Login
GUIDE

Guide to choosing the right sales channels for your ecommerce business

In this guide, we explain how to choose the right sales channels for your ecommerce business and highlight how a 3PL can help you drive growth across all the channels you sell on.

Manager working online while sitting in a warehouse office
Different types of ecommerce channels Steps to choosing the right ecommerce channels Benefits of using a 3PL for multi-channel fulfilment Conclusion
10 min to read
Subscribe
Was this page helpful?
What didn’t work for you?
Thank you!

Your feedback helps us improve this page.
Thank you!



Your feedback helps us improve this page.

For ecommerce businesses, the strategy of selling across multiple sales channels can provide a pathway to greater growth and profitability.

Multi-channel ecommerce is becoming increasingly popular, with businesses today – on average – selling their products across 3.2 channels.

Why is multi-channel selling such a powerful strategy for ecommerce businesses? Because it enables you to maximise:

  • Customer acquisition: The majority of online shoppers today – 86% according to recent data – shop on at least two sales channels before making an online purchase. Businesses must be able to meet these shoppers wherever they are, maintaining a presence on a variety of channels. Simply put, the more channels your ecommerce business lists and sells your products on, the more opportunities you have to reach shoppers and convert them into customers.
  • Business expansion: Multi-channel selling allows you to utilise the scale and reach of new channels – including marketplaces, such as Amazon.com and eBay, and social media stores on Facebook and Instagram – to engage new customers and expand into new markets.
  • Revenue growth: By reaching new customers and tapping into new areas of the market, multi-channel ecommerce can fuel revenue growth. Recent research shows that multi-channel selling can increase revenue by as much as 38% with one additional channel, 120% with two additional channels, and 190% with three additional channels.
Stay up to date with new Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfilment features, best practices, and more.

For these and other reasons, a growing number of ecommerce businesses are pursuing a multi-channel ecommerce approach.

Although this strategy can unlock opportunities for growth, it can also unleash complexity and challenges across your business operations – especially when it comes to logistics processes such as order fulfilment and inventory management.

That’s why many companies engage third-party logistics (3PL) providers – such as Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfilment (MCF) – to help them fulfil orders and ensure a first-class customer experience across all the channels they sell on.

In today’s omnichannel retail landscape, there are so many ecommerce channels to choose from – including ecommerce marketplaces, brand websites, and social media stores. But how can you choose the right online sales channels for your business?

In this guide, we examine the different types of ecommerce channels that you can sell on, explain how to choose the right ecommerce channels for your business, and highlight how a 3PL can help you drive growth across all the channels you sell on.


Different types of ecommerce channels

Broadly speaking, ecommerce channels can be divided into three main categories:

white monitor icon with blue background
Brand websites
A brand website is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) online store that is owned and run by an ecommerce business. According to recent research, there over 26.5 million ecommerce brand websites globally, and every day this number grows as more and more businesses open their own online stores.

Many brand websites today are built on ecommerce software solutions such as Shopify and Adobe Commerce – which can help simplify the process of building and managing your online store.

Perhaps the main reason why brand websites are becoming increasingly popular is that they allow you to maintain complete control over:

  • Your brand’s presence and positioning.
  • The shopping experience for customers from online browsing and checkout to delivery.
  • The selection of products from your catalogue, pricing, and promotions you want to offer.
  • Your customer data, which you can use to establish and nurture direct relationships with shoppers.
Smartphone with cardboard box icon on blue background
Ecommerce marketplaces
Marketplaces such as Amazon.com, eBay, and Etsy are collectively the largest single source of ecommerce revenue, accounting for 33.5% of total online sales in 2023. And this trend is expected to continue in the future, with sales from ecommerce marketplaces – which hit $384.5 billion in 2023 – forecasted to reach $603.2 billion in 2027.

The majority of these ecommerce marketplace sales – 77.5% according to recent research – come from third-party sellers like you. Indeed, ecommerce marketplaces provide an immense opportunity for independent ecommerce businesses to accelerate revenue growth.

By selling your products on an ecommerce marketplace, you gain access to:

  • The vast, global pool of potential customers who shop on ecommerce marketplaces.
  • An established ecommerce channel, which can serve as a vehicle to help you attract and convert shoppers into customers.
  • The best-in-class 3PL fulfilment services that many ecommerce marketplaces provide. Amazon, for example, offers Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), a service that third-party sellers can utilise to pick, pack, and ship their Amazon.com orders. Additionally, if you’re selling on another ecommerce marketplace and want leverage Amazon’s fulfilment network and expertise to deliver your orders, you can use MCF.
Overall, selling your products on an ecommerce marketplace enables you to benefit from that marketplace’s established presence, scale, and resources to improve your customer reach, acquisition, and order fulfilment experience.
white graphic of a hand holding a phone with a check mark in the middle on a bright blue background
Social media stores
An ever-increasing number of online shoppers are purchasing products through stores on social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Social commerce sales – which totalled $992 million last year – are expected to skyrocket to $8.5 trillion by 2030.

Social commerce is particularly popular among the younger generations, with nearly 70% of Gen Z shoppers and around 90% of millennial shoppers stating that they purchased an item after seeing it in their social media feed.

Selling your products on social media stores allows you to tap into large audience of potential customers, engage them with relevant content and targeted marketing campaigns, and offer them a frictionless shopping experience through their social media channel of choice.

