You’re Not the Easter Bunny: Going Multichannel with Your Ecommerce Business

Putting all your eggs in one basket is fine if you’re the Easter Bunny. But when it comes to running your ecommerce business? Not so much. Nowadays, the smart move is going multichannel. Here’s why and how.

Why Go Multichannel?

First of all, business on any given ecommerce platform is going to ebb and flow over time. It’s just the nature of the retail beast. If you sell on multiple platforms, chances are your sales will remain steadier overall.

Furthermore, if you sell through only one channel, your business is entirely dependent on that channel. If something goes wrong — for example, an eBay site glitch — there goes your entire revenue stream. And if your one marketplace changes their rules, as happens on eBay at least twice a year, it could take you days or even weeks to get compliant and back up to speed. Time is money in ecommerce, so delays are costly!

Selling via a single channel also means that you reach only a limited segment of the market, i.e., potential customers for your products. By selling via more than one ecommerce platform, you’re going to reach a wider audience. That alone is going to boost sales and grow your brand.

In fact, a recent study showed that retailers who sell on just two separate online platforms saw a 190% increase in revenue over those selling in only one marketplace. Those who sold from their own website and added a marketplace channel increased revenue by an average of 38%, while adding two marketplace channels bumped it up by 120%!

It’s just simple common-sense math. Not all shopping journeys follow the same path; some people start with a Google search, while others go straight to Amazon or eBay. Buyers also are not necessarily loyal to a single channel. Chances are they’ll check more than one before they make a purchase. The more ways and places that would-be customers can find you, the more opportunities they’ll have to buy from you.

In addition, studies show that multi-channel shoppers — those who interact with your company through more than one channel — buy more overall than those who engage with your company using only a single channel.

Finally, especially if you sell only on your own website, driving traffic can be a challenge (and expensive, too). Marketplace sites have built-in traffic. Many shoppers prefer marketplaces because they offer conveniences that a single-merchant site cannot.

How to Go Multichannel: The Nuts & Bolts

So now you’re sold on the idea of taking your ecommerce business multichannel. But where to begin?

Start by prioritizing channels. Not all marketplaces will work equally well for your particular brand. You’ve got to consider each available option from two sides:

  1. Are your target customers going to be there?
  2. Does that marketplace offer acceptable terms for doing business there?

For example, if you sell handmade and/or vintage goods, you probably want to be on Etsy. If speed of delivery is your top priority, consider Amazon. For a marketplace that meets all of the above criteria, eBay is likely to be your best bet.

Look at the demographics for each marketplace as well as their terms of service. Each channel you select should work for your business model, industry, and target market.

At the same time, it’s important to realize and prepare for the fact that whatever new channel(s) you decide to add, you’re going to have to meet certain logistical challenges. The most obvious and important of these is keeping your inventory synced up across channels. More opportunities to make sales means more chances to over-sell or find yourself short-stocked.

Don’t even think of trying to do what some small sellers of unique items make the mistake of attempting: namely, manually removing each item that sells on one ecommerce platform from all the other platforms where it’s listed. That doesn’t even work well for casual sellers!

No matter how small or hobbyish your business may seem to you, it is still a business. So you need to handle it accordingly. And if you’re already thinking with your business hat on (because that’s just how you roll), then you’ll immediately understand why it’s time to find a multichannel selling tool that will enable you to manage your business from a single centralized location — from listing to shipping and fulfillment to managing customer relations.

Remember: More sales means more packages to be shipped in an appropriately timely fashion — not to mention more returns to process — while more customers means more potential problems to resolve plus a general increase in the volume of customer communications, including feedback, shipping notifications, etc.

Multichannel selling tools such as SixBit Software, inkFrog Channel Advisor offer a variety of plans to suit your business (and grow with you), and most offer a free trial as well. So don’t be afraid to try more than one. But do start auditioning multichannel selling tools ASAP, before you get in over your head and harm your business’ reputation with customers and/or any of your new selling channels due to late shipping, stock-outs, or other growing pains.

