Should You Sell through Marketplaces or Your Website? Why Not Both?

To be successful, you need to maintain a sell anywhere and everywhere attitude. The number of online purchases continues to grow every year.  E-commerce saw 2.3 trillion dollars in sales in 2017 and is predicted to exceed 4 trillion dollars by 2021. Some businesses rely on sales made through large online marketplaces, others depend solely on their website’s e-commerce ability. Let’s look at the advantages and challenges of both.

An online marketplace is a third-party site that lists products from a large number of sellers. They are, essentially, ecosystems of sellers and buyers. Marketplace selling offers a number of advantages beyond the obvious additional channels through which you can offer your products.

They have established, simple processes for both seller and buyer, to include a straightforward checkout process. The platforms utilize powerful technology to safeguard consumer data and are, consequently, highly trusted by consumers. Because these marketplaces have established trust with the general public, consumers feel more confident with the processes and protocols they have in place.

Listing your products through marketplaces gives your brand exposure to more prospective customers due to the sheer volume of traffic on these sites. Best of all, this is an engaged audience, they are usually looking because they are ready to buy. It also provides another opportunity for consumers to post reviews about your brand’s products which helps increase your SEO. Just selling products on marketplaces can actually boost your SEO because these platforms carry authority and will help your brand rank higher in search results.

There are, of course, challenges involved with using a marketplace to sell your brand. It will cost more to stand out. This is important with the increased competition since your items can be compared side-by-side with your competitors’ offerings during the search process. Also, some consumers may not connect your brand to the product they purchase and, instead, relate it to the marketplace platform from which the purchase was made.

When utilizing a marketplace to sell, you are unable to acquire customer data or overtly build brand loyalty. The marketplace maintains all consumer information obtained through purchases so businesses are unable to retarget customers. Another consideration is cost. It is important to understand the fees or percentage of sales charged by third-party marketplaces. Some charge to list, re-list, or for promotions. Additionally, each marketplace has guidelines of what may or may not be sold as well as established controls over what brands may share about themselves.

It is important to understand all aspects of third-party marketplaces as some may better fit your needs than others when it comes to customization, creative control, fees, and competitive pricing. Check out this article for more specific information.

The other option for online sales is the e-commerce store available through your website. With this choice, you maintain full control over all aspects of the shopping experience from start to finish so you can purposefully determine overall user experience, design, the customer journey, etc. You can highlight your brand’s personality and do anything you want to build customer loyalty.

With your own e-commerce store you also control the acquisition of customer data to include email addresses and purchasing behaviors. From this information you can build a segmented contact list and retarget consumers throughout the year with different promotions and buying opportunities.

The challenges of your own web store start with the set up which might require the assistance of professionals because it is more involved and takes more time than using an established marketplace. You also need to step up marketing efforts to increase traffic to your website and need to establish trusted payment channels like PayPal.

So why not do both? A multichannel approach makes the most sense as it allows you to take advantage of both channels. It’s important that all of your online sales efforts work together with fully integrated technologies. The good news is that platforms like Shopify exist that allow you to integrate into your e-commerce efforts marketplaces like eBay, Etsy and Amazon. These platforms allow you manage all of your product details from one place so you can use one central dashboard to manage customers, products, and sales. Shopify, for example, even lets you integrate shopping cart technology into existing websites so you aren’t starting over again.

You’ll want to strategically choose which products are to be displayed on your website e-commerce store and which will be listed on third-party marketplaces to make sure the ROI from each makes it worth the effort. Truly, you shouldn’t list all of your products everywhere as each platform has a different audience. Choose a marketplace or marketplaces that complement your online efforts. Be sure you don’t overlook the niche multi-vendor sites that may lend themselves to your products.

Businesses know that online channels provide the opportunity to sell merchandise all hours of the day. The convenience of marketplaces can’t be understated. They allow brands to tap into an existing infrastructure that simplifies both the process of selling and the process of buying. Why choose between an e-commerce store and online marketplaces when you can do both?

For more information about integrating marketplaces into your e-commerce efforts, Shopify, or for any of your marketing needs, contact Strategy Driven Marketing today.