Steps to choosing the right ecommerce channels

1. Learn about your customers

For your ecommerce business to be successful, it’s essential that you develop a deep understanding of who your current and prospective customers are, where they are located, and where they shop online – so that you can ensure your brand has a presence on the channels where your customers are today and in the future.

Let’s say your core customer base is people between the ages of 18 and 24 in the US. Research shows that 55% of this population shop on social media channels – so if you want to reach these shoppers, social commerce could be a key part of your selling strategy.

Invest the time in researching customer demographics and current shopping trends so that you can learn which channels your customers use to shop – and ultimately offer the right products, to the right shoppers, through the right channels.

2. Think about your business model and goals

When trying to select the right ecommerce channels for your business, it’s imperative that you take your business model and goals into consideration – so that you can identify the channels that are best suited for your business.

For example, if your brand wants to offer a unique, customised experience for shoppers, then selling on your brand website is probably the best approach for you.

However, if your goal is to expand your business by tapping into a larger pool of customers, then you will likely want to explore listing your products on ecommerce marketplaces.

Or, if you want to appeal to a younger shopper demographic in the US and utilise influencer marketing to drive sales, then social media stores on Facebook or Instagram (the two most popular social commerce channels in the US) could be a good fit for your business.

Woman in pink shirt sitting at a desk with a laptop staring out the window leaning her chin on her hands

3. Consider the operational and financial implications

Your choice of ecommerce channels will have an impact on your business’s operations and bottom line. When evaluating whether you should sell on a channel, you should take into account various factors, including:

  • Cost: You should take the time to calculate the potential costs of running your ecommerce business on a particular channel (including setup costs, marketing and advertising costs, product listing, order processing, and fulfilment fees, customer service costs, etc.) Determine whether the expected revenue uplift is significant enough to justify making the necessary investments to sell on that channel, and whether you have the budget to support scaling your business across that channel.
  • Business requirements: Each channel comes with its own set of business requirements, and you need to make sure that your business can meet them. For example, an ecommerce marketplace may have requirements about inbounding and distributing inventory, order tracking, delivery date promises, returns management, or even the type of packaging you use – and, in order to sell on these marketplaces, you must be able to adhere to their requirements.
  • Integrations: Ecommerce integrations – software applications that connect your back-end systems (such as ERP, inventory, and order management systems) with the channels you sell on and the 3PL providers you use – are an essential tool for today’s online businesses. In fact, the average ecommerce experience today involves over 30 integrated systems, according to Gartner. Check to make sure you are able to easily and effectively integrate your systems with those of the channels you are considering – as this will enable you to automate and streamline your ecommerce operations across those channels.

By following these steps – considering your customers, your business model and goals, and your operations and budget – you can identify which channels would be right for your business.

Over time, you will want to continuously evaluate your sales and order fulfilment performance across the different ecommerce channels that you use – to determine if you need to make any adjustments or additions to your multi-channel mix.


Benefits of using a 3PL for multi-channel fulfilment

Running a multi-channel ecommerce business can be complicated and challenging – and that’s why many companies engage 3PL providers to handle logistics across all the channels they sell on.

A 3PL can help you:

Determine which channels you should use
Once you’ve done the initial research, a 3PL can work with you to figure out how much it would cost to fulfil orders across the various channels you’re considering and decide on whether it makes sense – from a financial and operational perspective – for you to pursue selling on those channels.
Get up and running on new channels
A 3PL can guide you on how to seamlessly connect and integrate all your channels with your order and inventory management systems as well as the 3PL provider’s back-end systems – so that you can automate your ecommerce fulfilment process from click to delivery. A 3PL can also ensure that you comply with the unique requirements and guidelines of all the channels you are selling on.
Streamline order fulfilment across all your channels
By engaging a 3PL, you can synchronise and optimise order fulfilment operations across all your channels. This will enable you to consistently deliver your customer orders on time and drive multi-channel business growth. MCF helped global fragrance brand Aromatan expand its business across brand websites, ecommerce marketplaces, and social media stores. Read the case study.
Consolidate your inventory into a pool
A 3PL can consolidate your inventory into a single pool that can be utilised to fulfil orders across all your channels – so that you can maximise inventory turnover and minimise stockouts. With MCF, for example, you can leverage a single pool of inventory for your Amazon.com orders (with FBA) and your off-Amazon orders (with MCF).
Continuously analyse your multi-channel order fulfilment
A 3PL can work with you to evaluate your fulfilment performance across all the channels you’re selling on – to make sure that you’re meeting your KPI targets in on-time delivery performance, total order cycle time, average cost per order, and other areas. A 3PL can also help you identify opportunities to optimise your order fulfilment and reduce costs.
Ensure that you’re able to deliver a consistent, first-class online shopping experience
With a 3PL, you can give customers a superb and seamless order fulfilment experience across all the channels you sell on. · With MCF as its 3PL provider, skincare brand 5Kind was able to offer its customers on five different ecommerce channels an average click-to-delivery speed of 1.06 business days and a 99.85% on-time delivery rate. Read the case study.

Conclusion

Pursuing a multi-channel ecommerce approach can enable you to increase customer acquisition and revenue growth and uncover opportunities for business expansion.

But with so many ecommerce channels out there, it can be difficult to identify which ones are right for you. By following the steps highlighted in this guide, you can determine the best multi-channel mix for your business.

And by choosing the right 3PL provider, you can successfully navigate the challenges and complexity of running a multi-channel ecommerce business and consistently delight your customers with fast, reliable fulfilment – no matter which channels you are selling on.


Related content