3 Ways to Grow Your Online Sales

e-commerce is a growth machineE-commerce is a growth machine for many manufacturers. It’s considered organic growth and many worry it’s ultimately undermining the traditional channels of distribution.

But for now, it is opportunity that you need to leverage.

Is E-commerce your fastest growing channel?

Is ecommerce your fastest growing channel?There are basic three ways that you can use to grow your ecommerce business. Granted, this is an oversimplification, but it will help you focus your efforts and drive your tactics for sales growth.

  1. Add more online customers
  2. Add more products to the customers you already have
  3. Promote your online listings

Adding more online retailers really means building a Direct to Consumer business model

ecommerce(1)Once you develop the capacity to handle online sales the process is fairly easy to expand. The exception is if you have a warehouse program (with Amazon.com, for example) and you are shifting gears over to a Direct to Consumer shipping model.

D2C is the foundation that most etailers are looking for. It shifts the cost structure to you (your team warehousing and shipping) but it makes doing business with those etailers as simple as establishing your skus on their website.

More products will help build sales but not overnight

Overwhelmed onlineIt makes sense that as you add more products you will increase your sales with an online retailer. The problem is that those sales take time to build into any real volume.

There are so many products for sale online now that it’s hard to get new products noticed. And the websites they are on are looking for consumer views, sales and recommendations before they are going to get much visibility.

Getting attention online means spending money to make money

How do you gain visibility in an online marketplace? Really the answer is site dependent but the ideas are the same for almost any site.

  1. Use key search terms
  2. Make it visual
  3. Pay attention to reviews

Getting attention online means spending money to make moneyAvoid “salesy” marketing copy and use everyday search terms that will drive viewers to your listings. Consumers are rarely search for your brand names. Your familiarity with your products is likely clouding your judgment about how consumers will search for your product category.

Many sites allow for extensive use of rich marketing content like photography, 360 degree views, video, instructions sheets, FAQ’s, and the like. Consumers look at the pictures first to narrow down what they are looking for – they are not reading your features and benefits so make those picture count.

Success is also dependent on the reviews your product has. You may think you are in great shape – 5 stars all the way – but if you have only a few reviews, consumers will be suspicious and the site algorithms won’t push your product to the top of the search results. On the other hand, a composite four-star rating or better with 75 or so reviews will help you gain critical placement in site searches, allowing you to gain more sales with less traffic. Had a negative review come through? Respond to it online in a positive manner to show you are engaged with the customer.

Good Selling!

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

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Are You Using Channel Marketing For Greater Sales Results?

Be CuriousChannel marketing is one of the least understood roles in marketing.

Channel marketers walk a fine line between sales and marketing. But that also allows channel marketers to have a unique perspective in the organization by:

  • Intimately understanding the distribution channel and knowing the needs and priorities of their customers – and their customers’ customers
  • Being able to build a compelling story as to why their new products and programs will help build their customer’s sales and profits

What are channel marketing’s key roles and activities with Sales?

Channel Marketing Drives Sales SuccessChannel marketing goes by many other names: customer marketing, trade marketing even sales support or admin are other names for the same role. Regardless of what it’s called, the goals for channel marketing are designed to minimize the conflicts with sales.

  • Making the flow of information work for sales, not against them
  • Removing repetitive information requests
  • Building a faster process between questions and answers
  • Pushing information outward

As a result, channel managers strives to…

  • Understand customer strategies
  • Provide marketing direction & support to sales, product, and brand managers
  • Find ways to invest more in growth opportunities
  • Co-develop better ways of selling through product inventory

Sales can – and should — expect support from Channel Marketing with…

  • Channel Marketing Can Help You Through The Customer MazeDesigning & budgeting promotions
  • Tracking annual goals to Results
  • Joint customer planning
  • Building connections with the customer’s teams
  • Getting retail & online merchandising support
  • Sharing insights within & outside channel with the product marketing team

Who Does What?

