What is Multichannel Marketing? For someone new to ecommerce, and even those that have been around for awhile, it is something that you must understand and use in today's ever-growing, ever-changing online marketplace. It's a must if you want to be seen and build a customer base of your own.
Now back to the question: What is multichannel marketing? Defining multichannel marketing and selling has taken a new twist in recent years, but the end result is the same for merchants - getting products in the hands of potential customers. Prior to the advent of ecommerce, merchants had two basic options: brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs. Reaching a new customer base was incumbent on an entrepreneur franchising his retail store, or getting his company's catalogs in front of new shoppers. Ecommerce opened a new sales channel for merchants; launch a website and you can suddenly sell to a global marketplace. As the cost to enter the ecommerce market dropped, many entrepreneurs bypassed brick-and-mortar stores and catalogs altogether, preferring to launch a virtual store online.
Recent developments within the ecommerce tract have created two new dynamic sales channels. Beyond a basic website, a merchant can now sell in public marketplaces such as OnlineAuction.com, Amazon and Overstock.com, as well as tapping into a multitude of shopping comparison sites like GoogleProducts, Epinions.com and others.
Some people define multichannel selling as a combination of brick-and-mortar, catalog and Internet activity. Others say multichannel selling can be defined as sales within the various online channels: single website, public marketplaces and shopping comparison sites. Any way you define it, tapping into multiple sales channels can increase opportunities for additional sales, as well as help expand your brand's recognition.
Multichannel Marketing offers companies the ability to reach customers who may have had a difficult time finding a specific website. It allows companies to take a brand or product, that does not necessarily have national or international recognition, to an environment which buyers are evaluating products and are, in most cases, ready to buy. This increases exposure to shoppers who can learn about your company, brand or products. Public marketplaces like OnlineAuction.com bring millions of shoppers to their sites. Shopping comparison sites also serve as a powerful tool to connect buyers and products.
The number one thing a merchant needs to remember is that as big as the ecommerce industry is today, it still has much more growth potential. Forester Research estimates that the market penetration is still less than 20 percent. So, if your question is, "Is there still room for me?," or "Can I be as successful as those that have been doing it for years?," the answer is "yes." The great thing is that the paths have been paved for you. All you need to do is follow them to find success.
The industry is ever-changing. New, different and better things are always being developed to make it easier to find and meet the needs of your prospective customer. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to these and the industry will consider you a leader and innovator.
James Mc Allister is the VP of Operations at OnlineAuction.com.
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