On average, only around 1.94% of eCommerce store visitors convert into buying customers. And that’s a number that can make it hard to sustain an online store long-term, especially with ever-increasing costs of driving targeted traffic to your site.
Sure, a big part of that comes down to how your landing pages are optimized, how relevant your offers are, and whether you make it easy for prospective buyers to contact you with questions.
But another part of the equation is the type of traffic you attract in the first place. Namely, the quality of the prospects that reach your site and the diversity of sales channels you use to generate revenue.
So, which sales channels for eCommerce should you focus on? And how to make sure that you have a diverse range of sales channels that ensures sustainable growth?
Let’s answer these questions below. But first, let’s define what a sales channel in eCommerce really is.
What is a Sales Channel in eCommerce?
A sales channel is a medium or a place where you can display your products and get them in front of targeted audiences interested in buying them. Most eCommerce stores already use at least a couple of sales channels, but few have a comprehensive strategy that takes into account eCommerce sales trends to make more sales and consider the changing buying habits of their ideal customers.
And that’s a recipe for subpar results that can lead to stagnation and even loss of market share to more innovative competitors.
The truth is, the way consumers look for and buy products is constantly evolving. Marketing and sales channels that worked perfectly a few years ago may begin to dry up, and new ones can take their place as audiences learn about new ways to shop and find what they’re looking for.
As an eCommerce business, you must find a way to keep tabs on your audience’s needs and where to get in front of them, experimenting with various approaches and looking for opportunities that the competition hasn’t yet discovered.
How to Choose the Right Sales Channels?
It’s no question that there are more ways to sell your products online than ever before. And while that’s great news because the amount of opportunities you can pursue is always growing, it also means that less experienced online sellers can quickly become overwhelmed with decisions about which paths to pursue and what to focus on.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a seasoned veteran of sales channels to make educated decisions that will put you in a position to succeed, sooner or later.
What you need to do is to look inward, clearly establishing what your eCommerce store is, what are its primary goals, and how you want to position it online. You also need to look externally at the audience you want to reach and think about the shortest and most effective path to getting their attention.
For instance, consider your core sales model. Are you selling products you make yourself, or are you an online store that buys items wholesale and then sells them to the end-consumer?
Or perhaps, you don’t store your own products at all and dropship from a supplier directly to the buyer?
The answer to this question will dictate which sales channels are the most effective for your business model.
Know your audience
Another crucial consideration is where your buyers like to hang out online and shop for products they need. As you can imagine, audiences can significantly differ from one another. Because of that, finding a way to identify where your ideal customers are the most likely to buy is a top priority and something that you will be continually working on for as long as you run an online business.
Finally, as an eCommerce company, you need to consider sales channels in terms of sales potential and how they will reflect on the brand image you are trying to create.
Some sales channels might not be in-line with the public image you want to curate, so while you might miss out on some sales, maintaining an image could be more important.
For instance, if you sell luxury items or want to maintain a high-end brand image, selling on a site like Wish might not be the best approach, as it might lead to being associated with lower quality or knockoff products.
Best Sales Channels for eCommerce
Now that we’ve looked at what sales channels are and the most important considerations when choosing them, let’s explore a few possible options that have proven to be the most effective in the eCommerce world.
Marketplaces are the most straightforward way to make sales online. They have a built-in audience that looks for all kinds of products, and you can usually set up and get started in a matter of days, with minimal costs and challenges.
For instance, if you sell on Amazon, you instantly gain access to an audience of almost 200 million people, as well as the built-in trust of the platform and the ability to have the orders fulfilled by Amazon’s state-of-the-art infrastructure.
However, as a seller on Amazon, you will also face steep competition, limited branding opportunities, and steep fees for every sale you make.
Another popular option is eBay, which also has a strong and active user base and a unique sales model based on auctions. If you can be more flexible with the profit margins on your products, eBay might be a good option that also allows you to make sales quickly.
However, just as with Amazon, you would have fees cutting into your profits, steep competition that often cuts into the profit margins you can expect, and limited ability to showcase your brand.
There are also niche-specific marketplaces that might be viable in your market, but these can be harder to find and vary in quality and reliability.
Using social media has long-reaching advantages for almost any eCommerce business today. You can reach a built-in audience that’s used to interacting with brands, showcase your expertise and unique brand voice, and retarget people who are on the fence about buying from you.
