Wondering which sales channels work best? Here are the top 5 online channels

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Sales channels are different alternatives to find and capture customers, that is, different ways to present your products to potential clients and get more sales.

Right, so which are the best at the moment?

We know you don’t have much time and you can’t be in 25 different places at once, so in this article, we’ll show you the 5 current best sales channels for e-commerce.

Let’s get to it.

👉 What are sales channels?

A sales channel is a way to commercialize your products. In other words, it is the platform or means that allows you to present your products to your target audience.

However, we usually talk about it in plural because every online store or business typically uses more than one.

You know, don’t put all your eggs in one basket! ;)

Is it still a bit too abstract?

Don’t worry – we’ll tell you about the different types of sales channels there are (with examples), so it’ll all be much clearer.

👉 Types of sales channels (and their pros and cons)

There are two main types of sales channels:

  • Offline channels: They don’t use the Internet to contact clients, the typical example being a physical store.
  • Online channels: They are Internet-based, such as your own online shop.

For our purposes, we’ll only focus on the online sales channels, which are plenty to get us started. ;)

✅ 1. SEO + Online shop

Yes, your e-commerce is a sales channel itself.

How so?

Because, if you combine it with a good positioning strategy, your store can be well positioned and attract more traffic from different keywords.

Important to note:

Important Note: SEO is a technique that requires patience and calmness.

Unless you have an extremely large budget, you should always view positioning as a strategy that produces results in the mid or long term. 

One thing’s for sure, though – Once you get it going, SEO will be one of the best sales channels to work on. ;) 

✅ 2. Marketplace

What do we mean by “marketplace”?

A marketplace is an online shopping platform that acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers.

In other words, it’s a website where you can integrate your store in order to increase sales and reach a wider audience (because having more shops in the same place means more traffic).

Think Amazon, for example.

Amazon is a massive online shopping center where you can add your own shop to benefit from all the traffic they receive (but all that glitters isn’t gold, so check out this post for an in-depth analysis).

Although Amazon and eBay are the best-known marketplaces, there are many other options depending on the type of products you sell (that can help you attract more qualified traffic).

  • Crafts: Without a doubt, the most popular one is Etsy, but don’t miss out on Not on The High Street.
  • B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce: You must be on Solostocks as it’s one of the most important marketplaces for suppliers in Spanish; or WorldTrade, a similar option but in English. 
  • To access the German market: The most logical thing to do is to run a shop on Otto, the biggest German marketplace. 

Do the research according to your buyer persona. There’s surely a suitable marketplace for you (and if there isn’t, that’s a great business idea). ;)

Is it worth jumping into the world of marketplaces?

As with everything in life, it depends.

It can be something good to start with, but the competition is tougher because there are a lot shops to compete against. And needless to say, you also have to pay a commission to the marketplace for every item you sell. 

You should definitely read this article and learn more about what marketplaces are and how to get started with them.

✅ 3. Affiliate programs

Many see affiliate programs as the panacea for e-commerce – it’s like having a network of salespeople working for you 24/7/365.

Affiliation is a system whereby others recommend your products in exchange for a commission on every sale.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You own an online store.
  2. You spot other websites and e-commerce shops with a similar target audience (while avoiding the competition, obviously).
  3. You get in touch with them and reach a collaboration deal so they sell your products on commission.
  4. This website becomes an affiliate of yours, so they now offer your products through their store or promote them in ads or reviews.
  5. A user visits your affiliate’s website, clicks on the item’s link, is taken to your site, and makes the purchase.
  6. You pay a commission to your affiliate.

The most obvious advantage is that you don’t need to deal with any commercial work: someone else does it for you and they only get paid if a purchase is finalized.

Affiliation allows your business to grow in a quick and uncomplicated way (it’s the foundation of Amazon’s growth).

However, it also has a downside: If the commission you offer isn’t appealing, you’re unlikely to find many affiliates.

It must be worth the effort for them.

Interested in learning more about the system? Check out these posts:

✅ 4. Google Shopping

It’s one of the most recommendable sales channels since it directs willing clients to your store (so you’re likely to see an increase to your conversion rate).

Google Shopping shows the ads that pop up with transactional searches (if you look at it, it says “Sponsored” in the top-right corner).

For example, if you search for “running shoes”, a sequence of different suppliers and prices is displayed at the top:

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Wait a minute – isn’t this the same as Google Ads (previously known as AdWords)?

No, it’s not.

Even though they’re both part of Google’s marketing and publicity system, they’re not the same, so you shouldn’t use them the same way.

They do work similarly, though, as stores bid to show up through different keywords. However, Google Shopping typically focuses on product ads (it allows you to show photos), while Google Ads focuses on item categories.

However, that’s not necessarily a universal law written in stone.

As always, you must look over each case and be sure to measure everything over and over again.

Want to learn more about Google Shopping to integrate it as a sales channel for your e-commerce?

Here’s an exhaustive tutorial about increasing sales with Google Shopping.

✅ 5. Social networking sites

Let’s start by making one thing clear: Social networking sites should never be your only sales channel since it’s the sales channel with the lowest conversion rate on this list.

We really want to emphasize that because amateur entrepreneurs tend to rely exclusively on social networking sites to capture clients once they get their businesses started.

But why even bother to use them at all if there are better alternative channels?

Because social selling directs more qualified traffic to your online shop, which you can turn into sales.

According to the annual study on social networking sites by IAB:

  • 55% of users look up information on social networks before making a purchase.
  • 41% of users interact with brands on social media, sharing comments and reviews of their products.
  • 64% take positive comments into account before making a purchase.

Furthermore, each social network typically has its own advertising system that allows you to generate publicity.

For example, advertising on Instagram is one of the most effective sales channels at the moment for fashion, accessories, traveling, and other sectors.

Would you like to learn more about enhancing your social networks?

Here’s some homework in the form of posts. ;)

👉 Figure out which sales channels work best for you

The truth is, we’re heading toward omnichannel marketing. That is, brands have to offer a good user experience in every channel.

If your business has just launching, don’t panic. The best thing you can do is work effectively with one or two channels for now. If you own a big business, however, you should check if your channels are well coordinated and complement one another.

Now that you know about the main sales channels that are out there, you just need to do one thing – start selling!!

Once you’ve shared this post on your social networks, of course. ;)