If your business is only selling on one ecommerce channel, it’s practically a sitting duck.
Consumers today are hopping all across the internet. Ninety-seven percent of people who visit a site are presumed to leave without making a purchase. Meanwhile, Amazon makes up nearly half (46.7%) of all online product searches in the U.S., and niche marketplaces attract 35% of consumers.
To give yourself a fighting chance, you need to adopt a multichannel strategy. However, many sellers fail to execute one successfully because they simply don’t have enough hands. After all, one channel is hard enough to manage. Throw in several more and your job becomes exponentially more difficult.
This is why multichannel software exists: to make your life easier. Here is a rundown of some of the top platforms to consider, as well as tips for selecting the right software for you.
What Is the Purpose of a Multichannel Ecommerce Software?
A multichannel platform saves you time, money and stress. It helps you work more efficiently across multiple channels (read: you won’t have to log into each channel individually for the same tasks). It saves you the hassle of redoing your work for each channel and reconciling inventory or sales numbers by hand.
Note that a multichannel system is very different from an ERP. While both offer the ability to centralize your operations, a multichannel system is specifically designed for ecommerce and for customer-facing sites. It tends to be faster to implement, nimbler and more in touch with how ecommerce channels work.
There are also various types of solutions you can choose. Some only offer tools for a certain component of multichannel selling, like inventory, listing and/or order management. Others offer a combination of these. The best ones know that in order for one part of your operations to run smoothly, it needs to work in conjunction with everything else, and will therefore support integrations that keep all of your apps connected.
As you look for a solution that meets your needs, you’ll want to keep your eye out for these key capabilities. Some may take more priority than others—create your list ahead of time so that you can properly evaluate your options.
Download Now: Ecommerce Software Evaluation Checklist
Does the system integrate with your most important sales channels? Keep in mind that some platforms will not integrate with every channel you sell on, so you will need to decide whether a channel is a make-it-or-break-it factor. You’ll additionally want to check if the platform can integrate with foreign marketplaces (if that’s a strong focus for you) and/or if it connects with your WMS, OMS or other essential apps.
One of the biggest perks of a multichannel software is being able to avoid manually listing your products on each channel. However, keep your eyes peeled for software (especially cheap ones) that claim to automate listing but still require lots of manual setup. Each channel has very specific listing requirements and a unique taxonomy, which change regularly, so your platform needs to be able to adapt to their criteria both now and later.
Marketplaces are always evolving. Amazon, for example, routinely updates its listing criteria to deliver a better user experience for their buyers. This forces sellers to adopt changes quickly—even if it means hitting “pause” on normal operations and spending weeks manually updating their ASINs—in order to avoid costly penalties. Your software provider should be experienced in adapting to such changes. Most providers require weeks (if not months) to develop new solutions (which usually still require manual work on your end). But if they’re like Zentail, they’ll have an automated solution in place to implement solutions faster and cut down the amount of work on your plate.
Your software should protect you from premature stockouts or overselling by automatically updating available quantities as sales are made. This means that when you make a sale on any channel, your other channels should be updated in near real-time. Inventory buffers additionally help with concurrent selling. They ensure that when you’re down to your last few items, your item is only available for sale on one channel. All other channels will be turned off to avoid overselling.
What tasks do you spend the most time on? What would you rather spend your time doing? What’s keeping your business from scaling? Multichannel ecommerce software should be your ticket to fulfilling bigger, better goals. Workflow automation can span lots of different areas, but some of the most popular features include being able to schedule and automate promotions; make bulk edits to a large catalog; and quickly address listing errors.
How many clicks does it take for you to perform core functions on the platform? Is the platform easy to learn, or will you need to spend lots of time training new team members? In the words of Elon Musk, “All user input equals error.” You’ll want to make sure that your platform requires the least amount of user actions possible.
This is one of the most understated requirements of a good software partner. However, customer support should never be an afterthought; numerous sellers leave their platforms each year because of poor support. Check to see that your software provider offers easy access to their support team. Do they provide a direct line to their customer support team? Or, do they try to hide that information?