In addition to finding a user interface you like, be sure your multichannel selling software enables you to generate essential reports measuring the health of your business. To get the whole picture, you should also check your marketplace dashboards on a weekly and monthly basis.

Last but not least, bear in mind that going multichannel doesn’t mean just listing your items on additional ecommerce marketplaces, sitting back, and waiting for sales to roll in. You’ll need to test, tweak, and optimize those listings for each channel.

For best results, you’ll also need to develop a multichannel marketing strategy…which is a topic for a whole ‘nother article! For now, let’s just say that you’ll need to extend your brand’s messaging to encompass your new selling channels.

In sum, what advantages and benefits can you expect to reap by going multichannel with your ecommerce business? Let’s look at what your ecommerce peers recently had to say:

  • 75% of companies surveyed said that going multichannel increased sales
  • 64% said that going multichannel increased customer loyalty
  • 62% said that going multichannel gave them a competitive advantage

Now stop running your ecommerce business like the Easter Bunny. Go multichannel — the way your customers are already shopping!

Essential Analytics for Your BigCommerce Business

As an ecommerce business owner on the BigCommerce platform, you need to make decisions based on facts, not guesswork. That means effectively analyzing your sales data, including drilling down into the details that matter most in order to successfully grow your business. This has not been easy to do with BigCommerce — until now.

Enter PayHelm. PayHelm enables you to analyze sales data from BigCommerce across multiple selling channels and accounts. With PayHelm, you can determine where your global sales are coming from overall or for any given product. And that’s just for starters.

PayHelm lets you analyze your products by total sales; brand; SKUs; orders; and/or average price. What’s more, with PayHelm, you can filter sales data by time frame to compare performance. You can even filter by keyword for a deep dive into product performance.

But PayHelm goes beyond merely analyzing sales data. This multifaceted new app also offers account management capabilities, including linking multiple seller accounts and linking to PayPal for even more details. In addition, you can invite staff members to view your account(s) while controlling access, i.e., who can see what.

Once PayHelm has generated your desired reports, you can easily save, manage, and export the resulting charts and data in a convenient CSV format.

Best of all, you can do all this for anywhere you sell via BigCommerce!

BigCommerce’s Channel Manager makes multi-channel selling easier than ever before via built-in integrations with Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google Shopping, Instagram, and Pinterest. Because today’s customers shop more places than ever before.

That’s where PayHelm comes in: When you take your multi-channel listings to the next level, PayHelm is there to tell you what’s working best and most profitably for your ecommerce business.

Furthermore, PayHelm does more than analyze sales data. It also gives you SaaS subscriber metrics, allowing you to check on monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and customers’ lifetime value (LTV); analyze churn by price points; and even pinpoint your most-likely-to-churn customers.

Additionally, PayHelm enables you to set up automated post-purchase email campaigns. You can choose from among a variety of templates, then determine the rules and timing of your communications with customers. PayHelm even lets you set up social media profiles for your email marketing.

Statistics show that there’s never been a better time to sell online. Ecommerce sales have grown steadily over the past decade; by 2025, ecommerce sales in this country are predicted to equal 25% of all retail sales in the USA. In 2019 alone, online retail sales of physical goods totaled $365.2 billion. Projected online retail sales for 2020 total $419.9 billion, while by 2024, the annual U.S. online retail gross is estimated to be nearly $600 billion.

Your BigCommerce business deserves a healthy slice of that profitable pie. But in order to manage and grow that business, you’ve got to know your numbers. PayHelm not only enables you to know those numbers, it also lets you crunch them in innovative ways to reveal essential facts about the health of your business.

In a retail world that’s becoming ever more complex, PayHelm cuts through the metrics chatter with straightforward, in-depth analytics plus business-building CRM functionalities.

