Deciding where to sell products online may sometimes be a difficult decision to make as many people are caught between selling on a market place and creating their own website. Whereas each option has its own pros and cons – and there is no one-size-fits all solution that works perfectly for everyone, I believe businesses that are truly serious about ecommerce should have their own website.
Obviously, market places like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Walmart can be great challenges for many merchants, but there are many limitations. According to History of Ecommerce, customers will soon expect to be able to “research, browse, shop, and purchase seamlessly between different devices and on different platforms like a standalone web store, an Amazon presence, etc. – a market place alone is not enough.
Why your ecommerce company needs its own website
Learn why a standalone ecommerce website is absolutely necessary if you want your business to be around for the long-run.
1. Create a customer email list and market directly to them
One of the most important aspects of having your own website is that you can market directly to website visitors and customers. Unlike marketplaces, where people who buy your products are the customers of the marketplace, selling directly to consumers on your website means you get to collect their contact information. When you have your customer’s email addresses, you can send them promotions, offer discounts, and announce new products.
Getting repeat buyers is much more difficult on a market place, because you don’t have direct access to your customers. This gives you fewer opportunities to provide good customer service and promote your other products. Since it’s easier and cheaper to retain a customer than it is to get a new one, communicating with existing customers is a necessary part of generating revenue for your business.
Not only do you know who has bought from you in the past, but you also know what they bought, how much they spent, and what they are interested in. You can use this information to influence and suggest future purchases.
2. Establish and strengthen your brand
When you sell your products on a marketplace, they are listed in a generic way. From character limits or word count restrictions to logo usage, there is little to no room for customization or branding. In fact, it is the marketplace’s brand that is in the forefront – not yours. This makes it nearly impossible to build brand awareness and recognition.
Most of the time, visitors and customers assume your product belongs to the marketplace without realizing you even exist. In other words, those who purchase your product will remember the marketplace instead of you.
Your goal should be for consumers to associate your product with your brand and think of your brand when they think of that category. When you run your own website, you get to maintain full control, including the way it looks, what it says, and how it works. The possibilities are endless. You can even reinforce your brand during the unboxing experience and use custom boxes to leave a lasting impression on your customers. Best of all, you get credit for your product – not a third-party market place!
3. Learn more about your audience
Having your own ecommerce website helps you better understand your customers. This includes demographics such as their location, as well as how they found your website and heard about you. You can analyze their behaviour on your website, like what they looked at and the path they took to buy from you.
If there are certain traffic sources that are bringing great customers for your business, you can choose to focus efforts there and put more money into those channels since you know they are profitable.
Not only do you gain information about your existing customers, but you can also learn information about where those who didn’t end up making purchase feel off. Maybe it’s a product page that doesn’t have enough customer reviews or good enough photos, or perhaps people are abandoning shopping cards due to high shipping costs.
Just as critically, you need to use these insights to make improvements and optimize your website to increase conversions and help you sell more.
4. Make your own rules
With running your own ecommerce store comes the freedom to more directly impact the customer journey:
- You can add photos and videos in certain places.
- You can alter the layout and navigation.
- You can change the color scheme and website theme.
- You can edit button placement and text.
- You can tell your company’s story.
- You can add a blog.
- You can feature certain customers.
Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about your competitors’ products popping up next to yours like you would with a marketplace.
You can also decide how you group and price products, and whether you want to offer free shipping. Offering something for free can influence consumer behavior, as customers want to believe they are getting a good deal.
5. Run creative marketing campaigns
Just because you have your own website doesn’t mean customers will automatically come flocking to you. Once you have a store, you will have to work to get shoppers there. The first step to acquiring customers is to drive traffic to your site. It’s not always easy to set up the right campaigns; however, you have a lot more flexibility with the ways you can get people to find and buy from you.
Some common tactics include using Facebook and Google ads to reach your audience. You can also create content for your website by researching and incorporating the keywords people use to search for solutions like yours. You have the ability to run promotions or flash sales to generate interest and retarget past purchasers.
Having your own website is an important piece of your ecommerce strategy. It is a great way for you to grow your brand, acquire loyal customers, gain new insights, and get creative with your marketing. However, relying on a single channel for all your sales can also be problematic. Diversifying where you sell online can help you reach new customers, especially as ecommerce becomes more competitive.