Congratulations, you’ve done it. You’ve created your online store. The only problem is you can’t be found on Google and you’ve had 4 visitors in the past month. Having an independent online store is a dream for many, but it can be difficult to get noticed. That’s why many online retailers choose to also sell on the marketplaces. Although it means relinquishing some control and some of your profit margin, selling on the marketplaces will help you capture more sales.
1. Create a strategy.
Every marketplace is different and appeals to a different customer base. Modify product descriptions from marketplace to marketplace to better suit your target customer. Pick and choose which products you’ll list on eBay vs Amazon, don’t simply list all the products from your independent site on each marketplace. Having something different from your own site can also help the item perform better in search results. I suggest you study competitors with the same or similar product to see who is beating you on price and who is offering free shipping so you can adjust where it makes sense for your business.
2. Build your customer database.
While established marketplaces are great ways to increase product exposure, most do not share customer data such as contact information. This makes it difficult to build your customer list and communicate with them in the future about marketing campaigns or promotions.
To build your contact database, utilize application forms for free products, contest entry forms, product warranty cards, and subscriptions to product newsletters. You can add custom inserts when shipping a product that request they visit your online store for a free giveaway in exchange for an email address. The freebie can be anything: an e-book, a discount, etc.
3. Stand out.
The days of throwing up a product and hoping it will do well are over. Seeing as eBay and Amazon make money off transaction fees, it’s in their interest to put your competitors’ similar or even identical products right next to yours. It pays to give some thought as to why someone would buy your item over your competitor’s identical item. If you’re thinking cost is your only differentiator. Think again. Most consumers live by the rule that you get what you pay for. Customers would rather purchase a quality item with great reviews, than the cheapest listing. You have to create an image and a brand that consumers can trust.
Kitting and Bundling is also a great way to differentiate your product listing on the marketplace. By bundling items, you can create a unique package of products. And since this unique listing is unlikely to have any other listings like it, you will be without competitors. For example, you can bundle leather cleaner with the appropriate sponge, or loose leaf tea with a tea infuser. By pairing compatible or complementary items, you take the guesswork out of shopping online.
4. Be selective.
Make sure you have a reason for selling on each marketplace and re-evaluate it seasonally. Not every channel makes sense for every business. Understand what sells on each marketplace and if this matches your product offering. Please see below for a general guide.
- eBay – Used, rare, hard-to-find items. Automotive parts and accessories
- Amazon – All products but high competition. Likely will need to sell at low margins.
- Etsy – Handmade and artistic, novelty items
- NewEgg – Electronics
- Half.com – Books
- Rakuten – Primarily Japanese customers. Must appeal to Japanese market.
- Overstock – Linens and house hold items. Must apply to be a seller.
- Sears – All products. New marketplace, still establishing its niche.