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What to look for in multichannel ecommerce software

24 December 2019

By Geoff Ainsworth

Geoff is the Director of Technology at Upp. He contributes posts on the present and future of retail technology.

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As an ecommerce seller, it’s vital that you are using a multichannel approach. Because consumer purchase habits have now changed and they are making purchases on the go, they expect a seamless experience that accommodates this. A multichannel approach can help with achieving this. 

In order for brands to reach a larger pool of customers, they need to have perfected their multichannel strategy. This will not only help brands reach their current market on a larger number of platforms but it will allow brands to reach a wider audience. For various reasons, people tend to choose platforms they like and buy products there. Some people will pretty much only buy things on Amazon, for example. So, by not adopting a multichannel approach, you’ll miss out on those customers because they won’t come to your website to buy what you're selling.

Every ecommerce seller realises sooner or later that it makes sense for them to make the most of opportunities that lie beyond their own website. With channels out there such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, to name but a few, a multichannel approach is easily the best one for you to opt for.

Effectively leveraging multiple online sales channels isn’t easy though. You need to maximise your sales effectively but you’ll struggle to do that without the possibilities and opportunities offered by multichannel ecommerce software. This software should offer you a variety of things and it’s important to assess them closely before deciding which is right for you — which is what we’re going to help you with today.

You’ll also need to think about PIM (Product Information Management), which is what every form of good multichannel distribution relies on. It’s all about the process of handling data and other material needed to sell products and keeping it consistent across platforms. This might include things like product data, design and tech specs, marketing data, images, videos, documents, sales information as well as channel-specific information.

Some of the features we’re about to discuss are more common than others. Every ecommerce enterprise has its own specific set of needs, so you won’t necessarily need every feature we’re going to discuss. However, the best possible results will be delivered by receiving the benefits of them all. Find out more about them below.

 

1. Single Source of Truth Data

The Single Source of Truth concept is about making sure that the information your business uses is consistent and reliable. Having a single point of data is vital when you’re looking to sell the same products across a variety of different platforms. Without that, there would be inconsistencies and potential problems for customers, which is not what you want.

You need to use a multichannel ecommerce software that allows you to pull all data to a single place as well, and this is something that should be done automatically. You can then create coherent and sensible plans that are based on the data that’s made readily and easily available to you by the software you use. It’s something you certainly need to look for in a multichannel ecommerce software.

Gaining insights into your sales successes and failings will help you to make improvements going forward. But that’ll only be possible if you’re able to pull all of that data to a single place from various sources and then assess it there. It makes your life so much easier.

 

2. Channel Specific Insights

It’s a good idea to look for a software platform that offers channel specific insights. One of the reasons why multichannel ecommerce is so tricky is that all of the platforms have different listing requirements. Products have to be listed in different ways according to the rules set out by the people running each platform, and they don’t use consistent listing guidelines, unfortunately for you.

Meeting all of the relevant channel requirements can be tricky, especially in the case of Google Shopping, which is known to be troublesome. That’s why it’s important that you have software that can pull data requirements for each platform and deliver them to you.

This will allow you to make sure that all of your listings are being posted in the correct and proper way and that problems don’t arise further down the line. 

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3. Automation, Automation, Automation

Automation should be offered in abundance by the multichannel ecommerce software you choose. There’s rarely such a thing as too much automation when it comes to multichannel ecommerce. It allows you to keep everything running smoothly. All you need are a range of relevant checks and balances to make sure that people get alerted when manual decisions need to be made. 

Using automation to your advantage also means being able to spend more time on the other aspects of running your ecommerce store. There’s a variety of tasks you’ll need to complete and having as much time to spend on them as possible is a great position to be in. Why waste time on things that can be easily automated anyway? No ecommerce business owner or manager has time to waste.

There are various kinds of automation that the best multichannel ecommerce software solutions can offer. Things like automated form fills, optimisation, categories for greater flexibility, formatting and updating listings across various channels at once are all possible. The last one is particularly important because you need things like pricing, availability and category changes to be consistent across all channels.

 

4. Broad Reach of Customer Data

It’s helpful to be able to view customer data in a way that’s easy and straightforward. That’s why you should look for a multichannel ecommerce software solution that enables you to gather customer information from a range of different channels before pulling it together in one place. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to review it and act on it easily.

It’s also a good idea to look for a software platform that allows you to pull information from the whole internet because you can then augment direct customer data that’s so often lost through many third-party interactions. The more data you have at your disposal, the better and having a wide variety of sources and overall broad reach is certainly beneficial to your business.

It’s important to remember that it’s not just data from your own customers that matters. You also need to think about how the data from other people and their search habits can help you identify trends better. You can then use this information to understand which fashion items customers are buying at any given time. You do that by embracing as much data as you can from a variety of worthwhile sources. Be sure to keep this in mind when selecting a multichannel ecommerce software option.

 

5. AI Driven Analysis of Data

Having a lot of data at your disposal is only helpful if you really know what to do with it. It’s vital to have suitable and productive ways of analysing it — AI-driven solutions offer the best ways to do that. Machine learning and AI have come a very long way and it can be used to analyse data quickly and easily, even when there are huge amounts of it that need to be understood. Find a software solution that can pull actionable insights from it without all that much input from you.

Manual processing isn’t an option anymore. At least, it’s not an option if you want to analyse the breadth of data that you need to in order to find out more about your audience and how to sell more products to your target demographics. AI can achieve much more in a very short space of time and it leaves you with more time to spend on other vital aspects of running your ecommerce business, which is never a bad thing.

This AI should be directly integrated into the ecommerce software you use because that’s what makes it easier for you to use and benefit from, which will aid your decision-making and speed up processes. You won’t have to worry about transferring data or insights from one platform to another, leaving you more time for creative decision-making and improving your overall ecommerce campaign. 

 

Pick the right multichannel ecommerce software for your business

It’s vital that when picking a multichannel ecommerce software that does everything your business needs, as we have discussed above. The basics that this software should be doing is making automation easy for you, so you don’t have to spend time and energy manually updating product data. 

Artificial intelligence and actionable insights are other features included in certain ecommerce platforms which can help improve your campaigns and greatly increase the efficiency of your ecommerce strategies. 

These unique features are included in Upp’s ecommerce software, which not only helps your campaign to run more smoothly, but also pulls in data from your many ecommerce channels into a single place, allowing you to more easily utilise data analytics. This data can then help coordinate your campaigns and make decisions on each channel. Whatever your exact business needs and whichever software you choose, this will help you organise and enhance your multichannel ecommerce approach.

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