How to setup BigCommerce & PayHelm

It is very quick & easy to setup and install BigCommerce into your PayHelm Analytics Dashboard. Simply find the PayHelm app, click install, click agree to our terms, then watch the PayHelm progress bar do a backfill of your transaction history so we can build your Analytics Dashboard. The backfill process should take less than a minute to complete. While you are waiting you can additionally link PayPal or other BigCommerce stores into your unified Dashboard.

Step 1: Install the PayHelm App

Step 2: Agree to the Terms & Conditions

Step 3: Wait for the data to load

Step 4: Link more channels

Step 5: Dashboard is ready to go

Why You Should Do a SWOT Analysis for Your Shopify Business

swot infographic analysis, colors graphic stats vector illustration

Whether you’re just starting out in ecommerce or are already an established etailer, nothing helps you to assess the lay of the land like a SWOT analysis. Developed back in the 1960s, this simple but powerful tool continues to prove itself invaluable for charting business objectives and developing successful strategies.

Appropriate times to conduct a SWOT analysis include the startup of a new enterprise, the beginning of a new year or quarter, evaluation of a potential new project, or any time a review of your business seems to be in order.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats: the 4 areas examined by this form of strategic analysis. Strengths and Weaknesses refer to internal characteristics of the business — things over which you have control and can change, such as product mix and reputation — whereas Opportunities and Threats are external, e.g., changes in the marketplace.

A SWOT analysis is most easily depicted as a grid matrix containing organized lists of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in their respective quadrants. This enables you to view your business in new ways, from new directions. Then you can plan to leverage its strengths and weaknesses so as to take advantage of opportunities and ward off threats.

How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis

For best results, a SWOT analysis should involve everyone in the company and incorporate various perspectives. If you’re a one-man band or a mom-and-pop shop, consider recruiting friends or fellow sellers familiar with your business; your accountant; vendors; and/or even customers, if you know any well enough to ask them. The key is to bring together different points of view.

Once you’ve got your team together, asking a few simple questions can help you get started.

Determine Your Strengths

Let’s begin with Strengths. Those are basically defined as positive attributes, both tangible and intangible. Ask yourself and your team members:

  • What does your company do especially well? (Customer service, perhaps?)
  • What resources do you have? (Think expertise, credentials, knowledge, and skills as well as product lines, exclusive distribution deals, customer base, etc.)
  • What advantage(s) do you have over your competition? (For example, is your branding particularly strong or well known?)
  • What is your business’ USP — unique selling proposition?

Admit Your Weaknesses

What are the aspects of your business that come up short? For example:

  • What processes need to improve? (Do you need to cut handling time from 3 days to 1 in order to ship faster?)
  • What resources does your business lack? (Do you need a VA to create listings, so you can concentrate on sourcing and shipping?)
  • What factors within your control limit your ability to be competitive? (Are poor product photos costing you sales? Is your cash flow insufficient for investing in a new line of hot merchandise?)

Identify Opportunities

Once you’ve reviewed your business’ internal workings, turn your mental magnifying glass outward. Look for favorable external factors that could impact your business and contribute to its success:

  • Is the market for your product(s) growing?
  • Are there any trends emerging that would encourage people to buy more of your product(s)?
  • What’s happening in the marketplace that could represent an opportunity for your business?

Evaluate Threats

Finally, look at negative external factors:

  • Who are your existing or potential competitors?
  • Are marketplace trends liable to hurt your business? (e.g., is the fidget spinner fad dying off?)
  • What factors beyond your control could place your business at risk? (Might you lose a product line, for example, or could new technology make a popular item obsolete?)

Turn SWOT Results into Strategies

Once you’ve diagrammed your SWOT lists, look for ways you can use your company’s strengths to make the most of opportunities and minimize threats. Then figure out how to use the opportunities you identified to minimize your business’ weaknesses and avoid the threats.

