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Blog > Amazon > Coronavirus survival tip for eCommerce sellers: Think beyond Amazon

Coronavirus survival tip for eCommerce sellers: Think beyond Amazon

This is a guest post from Zentail. Zentail helps merchants automate listings and manage multi-channel selling. Manage your catalog from one spot and rest easy knowing that you’re in full control over your operations.

“It’s a tough time to be an Amazon marketplace seller,” read a Business Insider article in mid-March calling Amazon the Wild West. After a century of uncontested dominance in ecommerce, Amazon is now more unpredictable than ever.

Amazon sellers are reeling from an ambush of policy changes amid the coronavirus crisis, including FBA’s freeze on non-essentials and new price gouging measures, which have even impacted sellers with fair prices.

Not only have sellers been forced to find new fulfillment options—but many have also been hurtled back to square one. They’re left asking themselves, “How do we keep sales coming in the door?”

For many, the answer to this question has required putting old habits to rest: Amazon can no longer be the core of their business. Rather, Amazon needs to be one of several different marketplaces that are prioritized in order to regain control of business, both now and whenever sweeping changes occur in the future.

Multi-channel sellers outperformed Amazon-only sellers in March

Already, sellers who list their products across multiple marketplaces have had drastically different experiences than those who sell on just one channel.

A recent study by Zentail revealed that sellers with four total sales channels (including a webstore) saw, on average, a 73% increase in GMV in March. By contrast, sellers with just one channel were down 17% in GMV.

The same study compared sales by Amazon-focused sellers against those of multi-channel sellers. Amazon-focused sellers (businesses that only sell on Amazon outside of their own webstore and make more than 50% of their sales from it) saw 24% less sales growth than multi-channel sellers by the end of March.

The slowdown in growth for Amazon-focused sellers coincides with several occurrences between February and March: price gouging issues in February and FBA’s reprioritization to essentials in mid-March. Even though sales started picking back up towards the end of March for these sellers, multi-channel sales were already increasing at a faster rate, as channels like Walmart offered faster delivery or provided an alternative for sellers to offload their inventory while FBA was down.

In fact, Walmart GMV saw a 300% increase in GMV the last week of March at the same time that eBay sales saw 67% growth.

The bottom line: businesses with the greatest advantage today aren’t waiting for Amazon to tell them when and how their sales will be restored. As Business Insider also points out, it doesn’t matter that non-essential items normally make up 60% of total marketplace sales…“in times of chaos like this, it’s up to each individual seller to figure out a survival plan.”

There’s no better time than now to set up a multi-channel approach. If you’re ready to take the jump, here are some things to keep in mind.

Key considerations for going multi-channel

1) You shouldn’t necessarily sell on any or all channels

In fact, Zentail’s research suggests that the “sweet spot” for sellers is four strategically picked channels (including a webstore). After that, the trend takes a turn—sellers with five or more channels saw 60% less GMV growth than sellers with four channels last month.

When you’re going multi-channel, think about your target audience and where they shop. Where does it make sense for you to sell?

2) Some channels are better for branding than others

Google Shopping and Facebook Marketplace are two channels with exceptionally brand-friendly experiences. Google, for example, prominently displays a seller’s logo on every page of the checkout process so buyers will remember your business by name.

3) Every marketplace has its own listing rules

Note that beyond having varying commission rates, each channel has a different way of formatting product data and mapping them to the right categories. What might be categorized as “Men > Clothing > Shirt > Dress Shirts” on Amazon may be categorized as “Clothing > Men > Men’s Clothing > Shirts” on eBay.

For serious sellers, this is why a system that can auto-categorize your listing based on channel can help eliminate listing errors and simplify launch.

4) The process to “get live” is different on each marketplace

Walmart Marketplace, Facebook Marketplace, Google Shopping and Rakuten all require an application, and some have a more in-depth approval process than others. Others have more open-door policies, but still maintain various requirements. For this reason, you’ll want to consider your timing and have an organized rollout plan for going multi-channel.

5) Many marketplaces forbid using Amazon FBA for fulfillment

Using FBA—even multi-channel-fulfillment by FBA—will get you suspended on marketplaces like Walmart. Walmart is even coming out with an FBA competitor, but your best bet is to outsource to a 3PL like Deliverr for greater visibility and brand control over your packages.

6) Watch your inventory

Needless to say, when you’ve got products listed in multiple places at once, you need to have tight control over your inventory. Frankly, the only foolproof way to avoid inaccurate quantities and overselling is by using reliable automation software that can update inventory in real time across multiple sales channels.

7) There’s a way to avoid duplicate work

There’s no greater waste of your time than plugging in the same data over and over again. There are various solutions on the market to assist with this, but as with most things, you get what you pay for. As you evaluate software, make sure to ask about bulk editing tools, customizations and listing error tools. Each of those are incredibly important in giving you flexibility and quality control when it comes to listing.

Simplify the Process with Software

Between listing to fulfillment to inventory management, there are many things to keep in mind as you prepare to go multi-channel. Your best bet is to start with software—don’t save it as an afterthought.

Not only does software like Zentail offer powerful automation to auto-categorize, reprice and monitor your multi-channel listings 24/7, but you also gain the support of seasoned experts who can guide you through the unique quirks of each channel.

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