5 Top Multichannel Ecommerce Platforms
Zentail is best for sellers doing at least $500,000 in GMV. It is a popular solution among Amazon sellers and website owners who are looking to go multichannel for the first time.
It supports today’s major U.S. sales channels, including Amazon, Walmart Marketplace and eBay. It does not currently support international marketplaces or certain niche channels, like Etsy, but focuses on providing deep, reliable tools for each channel that it does support.
Zentail is best known for SMART Types, the “brain” behind its listing automation capabilities. It is also the only universal change management tool, which can automatically format and optimize your product listings according to new marketplace requirements. Other notable features include: listing error resolution, bulk edits, business rules, listing splits, inventory management and business analytics.
- Capterra rating: 4.7/5
- Featured review: “An up and coming, all encompassing, E-commerce [sic] management solution.” - Ben G. on Capterra
BigCommerce offers pre-built integrations for Facebook, Amazon and other channels so that you can manage your listings from one place. You can also leverage features like Instagram Checkout to further promote your brand, plus merge your online with your offline sources to sync sales, inventory and revenue.
BigCommerce’s multichannel functionality is designed to fulfill basic listing needs. It has partnerships with other third-party platforms (including Zental) to provide more advanced solutions for businesses that are looking to scale.
BigCommerce’s multichannel features are worth a go if you already use BigCommerce to host your site. Otherwise, you will likely want to look at a more end-to-end tool that’s specifically built for multichannel.
- Capterra rating: 4.3/5
- Featured review: “Best online platform for start-ups and beginners to innovate business.” - Harsha V. on Capterra
Sellbrite is a popular solution for small to medium-sized businesses with a smaller budget. It offers plans ranging from free to $179 a month and is best known for its easy-to-use interface.
It is one of the best beginner tools, with features spanning listing automation, inventory syncing and order management. It additionally offers Shopify-specific plans whereby Shopify users can use Sellbrite as an extension of their Shopify store, rather than use Sellbrite as the source of truth.
However, it is not uncommon for larger sellers to outgrow Sellbrite. Sellbrite is designed specifically with small business owners in mind and does not offer as many customization options as platforms intended for big businesses.
- Capterra rating: 4.6/5
- Featured review: “Amazing App! Even better support!” - David R. on Capterra
Brightpearl is an ERP-turned-ecommerce-solution, designed for sellers doing $1 million or above in sales. It combines CRM with ERP and POS tools, alongside other essential ecommerce functionality.
Because of this, you can manage suppliers, view customer data, manage purchase orders and handle payments all in one place. It’s a popular system among omnichannel retailers with multiple brick-and-mortar stores, online channels and suppliers.
One thing to note is that Brightpearl is on the pricier side. With roots in the UK, some users have also noted challenges with customer support, though this has reportedly improved in recent years.
- Capterra rating: 4.4/5
- Featured review: “Brightpearl is a fantastic all in one [sic] ERP system.” - Adam F. on Capterra
ChannelAdvisor is one of the most well-known and oldest players in the space. It integrates with more than a 100 domestic and international sales channels. It has dozens and dozens of features, including the ability to manage your marketplace ads within ChannelAdvisor.
The most common complaints around ChannelAdvisor involve its price, customer support and allegedly “clunky” software. ChannelAdvisor plans can cost several thousands of dollars a month depending on the channels and features you need. You should expect to pay for each marketplace you want to sell on, on top of commission fees.
ChannelAdvisor is still seen as the most expansive platform of the bunch, but many newer platforms have started to outperform ChannelAdvisor in functionality and support.
- Capterra rating: 3.8/5
- Featured review: “Good software but not the best company to work with.” - Randy B. on Capterra
Choose Your Platform Wisely
Whether you’re a new business or a more established business that’s looking to expand, there’s a platform available for you. No two platforms are the same though, so make sure you know what you want and need before entering into conversations.
Want to know what simple looks like? Request a demo of Zentail to see the magic up close.