Why You Need to Think Like a Buyer

Remember the old saying that to catch a thief, you must think like a thief? The same approach works for snaring Shopify shoppers. The more you understand how your buyers think, the easier it will be to sell them your items — and the better you will become at doing so.

Buy, Buy, Baby

Start by buying a few things on your store. Any items will do, but you can score a double whammy if you buy something from a competitor: In addition to analyzing your reactions to the transaction, you’ll find out what kind of buying experience your competition gives.

Once you’ve got several buyer experiences under your belt, note what you liked and didn’t like about each transaction, from finding and purchasing the item all the way through to receiving and unboxing it. (Be sure to leave feedback for your sellers!)

Keywords Are Key

For starters, what made you click on a particular listing?

It probably was the title, which came up in search results based on what you typed into the search field — i.e., your keywords. What keywords would a buyer use to find your item? Those words should be in your title.

Look at Sold items to see which keywords seem to sell most effectively. If you need more inspiration, try Google’s free Keyword Planner. Or just check out Amazon’s search bar, which suggests additional keywords when you type in an initial query.

1 Picture = 1,000 Words

Another reason you clicked on a certain listing may have been its gallery picture. What kinds of photos were in the listings from which you purchased? Do they spark any ideas you could apply to photographing your own items, such as an eye-catching pose? Remember, don’ts can be as useful as do’s

Avoiding SNADs (Items Significantly Not As Described)

Now let’s move on to the description. Does yours answer all of the questions a potential buyer might ask? When you get questions from buyers, do you consider adding the answers to your description? You should.

If you asked questions during your own buying journey, were the answers prompt, professional, and to the point? Yours should be.

When it comes to describing an item, thinking like a buyer means addressing that item’s benefits as well as its features. What need is a buyer looking to fill, and how does your product serve that need? For example, if you’re selling a bed pillow, you’ll want to list its dimensions but also emphasize the good night’s sleep it provides.

Customer Service is Crucial

Next, consider terms of sale. Did you buy anything from a seller whose listing was full of negative verbiage? And how do you feel about buying from a seller who doesn’t accept returns? Did you prefer your purchases to include free shipping?

Just like Mother always told you, it’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. Keep your terms of sale simple and positive.

Allowing returns boosts buyer confidence. If you can offer free returns, so much the better; then buyers can shop risk free. The increased sales volume you’ll gain will more than offset the cost of accepting returns, free or not.

As for free shipping, think like a buyer again: Do you enjoy doing math, or would you rather see just one cost for an item?

If you’re not sure you can afford to do free shipping, try an A-B test: List an item with free shipping (i.e., with the shipping cost folded into the price) and without (i.e., with the shipping cost as a separate line item). See which sells best.

The Unboxing Experience

Finally, when your store’s purchases arrived, how were they packaged? A well-packed and attractively presented item invariably makes a better impression than that same item tossed any which way into a used pizza box.

Making Social Media Pay Off for Your Business on Shopify

You’ve probably heard that your business on Shopify should have a social media presence. But what you may not realize is just how important that presence really is to your business’ success. Here are some key statistics:

  • 77% of all Americans use social media*
  • Last year, the number of worldwide social media users reached 3.196 billion — up 13% from 2017*
  • 89% of all businesses report increased market exposure thanks to social media**
  • 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase from social media referrals**

Let’s face it: Your customers are social. Millions of people use social media every day to share their passions with the world and connect with what they love. Here are seven strategies for making your business on Shopify part of the conversation and turning followers into buyers.

1. Be authentic. Consider your target audience and how you can connect with it; then stay true to yourself as a seller and a person to build trust and credibility.

2. Consider your options. Think about the purpose(s) for which people use the various social media platforms. Take some time to explore each of those channels before deciding where to start. In general, people use:

  • Facebook for keeping in touch
  • Instagram for telling stories through photos
  • Pinterest for sharing interests
  • Twitter for breaking news
  • YouTube for videos

3. Create separate accounts for your business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. You don’t have to start using all of them at once — in fact, you shouldn’t — but you want to stake a claim on your brand identity before somebody else snaps up your desired username.

