Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce, the list of marketplaces or platforms to sell on is pretty much endless. With so many different eCommerce platforms out there, it’s hard to know which could benefit your business the most.
At first glance, the variety of options seems like a welcoming opportunity for online sellers.
The more platforms there are, the more sales channels there are and more opportunities to sell. You can reach a larger target audience across multiple platforms, which contain segments of customers who are your target personas. So, providing your listings are optimised, your product or service can generate a large number of impressions and increase your brand awareness.
Marketplaces are established stores with large volumes of consumers transacting through them, making them channels you can instantly begin selling on. However, you will pay the marketplace a substantial commission for this privilege, so you need to have your costs and selling prices in order before adding your products.
One significant advantage of selling on multiple platforms is safety. You won't have 'put all your eggs in one basket' and you can therefore spread the risk, seeing which ones develop and hatch. This way, if you fail on one platform, it doesn't matter too much! You still have plenty of other markets that allow your business to continue being successful.
Utilising the marketplaces and platforms available for your business is becoming increasingly easier to do so, thanks to software, simplicity and API's. However, this increase in demand for a typically lower ROI means you need to be aware of the common issues that this can also bring if you are not prepared.
The 3 main issues to consider when starting to sell your items on multiple marketplaces
When you're an SME business starter or growing go-getter, you're probably still counting every order that comes in. Managing them is easy, regardless of where the order comes from.
As soon as the orders begin to roll in constantly, your processes must adapt and change quickly.
1. Productivity drop
Even though the process of collecting orders from different eCommerce platforms itself might only take an hour, you don't just open the platform once and magically process every order, invoice, label and in just a few clicks.
You've to go back and find the right tab for the correct orders and each platform has its own way of doing so. The process takes time, patience and a lot of understanding.
The time you spend trying to organise the orders isn't necessarily always the most unproductive part. It soon becomes tedious and you gradually switch to autopilot, which is when the mistakes creep in, costing you both time and money.
If the productivity drops, so does the efficiency. And let's be honest, you didn't start your business to organise and process orders all day long.
We've got to face it. Some things are just done better by a machine or software, just like order management. Humans sometimes forget something as they change the routine or get distracted. In contrast, software uses scripts or algorithms that follow specific processes repeatedly, on an automated basis, within seconds.
Not having one system that all your marketplaces or platforms connect to means that you will eventually begin selling stock you no longer have. An uncomfortable position to be in for all parties. Your customer doesn't get their item. You lost a sale and must deal with a disappointed customer
1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.*
3. Double dispatch ing
As a business, sending an item twice to the customer is almost as bad as not sending it at all. Going between platforms increases the chances of these mistakes happening, as you need to check the order invoices / labels etc for each one, most likely every day.
There are costs associated that are obvious here, such as; the cost of the product, packaging, time wasted printing / picking / packing, cost of delivery and so on. One cost that you may not have identified is the “where is my order” call.
Given that the average time a customer service phone call takes is 5 minutes 24 seconds, you can soon understand how this can heavily impact you as a business owner.
Where you have dispatched an order twice and the customer is kind enough to return it, you also must consider the return costs. At this point, the choice is yours: do you want to lose money by letting the customer keep the second item, or do you want to pay for the cost of returning the item?
How to solve these issues across platforms?
The answer is simple: Let someone do the job for you. Or, well, in this case, something.
Having a system that connects all your platforms in one place solves all these common issues that SME's face.
Overselling and double dispatch
If you think about it, most of the mentioned problems were caused by one thing: confusion.
There is too much going on. Too many actions need to be carried out and there is too much information to digest. Full visibility and clarity prevent mistakes of such happening.
By having all of your orders central in one place, you always see what you are sending where, with just one click. If you forgot something or want to double-check, you can do so without the hassle of having to navigate back through each platform.
Check which orders are new, being processed or dispatched.
Finding orders right away
After collecting all orders in one place, filtering them by criteria can help you reduce dispatching orders twice or altogether missing them.
You can filter by the channel they arrived from, the customer or the order ID. Being able to filter orders gives significant advantages in all aspects.
Imagine you having to go back to a specific order. Without having them all collected in one place, you'd have to go to the platform and scroll until you found it.
If it's all in one place, you just need to type in the information you still know about the order, like the date it got created, the customer or even the order number and you'll be able to find the order right away.
Having the option to filter for addresses and name gives you another great advantage. You're now able to combine orders. The same person ordered from you on Amazon and later on Shopify? Combine these two orders and save valuable time and money for the shipment. Not having them together would have cost you loads of time to pack and ship. Besides that, the fewer shipments go out, the less place there is for errors.
Showcased order status
Make sure your system also has an option to show you the status of the order. This minor feature can have a massive impact on the double dispatch problem. As soon you are handling an order, change the status, so nobody else is packing this order. This way, you can also have your progress on site every second of the way.
But what if something goes wrong regardless? Errors can be minimised, but they won't disappear at all. What if you realised too late that you're out of stock, but someone already ordered this specific item?
The least you can do is let your customer know. Everybody makes mistakes. Letting your customer know right away when an error appears doesn't only buy you valuable time to find a solution but also leaves your customer happy. Instead of them calling and you being hung up on a WISMO call, just pop them a message first and change the order status in your order management system to hold. This way you'll be able to find and process the order as soon as the item is back in stock.
Productivity drop who!?
The ability to save time each day will have one of the most significant impacts on running your business successfully.
Besides the fact that reduced errors save valuable time, various other factors can immensely impact the time management aspect.
Instead of taking the time to print the labels and invoices for every single order within each platform, you can now just print a whole batch from just one platform.
It's not just the time you save from going into each platform but the processes that also follow this in which you save time.
Orders are generally then categorised for picking and packing into batches, depending upon the business workflow. They can be done by date of order, product type, product size or weight etc.
Again, this can all be organised from within one platform, helping you manage your workforce efficiently.
Seasonal spikes can be enormous. While you may usually only get 15 orders a day, during the holiday season, you suddenly get 300. You might be prepared for it, but is your order management software too? There is nothing more annoying than waiting for a page to load when you are already stressed out. Having a system that doesn't lack or load for ages, no matter how many orders are flying in, is essential. This way, it doesn´t only connect all your marketplaces for the first 5 years of your business but can become your faithful companion threw out the entirety of your business journey and grow with you.
Managing your orders across multiple platforms may seem like something only an organisational mastermind could handle. Still, we showed that simply rechannelling your orders into one central platform can make all the difference.
Integration is now seamless and you can have all your marketplaces and stores connected within just a few clicks. We'd certainly recommend trying it out but if you still have a few questions around managing marketplaces or eCommerce platforms, reach out to us as we’d be more than happy to assist.
Set up an account with Siid and have all your marketplaces in one place.