Online marketplace or your own online store?
So, you’re finally taking a step into the online sales market. Problem is you don’t know where to start. You’ve heard setting up your own online store isn’t as complicated as it used to be. Some website and hosting providers even launch ad campaigns to position their online sales platform as an easy-to-setup and use solution.
On the other hand, you’ve surely heard about online marketplaces that also boast quick and easy ways to sell online. Now, like everything, there are both positive and negative aspects to each of these paths.
Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are the largest and most visited online marketplaces today and a general overview of them should paint a picture of how convenient they may be for you.
Small entry cost
The first and probably the most important factor that works in their favor is the very small entry cost. In order to start selling on any of these platforms the required investment is practically negligible. Even a very small retailer can setup their store with very little money down in regards to platform costs.
The down side, fees and commissions.
Naturally, Etsy, Amazon, and eBay need to profit from third parties selling merchandise on their site. Those fees provide the maintenance necessary to keep everything working smoothly that you would otherwise invest in your own platforms. Whether or not these charges balance out with the savings you made by not creating an online store yourself is something only you can determine.
Part of the reason these platforms have been so successful with third party retailers is how easy it is to get in, but also, to administer. From the shipping and handling to historical orders and even payment management can mean removing some very thorny problems from your plate.
The down side, a highly saturated market.
Many online retailers have found that these marketplaces mold perfectly to their business model. Likely you’d have to compete on a very even playing field where small price differences can have a huge impact on sales. Even on a site like Etsy, where artisans market extremely specialized products, you could find dozens, if not hundreds, of organic cotton knit cozies with cat designs. This makes it near impossible to differentiate yourself from the completion and takes most branding and sales experience out of your hands. An online store that you set up yourself would inherently have branding throughout and you could be in charge of the sales experience your customers go through.
SEO & SERP (Search Engine Results Page)
Online marketplaces have invested heavily in making sure they, and by extension your products, appear at or very near the top of the search results page. This alone should aid in closing sales.
The down side, no customer acquisition process.
When you’re selling through an online marketplace and not using your own site you can’t get a hold of a Facebook tracking pixel which would allow to retarget that customer later on. Also, upselling is very difficult. Since you can’t display your products as you choose pushing customers to buy more products is a challenge.
So with this in mind perhaps choosing between either of sales avenues will be a little easier. In the end your business model should determine what’s best for you. In some cases, it might even make sense to use both.
Let us know about your experiences with marketplaces or selling on your own site in the comments below. Till next time.