Like individuals who make New Year’s resolutions, most business owners take time to set new goals and/or revise old goals at the beginning of each year. As more and more consumers and sellers become comfortable with ecommerce, merchants are branching out and adopting a multichannel selling approach, whether branching out to sell on Amazon (or another site or sites) in addition to eBay or whether opening a brick and mortar or starting up their own website.
One of IMA’s most recent polls asked sellers what their business goals were for 2008. The poll choices were:
Expand into other online selling venues
Expand current product line/number of listings
Add new products to business
Open up or expand brick and mortar retail store
As we had expected, the majority of respondents said they planned to expand into other online selling venues. In fact, 67/112 (59.8%) said this was true. From an informal survey of the IMA and other message boards, it appears that Amazon is fast becoming the most popular online venue for sellers looking to branch out. It will be interesting to see how Amazon and sellers deal with the influx of sellers to Amazon. Will Amazon experience some of the growing pains eBay has? Will Amazon be able to continue and sustain its growth? Will sellers remain enchanted with Amazon or will they become disillusioned if Amazon decides to raise fees or implement new policies like eBay has?
The second most popular goal for 2008 (21/112 or 18.8%) according to our respondents was expand current product line/number of listings. It is not clear whether this means these respondents are expanding their current product line/number of listings on eBay or whether they are adopting a multichannel approach and branching out to Amazon and/or their own website. So many sellers focus on expanding their current product line/number of listings, but doing so often presents another set of business challenges such as how to keep growing your business yet maintaining and improving your profit margins, how to handle the increased listing/shipping volume, etc.
Adding new products to business (19/112 or 17%) was the third most popular business goal of our respondents. While adding new products may offer another potential income source, it may also mean having to find and deal with new suppliers, having to research and evaluate profit margins for the new products, possibly dealing with some new buyer challenges related to the products, etc. Again, in the haste to grow, sellers must find a balance between growth and keeping their business running efficiently.
Lastly, 4.5% (5/112) of respondents planned to open up or expand their brick and mortar retail store. Given the rumblings about the economy being in trouble and people and corporations tightening their finances, this is an interesting response. It would also help to know where these sellers live as often, the cost of acquiring and operating a brick and mortar retail store is significantly cheaper in some areas than it is in others.
What do these poll results mean in the grand scheme of things? As has been the trend for the past few years, it appears that sellers are constantly adapting to the world of ecommerce and rules of various selling venues and in order to expand their businesses and remain competitive, sellers are branching out and remaining nimble.