Sales Needs Channel Mgr Brand Mgr Product Mgr
Establishing Item Pricing No No Yes
Customer Item Distribution Yes No Yes – FYI
Unplanned Promotions Yes No Yes – FYI
Updates to Products POP, Package, Web Yes (1st) Yes Yes- FYI

Financial

Sales Needs Channel Mgr What’s Needed Completed by
New Item Cost & P&L Impact Yes Customer’s potential unit volume Finance
Freight Cost Quotations Yes Item, delivery locations & requirements & unit volume Finance (& Logistics)
Unplanned Promotions & Expenses Yes Item, units, dates, offer level Channel & Finance
Trade Show Offers Yes Items, offers, dates, any Freight needs Channel & Finance

Merchandising

Sales Needs Channel Mgr What’s Needed Completed by
Changes to POP/New POP Yes Objective of changes, timing & process steps with customer Brand
Website Marketing Content Yes UPC, item, data fields that need to be entered Brand
Catalog & Ad Page Designs Yes Items, due dates, offer & output needs Brand
Planogram & End Cap Designs Yes Items additions or deletions, output needs Channel

Channel Marketing is a critical input to the planning process

Your committed actions to drive growth - for you and your customerAll year long, the channel team is watching and documenting the activities in the market. Their insights can assist the entire sales and marketing team with…

  • Product launch requirements
  • Competitive insights
  • Market and channel growth
  • Who’s winning and losing in the channel and why
  • Promotion insights
  • POS insights
  • Merchandising
  • AOP (annual operating plan) roll ups

These activities are all being accomplished within your organization but by breaking them out for a separate team to focus on, you will improve your insights, communication and, ultimately, your sales.

Good Selling!

Are You Pricing with Your Customer’s Profitability in Mind?

Are You Pricing with Your Customer’s Profitability in Mind?How do you determine your pricing?  It’s probably a rigorous process, but is it science or art?

Do you start with your profitability and go from there? Or do you start with the market price and let your profitability fall wherever it may?

Neither approach alone will help you win in the marketplace. Because neither approach puts your customer‘s profitability into the picture.

Use a pricing strategy that considers your customer’s profitability

Use a pricing strategy that considers your customer’s profitabilityDelivering a market price to your customer will certainly be geared toward improving your top line. Here the logic is that your customer will be looking closely at a few high volume, highly competitively priced products to evaluate your overall pricing proposal.

If you price those product “footballs” correctly, everyone seems to wins. You get the business and they get the pricing they need to be competitive in the marketplace.

But that strategy embodies the whole point of pricing – that your customer is competitive in the market. If they are making the money they need to be successful, you will stand out.

But are you making the money you need to stay in business?

Take a P&L approach to pricing

Take a P&L approach to pricing

It’s no surprise that there’s no one sure way to approach pricing. It really is part science and part art.

But do you approach the science part with a fact-based strategy? To do that, you need to be able to answer a few simple questions:

  • What is the product’s market price?
  • What is the customer’s margin % expectations
  • What can we make?

As one senior leader recently commented to us about pricing: “If you manage pricing from only your profitability – you’re going to be dead.”

Which is why pricing is art as much as science.

Inside of a company, pricing is really a continuum

How do you determine your pricing?  It’s probably a rigorous process, but is it science or art?The sales team is, understandably, all about making the sale. They want a price that will help them achieve that goal.

On the other hand, the product marketing team is looking to get credit for the innovation they are bringing to the marketplace. They want to get paid a premium.

Straddling both sides of the fence is channel marketing (also called trade or customer marketing depending on the company). Channel marketing sees both sides of the fence, is grounded in reality, and keeps perspective throughout the process.

Having a group like channel marketing manage your pricing is the secret sauce. They have perspective, collect all the facts, and keep the customer’s profitability balanced with your own profitability.

For other Channel Instincts posts on pricing, see What Does “Your Price Is Too High” Really Mean?, Is Pricing Making You Go Bananas? and Are You Pricing for Volume or Profit?

Good Selling!