SELL ON A MARKETPLACES, BUT DON’T RELY ON IT TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS
When starting out and setting up an online business, a lot of people immediately start out building their business foundations on the basis of an online marketplace such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy and a lot more channels as their main source of income. They’re quick, easy, and require a minimum amount of effort to get started; making you some quick sales in the short-term. However, a common mistake that business owners make is relying on an online marketplace to build their entire business on, without establishing their own brand.
We cannot stress enough the importance of building a brand for your business. This is more important than ever in today’s highly saturated market, where new businesses are popping up left, right and centre. Even if you have a fantastic product, without a unique and memorable brand you’ll never stand out amongst the rest. This is why when it comes to selling online, you need to make sure you’re selling on multiple platforms to give yourself the best chance of success, instead of solely restricting yourself to online marketplaces, where you’re actively building their brand and reputation, and not yours.
We are by no means suggesting you shouldn’t sell your products on an online marketplace. In fact, online marketplaces are brilliant facilitators for ecommerce newbies, as it’s quick and straghtforward to get your products listed. Platforms such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy have already established a huge online presence, so they are familiar and trustworthy to consumers.
They also all spend hefty amounts of money on marketing their platform, which results in a high volume of traffic for you, and a quick, easy solution for making an extra bit of money on the side. However, they shouldn’t be your only source of income if you’re looking to grow a sustainable and marketable business in the long-term.
WHY YOU CAN’T BUILD A BRAND WITH ONLINE MARKETPLACES
If you’ve used an online marketplace before, you’re probably aware of how little room there is for customisation. For example, while you can create your own eBay shop within the eBay marketplace, the customisation for your page is quite restricted. This means your shop will follow a similar template to everyone else’s, giving it a generic look and feel or worst still getting suspended for unknowingly breaching a policy.
Not only are you restricted when visually representing your brand, it’s also quite difficult to get your brand name out there. Many shoppers don’t realise that when they place an order with an online marketplace, they’re actually buying from individual sellers and not the marketplace itself. The inability to distinguish between the two makes it twice as hard for you to establish your shop as a brand in it’s own right – you’re an extension of their brand.
YOU’RE UP AGAINST FIERCE COMPETITION AND HUNGRY COMPETITORS
Differentiating your brand is even more tricky when you’re up against such fierce competition. Online marketplaces make it really easy for you to make comparisons of the same products, or similar products, that are offered by competing sellers. So easy, in fact, that their products appear on the same pages as yours, even on your own product listings, e.g. ‘people who viewed this item also viewed’. Whereas, when you have your own ecommerce site, everything on there is yours and you have full control over the content.
Online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon are renowned for their low-prices and unbeatable bargains. Because of this, customers will shop around to find the best deal they possibly can, and it doesn’t matter who they buy it from. If you’re constantly battling with cheaper competitors, or finding ways to lower your prices, you’re going to struggle to making a significant income from online marketplaces.
- Easy to use
- They already have an online presence
- The site receives high volumes of traffic
- They’re a great additional source of income
- Some marketplaces offer a more targeted audience (e.g. Etsy)
- They have huge marketing budgets
- Online marketplaces have seller protection programs in place
- The marketplace handles the transaction
- Marketplace fees (a % of each sale)
- They have full control
- You can’t customise your shop or build a brand
- They can make changes to their policies without prior notice
- It’s hard to gain customer loyalty
- Competition is high
- Customers expect lower price points
- Your domain is an extension of the marketplace (e.g. ebay.co.uk/thebikeshed)
- You can’t communicate post-sale except through the platform (outside the platform is a breach and can lead to account suspension)
We always encourage our customers to make the transition from their eBay / Amazon / Etsy shop or other channels to their online shop by:
- Including both your marketplace link and your online shop link on your social media profiles
- Offering an incentive to your customers to place an order at your online shop such as; discounts, coupon codes, loyalty points, free gifts or free delivery
This will gradually move your customers away from other platforms to your online shop so that they can see you as a solo brand.