Why sales channel diversification can benefit small-business owners

Retailers worldwide have been challenged by the rapidly changing retail climate over the past 10 years. Brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic where bricks and mortar store doors were slammed shut. Luckily for Stoned Crystals, we had prepared for this kind of transformation by diversifying our sales channels back in 2017.

Stoned Crystals entered the market in 2015 through distribution into over 100 design and homewares stores worldwide. As these businesses slowly began to close over the space of two years and we saw the retail climate rapidly changing my life partner and business partner Jeremy LeBard asked me, “What would you do if all of these stores simply stopped ordering”?. The answer is simple, the business would no longer be viable.

We relied on 80 per cent revenue from wholesale and I quickly moved to try and increase our B2C sales so I could rely on my own customer network. Like most businesses, we turned to our social media channels to try to capture sales. Instagram had recently launched their ‘live’ function which at the time was very heavily weighted in their algorithms. Basically, if you were live most followers you had would see the live pop up in their Instagram profile.

The first day I tested the live function in November 2017, I sold all products on my table in my small apartment in Melbourne over four times. This was the equivalent of a month’s worth of web uploads! Fast forward three years and we saw the live sales model work wonders for us during the pandemic. We had a team of 20+ employees running multiple live sale shows a day from our flagship store where the windows had been boarded closed with signs explaining how we were live broadcasting and operating safely under the restrictions afforded to us as an online retailer. Once our shop opened again, we couldn’t ignore the success of the live streaming sales channel so we leased a small shop branded as a “Live Show Studio” so we could continue to broadcast daily.

Channel diversification also reduces the pressure and stresses of traditional sales channels. For this to work, a level of foresight needs to be implemented. As an entrepreneur who happens to have a partner who has built apps before, we had the foresight to understand that even though it is successful our reliance on Instagram with no service level agreements was not healthy. At the same time, we began to experience the issues surrounding how using a platform that wasn’t built for selling comes with its limitations. So, we again looked at how we could diversify our sales channels to maintain our growing business and revenue. We spent the last three years building our own app which has been trailed, tested and has been a great success. So much so, it will exceed the revenue created through Instagram by the end of the year.

We are also focusing on highly-targeted collaborations and partnerships with industry leaders in the building and wellness spaces this year. It is key to never rely on a single sales channel for long term business sustainability as if and when it dries up or the industry shifts, a once viable business becomes unsustainable. Of course, diversifying your sales channels doesn’t come without significant challenges. It requires the people within the business to be very dynamic and be able to adapt and be flexible with change. It also requires a lot of trial and error to find what works best for you and your customer base. However, when you get the right mix for your business it allows for fluid movement between channels and a balanced mix of sales channels that all complement one another