 4. Start small. For example, create a Facebook business page. Focus on one channel and on activities that are likely to give you the best return on your time invested. What you’re building isn’t just a brand presence, but a reputation, so it pays to learn to walk before you try to run. Read more than you post, too, so you develop an ear (or an eye) for how people communicate via each channel.

5. Listen and engage. Contribute to the conversation by posting fresh, interesting content on a regular basis. For example, if you sell jewelry on Shopify, you might write about the latest trends in jewelry styles.

But don’t oversaturate your feed, and don’t spam followers with product posts. Follow the 3:1 rule: 3 content posts for every shared Shopfy product or other product post. Be sure to also take time to listen to what people may be saying about your business on social media, and respond promptly to any comments or questions.

Remember to keep it professional! This is business, so don’t be controversial. Limit expressions of your personal beliefs and opinions, such as political posts, to your personal account.

6. Cross-promote. Once you’ve established your business’ presence on multiple social media platforms, post your YouTube videos on your Facebook business page, or share a link to your Pinterest boards on Twitter.

7. Don’t expect instant results. It takes time to build a presence on any social media channel. As long as you consistently and regularly post interesting content, your follower count will continue to grow. Your followers will share your posts with their followers, and your customer base will expand accordingly.

**’s Global Social Media Research Summary

Getting Your Ecommerce Business Ready for Q1

It’s the start of the new year’s first month — the first month of the first quarter. You’d better be sure that your ecommerce business is ready! That means having concrete, measurable goals in mind for Q1. Quarterly goals are crucial for your business, because taken together, they add up to the annual goals you’ve set.

In fact, Fast Company (the world’s leading progressive business magazine) says that setting 90-day goals is usually more successful as well as easier to achieve, because those goals feel more immediate and attainable. That conveniently aligns with the four-quarter business year.

Off to a Good Start

When it comes to goals for any new year, the first quarter is always particularly significant, because it sets the pace for that year. Q1 lays the foundation on which to base the rest of the year; it also sets the groundwork in place for eventually meeting or adjusting your annual goals and metrics. 

Some factors don’t change much from year to year. In general, January is a slow period following the holiday hurly-burly. This is the time you should try to clear out all of your leftover holiday items with steep discounts and markdowns. Christmas sells all year round in ecommerce, but unless Christmas is one of your niches, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to see those products in your store for the next several months. Mark them down, get them sold, and move on to bringing out new stock for the new year!

Now is also the time to take notes on what worked — and what didn’t work — during the 2018 holiday selling season. Did your marketing prove to be effective? Did you have too much in stock, or not enough? How should you adjust your purchase orders for 2019?

This is also the time for a financial review of your ecommerce business overall: everything from 2018’s cash flow and profit and loss statements to projecting year-end sales to getting organized for tax time. Review your income and expenses; analyze your business’ performance in 2018, and decide which areas need tweaking. For example, do you need to adjust what you spent on inventory? 

Take a look at last year’s goals as well; did you achieve them, exceed them, or fall short?

Know Your Numbers

The most essential metrics for any ecommerce business owner to keep an eye on are total sales revenue; gross and profit margins; overhead costs; and monthly profits or losses. You should know these numbers and set very specific goals for the new year based on your size and product mix. Maybe you want to grow sales by 5% year over year, or grow revenue by 10%. Review your desired goals and revise them according to the results of your financial analysis and income statements; then prepare a plan and set a budget for achieving them.

Whatever your goals turn out to be for the first quarter of this new year — and for the year itself — make sure you put them in writing as part of your 2019 business plan. You can always adjust your annual goals as the year unfolds, but if you don’t have concrete, measurable goals in place from Q1 on, then your ecommerce business cannot grow and prosper.