Marketing science has proven that for your brand to grow you need to do two fundamental things:
- Increase mental availability (get more people to think of your brand in a buying situation).
- Increase physical availability (have your brand in as many places as possible where it can be bought).
Sounds simple, right? Well, both are actually very hard to do – requiring time, investment and of course an effective, winning strategy.
Unsurprisingly, in this post, we’re going to look at physical availability, and more specifically understanding why and how to be where people want to shop.
Being where people want to shop, means you’re going to need to increase your sales distribution channels. And as you’ll be fully aware through your own shopping behaviour, there are now so many routes and channels to market. Furthermore, research from Boston Consulting Group shows that customers who use several channels spend 2-3 times more than single-channel customers.
If that wasn’t enough, your brand will benefit from having more distribution channels because:
- Gives you the opportunity to reach new customers.
- Reduces your risk, as you’re less reliant on one single channel.
We’ve heard many stories of brands solely reliant on a single channel (like Amazon), only for a change in the Amazon platform or in the advertising network to cause a dramatic decline in sales.
Clearly then, in an ideal world, you’d want your product to be available everywhere, through loads of different channels. But before you get too carried away, in reality, this just isn’t achievable (as you’d no doubt had already been thinking). And the next point is a big thing to remember:
When adding new distribution channels, you need to have the capabilities to match.
By that we mean do you have the operational capabilities, the internal resource or the knowledge to focus on the channels you’ve identified? And that’s another important point – focus. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s now a crazy number of channels out there, and so how do you know what channels are right for you and your brand? Where do you prioritise your efforts?
You need to begin by researching and understanding your customers – how they shop, where they shop, their purchase journey, and their behaviours. Being clear on these things will help you to identify how many and the best channels for you to focus on.
Especially as it’s all too easy to get caught up with the hype and noise around the latest channels (like TikTok), but established channels (like eBay) might in fact be where the biggest opportunities lie for your brand.
And coming back to the earlier point, your operational capabilities and internal resources will likely dictate what new channels you can enter into, or how quickly. The important takeaway really is about appreciating that the decision to expand your sales distribution/channels is the easy part, getting new channels up and running and working effectively is a whole other story and a lot harder.
More channels, in a seamless way, all while meeting ever-increasing customer expectations can make for a tricky formula to calculate. It’s why again, becoming an ecommerce business, not just an online shop is critical (previous post on that, here) – taking full advantage of digital infrastructure. As things like stock management, delivery and fulfilment can all be better managed and automated through advanced digital technologies.
Talking of advanced automated technologies that can benefit your ecommerce store, that brings us nicely to a close with a little sales pitch of our own – AI-powered conversion rate optimisation, you can find out even more about how we’re shaping the future of CRO, here.