However, social media can be just as powerful as a sales channel as well. In fact, it may become the single best strategy you use that allows maintaining a strong brand and still tapping into an audience that’s ready to buy right now.
For instance, Facebook and Instagram offer direct store integration features, which can be used to integrate your eCommerce website with the platform and make sales directly on the social media page of your brand.
This method helps eliminate many extra steps involved in promoting your store on social media. Users don’t have to leave the platform and go to your site to complete the purchase, which inevitably causes friction and a reduced conversion rate.
Meanwhile, when your store is already part of the social media page your audience loves and follows, purchasing without having to leave and with just a few clicks is a convenience that can persuade a lot of people who were on the fence before.
Paid ads can be incredibly powerful. There probably isn’t another sales channel that can bring you so many sales in such a short amount of time, with the potential to go from setting up the ad from scratch to actively making hundreds of sales in just a few hours or less.
But paid ads also come with significant drawbacks. For one thing, every person who sees and/or clicks on your ad costs money, sometimes a lot, so you need to carefully evaluate how to set up campaigns that are profitable, sustainable, and scalable if you want to use paid ads successfully.
The most common paid ads you could use are advertising on search engines like Google and Bing or advertising on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
You can use advanced tools to narrow down the audience you want to target and automate various parts of the process, allowing the advanced algorithm used by sites like Facebook to ensure that the people seeing your ads are the most likely to take the action you want them to take.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with paid ads is that it’s not something you should expect to succeed from day one.
Running successful ads takes time, so be patient and diligently test your approaches until you find which paid ad platform produces the best results and allows you to scale the easiest.
For most, content is mainly associated with marketing, as it’s a very potent tool for increasing brand awareness and educating your audience. But if you look at it from a broader perspective, it can do all those things while also serving as a valuable sales channel that can help you reach audiences you couldn’t access before.
Let’s explore a few examples that show this in action.
For instance, you could identify the most prominent websites and blogs in your niche, where your ideal customers are the most likely to hang out. Then, you could pitch content ideas that are genuinely helpful and informative, solving common problems your audience faces while also subtly positioning your products as the most effective solution.
Since guest posts allow bylines at the end of each article, you could gain sales from people who read the article and wanted to learn more about your company.
The best part of using this approach is that since you already showcased your expertise, people will be much more likely to trust you. And, the information you presented also might help them decide they need your solution after all.
The ROI email can offer is hard to match. That’s because email offers excellent continuity, allowing you to send targeted and relevant messages to the same subscribers in a sequence that lays out your arguments in the most logical way possible.
But even though email is mostly associated with marketing and educating your audience, it’s a powerful sales tool as well.
When you have a list of customers or people interested in what you have to offer, you can skip many steps that you’d typically need when making sales online. That’s because the people you’re communicating with have expressed an interest themselves by opting in, giving you a lot more leeway in terms of what you can discuss and what types of offers you can make.
What’s more, email is one of the best sales channels for performing split tests and finding the perfect sales messaging for every campaign. You can test out countless variables on smaller segments of your list and then launch broader campaigns with the confidence that they will perform well.
Campaign Monitor was able to increase email click-throughs by a staggering 127% using split tests to redesign their blog emails. And that’s just one example out of thousands that have shown just how effective split testing can be.
Finally, you should always be looking for ways to turn your happy customers into brand ambassadors that can help expand your eCommerce store’s reach and ensure you’re getting in front of as many high-quality and relevant prospects as possible.
If you set up a referral program and incentivize your buyers to share your message with their friends, you will have a much easier time making sales, as the people who see your store being recommended by their friends won’t be as skeptical or hesitant as someone who sees a paid ad.
And you don’t even have to make the incentive something huge. It could be as simple as a 10% discount on their next order, as long as you time the referral offer to come shortly after the purchase, while your brand is still on their mind.
You could send out an email to recent buyers, thanking them for trusting your brand and offering them a discount for every person they refer. This way, you not only encourage them to bring in new buyers but also nudge them towards making multiple sales in your store, increasing their customer lifetime value.
No matter the size of your eCommerce store, finding more sales channels can always help expand your reach and ensure that you sustain stable growth numbers.
And with the sales channels outlined above, you should have a lot of options, which you can choose depending on whether you want to tap into the large audiences in some of the online marketplaces or want to focus on independence and brand-strength as you build a diverse selection of sales channels on your own independent store.