solutions for your own online store. For absolute beginners, a hosted platform that allows you to open your first online store in a matter of hours means that anyone with a few products can now become an ecommerce merchant. On the side of the spectrum, you can also invest in custom ecommerce management system and software – but just make sure you choose a system makes sense for you and is the right one for where you are now.
- Make sure your store experience online matches the one that customers love in store – don’t forget the important of great customer service and a friendly face.
- Try to update your print branding for the online world – website design and graphic design are different, so you may need to make subtle tweaks.
Did you know that in the heydays of content marketing and brand mentions, blogging has become a great way to make money online? Retailers and online merchants can embrace the power of content too.
- Build your store’s blogger brand. Curate valuable content on your social media channels and blog that your readers are going to want to read. Post and update regularly to boost visibility and get your brand name out there.
- Once you have a considerable amount of traffic to your blog then you will be able to start making money from it. There are so many different ways to do this, so take a look at how other people make money from their blog. You can use your blog to up your own sales, earn sponsorship income, sell advertising spots and host guest bloggers.
Network: Affiliate Marketing
Earning money through affiliate income has been touted as the ultimate ‘passive income’ dream. It’s not as easy as it looks, but it’s still a solid way to make money online. As an online retailer, you are in the perfect position to earn good money through affiliate marketing because you already understand the psychology of selling.
- You can earn affiliate income on your own domain, on your blog, through your newsletter, on social media, or you could even open a brand new affiliate store or website that sat under your overall brand.
- Merchants can be picky about who they accept as affiliates – make sure your website passes muster. Have a branded media pack ready for bloggers and brands.
- You will need to create a lot of content to make a success of this – affiliate marketing is all about relationships.
- Always openly disclose affiliate links – you can’t mislead the user.
There are so many different ways to make money online as a retailer beyond opening opening your own store. All it takes is a little know-how and some extra effort. Take a look into the different options and go with whatever fits your brand the best.
Do you think that you would ever give any of these suggestions a go? Let me know in the comments below.
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur, coach & writer.