Mastering Multi-Channel Distribution, the key. Amazon appears to be single-handedly taking over the retail world, but what’s less well known is that a good portion of the products displayed on Amazon’s endless pages are actually offered up by more than 2 million third-party sellers, some of which are the manufacturers themselves.
Of course, Amazon still offers its own inventoried goods for sale, but increasingly, e-commerce giants such as Walmart and Alibaba function like shopping malls, renting out their real estate and charging fees to individual sellers. These individual sellers focus on reaching customers on the major marketplace platforms and also beyond their borders.
In the constant battle to grow sales and market share, manufacturers of consumer goods must master multichannel distribution. While Amazon’s marketplace is and will remain a great distribution channel, independent manufacturers and sellers don’t have much control over the Amazon retail experience due to the company’s selling policies and therefore do not own their customer relationships.
How Independent Sellers And Manufacturers Can Master Multichannel Distribution
Today’s world has evolved to enable many independent sellers to pursue multichannel strategies and to more easily distribute products on digital channels independent of Amazon. The commerce enablement solutions available today, such as what we offer at GearLaunch, and what other services like Shopify and ChannelReply offer, provide sophisticated transactional infrastructure and access to both a supply of products and customer acquisition channels, all of which were previously unavailable at a reasonable cost. These modern software solutions allow independent sellers and manufacturers to focus on their strengths, outsourcing complex and otherwise expensive back-office tasks.
Alternatively, sellers and manufacturers could set up their own platforms, but if you’re planning on going this route, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to consider processes for sourcing, inventory management, customer service, merchandising, warehousing and merchant processing, just to name a few.
As a seller or manufacturer, once you have these solutions in place, it’s time to master distribution. There are many easy-to-learn digital advertising platforms today that allow for micro-targeting of niche audiences, the most popular of which are offered by Facebook and Google. Facebook’s toolset is somewhat simpler and provides immense opportunity to target specific audiences based on relevant likes and interests.
Additionally, sellers can engage existing customers with email marketing through MailChimp, retarget all site visitors through AdRoll and, of course, publish their product listings to the largest online marketplaces. The key to success is simply knowing your target customer and applying that knowledge when using the various distribution tools available.
Some independent e-commerce sellers are manufacturers of products themselves. Many are based in China and run factories from which they ship goods directly to buyers across the globe. Manufacturers have much to gain from the recent evolution of the commerce landscape: Technology has greased their wheels, enabling direct distribution on an ever-expanding number of highly effective channels.
Technology has not only given manufacturers more direct distribution points but also has enabled a growing army of independent third-party sellers to help them do so. By utilizing robust sourcing and distribution channels and following the steps outlined above, sellers and manufacturers can unlock more potential in creating successful e-commerce businesses.
As a result of this evolution, the world of commerce is becoming more advanced by the day, fueled by improved access for sellers and manufacturers of all sizes. Independent entrepreneurs and manufacturer retailers will be a large part of the future e-commerce growth story. Each party in the value chain — suppliers, merchants, buyers — are able to focus more energy on their core strengths, adding fuel to the fire.