According to a 2017 study, 80% of the online population has bought a product using the internet. Ready to get in on the trend and sell products online? The decision to host your products via an individual store on an Ecommerce platform versus a large marketplace is one of the first choices you’ll have to make when starting to sell products online. Because of the recent boom in online sales, there are tons of options optimized for different needs. Though significant differences exist between platforms like Etsy and Amazon, we are going to group them together for now, because they operate in similar ways.
What should you keep in mind as you’re making your decision? It can seem overwhelming, so we’ve broken it down into four questions to ask yourself while you get going.
4 Questions to Ask Before you Sell Products Online
Ready? Let’s go.
1. How will I stand out from the crowd?
The major advantage of choosing to sell products online in a marketplace is getting your product in front of a lot of eyes. Remember, though, that platforms like Amazon are first concerned with their own profits. Sponsored products, Amazon fulfillment, and 2-day shipping options are difficult to compete with and can all work against you. As an individual seller, it’s easy to get caught in a race to the bottom, slashing your prices to compete. While a marketplace will show your product to a lot of people, it won’t stand out. There are few (if any) unique branding options.
This is a problem because branding can make or break a business. Repeat business is built initially through a recognizable brand, then by reconnecting later. Good branding also establishes authority. As a seller, you will likely be doomed to a degree of anonymity on a marketplace, making it difficult to bring customers back for more.
2. How will I market my product?
On a marketplace, options for marketing your product are extremely limited. You can post links to items on social media or your blog, but in general, you need to rely on Amazon or Etsy to feature your items. Depending on the amount of time and effort you want to put into selling online, this may or may not be a significant obstacle. A marketplace will get your product out there with the greatest ease. Have a low-cost method for getting and shipping your product? You should be good to compete.
If you are hoping to sell products online longer-term and build a sustainable business, though, the limitations of a marketplace can become stifling. As mentioned above, content marketing is a huge part of getting your product out there. Blogging, vlogging, and more can be extremely effective, particularly if combined with easy access to your store. A unique, easy-to-remember URL makes it significantly easier to show off your store and drive traffic. SEO and tools like Google AdWords can give your business that all-important leg up in search engines.
It comes back to the connectivity between your brand and your product. A click funnel, or the ways that you move potential customers towards conversion, is a process that takes time,but pays off in the long term. If you’re looking to sell products online, this is something to consider carefully.
3. How will I establish trust with potential customers?
Credibility may not be your first concern when starting to sell products online, but investing in your persona early on will pay dividends for years to come. This works in a range of ways.
In selling a surprisingly broad range of items, you’ll find that you yourself are part of the product. Let’s say you decide to sell workout plans. Any education or experience you have in the field is vital for establishing you as a trustworthy source. Related information like nutrition tips builds your brand and your value to potential customers.
Establishing trust also extends into customer service and reviews. Remember that one of the biggest concerns with buying a product online is the difficulty of returns. Pro tip: regardless of the platform you choose, make sure that it is easy for customers to reach you with questions and concerns. Here’s a great guide to providing quality customer service online: 8 Customer Experience Tips for Ecommerce Businesses.
How does this stack up when comparing an Ecommerce platform and a marketplace? For one thing, the seller of a product is significantly less visible in a marketplace. It’s incredibly common to ask where someone bought a product and get the response “from Etsy” or “from eBay.” On a marketplace, customers also naturally gravitate towards sellers that have moved a lot of product with consistently good ratings. As a new seller, this puts you at a disadvantage as you start to sell products online.
A unique store allows you to centralize your online presence. By connecting social media and existing sites, featuring reviews, and building up a backbone of content, you can craft a recognizable, reputable online persona.
4. How will I grow my business over time?
This is probably the most important question you can ask getting started in Ecommerce. It also requires longer-term thought. It can be helpful to sit down and write out your goals. If you are trying to get rid of excess clutter in your life, say, by selling old clothing, children’s toys, etc., a marketplace may be a good way to go. If you have a unique product or service you want to provide and expand over time, though, the picture gets more complex.