Selling on an ecommerce marketplace that you don’t own is risky business.
Sure, you might be killing it on Etsy right now, but what if they redesign their search results page and change their search algorithm?
Even a slight change to their layout or search function can make a huge impact to your business. This is exactly what happened in October 2015:
I’m based in the uk and have seen a massive decrease in sales over the past week. I sell 98% of my invitations to the USA and have therefore geared certain products towards that market. I know etsy is saying that the new localisation means that it won’t effect USA and Australian products in USA search, but I’m pretty sure it must do.
Whatever etsy has done over the past week is going to put me out of business, i really don’t know what to do. – Source
Selling on marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy should be a part of your ecommerce strategy, but your website should be the main focus. Think of your website as the wheel and marketplaces as the spokes. Something as small as copying and pasting your product descriptions from Etsy can be catastrophic to your SEO.
In this podcast, I interview Tracey Wallace From BigCommerce to discuss:
- Why now is the perfect time to launch your own ecommerce site
- How to grow from a startup to $1M in annual sales
- Why product photos can make or break your ecommerce business
- Why your ecommerce platform and design should match your business model
- How generational buying habits impact multichannel sales
- What are the features to look for in choosing an ecommerce platform
- Why Tracey Wallace is so much cooler than me 🙂
- Shoptiques – an ecommerce marketplace for brick and mortar boutiques
- The Top 5 Reasons You Should Start an Ecommerce Business
- The Most Successful Retailers are Increasingly Omnichannel; Here’s What That Means and Why it Matters
- This Teen Paid for College by Selling on Etsy. Here Are 5 Ways She Did It.
- BigCommerce Developer Portal
Tweetables and Takeaways
We have a guy selling laptop replacement keys, he’s insanely successful. There is a ton of people selling paint online, all this guy did was optimize SEO better than they did. – Tracey (12:42)
You don’t want to not be on Amazon, right. But there are certainly some downsides and merchant fears around putting their products on Amazon. At that point, you don’t own the customer experience. – Tracey (16:20)
First of all, if you are creating your own SKU’s, your own products – something unique to the marketplace. As long as it is unique and you’re not dropshipping or pulling it in from someone else. You are in the best possible bucket to be one of the most successful retailers out there. Starting on Etsy with unique SKU’s is extremely common. – Tracey (18:20)
Ecommerce is like grocery shopping. If it's not packaged well, nobody is going to pick it up. Tracey (27:30) Click To Tweet
The abandoned cart feature comes standard with BigCommerce. If somebody puts something in your cart and then leaves your site… they will get an email reminding them about it. For most of our merchants they are gaining about 15% of of those abandoned carts. Sales they would have not had otherwise. – Tracey (26:08)
First impressions matter a lot to us. Design is important.Click To Tweet You only have 3 seconds to help someone decide to if they want to buy. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, you lose. - 30:13 Click To Tweet
The way that an ecommerce site is designed is really going to depend on the type of site you are. If you’re only selling 10 SKUs or don’t have a lot of SKU’s in general, you can push forward with a beautiful, aesthetic site design. Whereas if you’re someone that’s selling auto parts and you have hundreds of thousands SKU’s on your backend…site search is going to be more important to you than the design. – Tracey (28:15)
Whats the first thing you need to do to start selling on your own website?
Fraud is not a joke, y'all 🙂Click To Tweet
Beyond getting your product photos and all that stuff up there, you need to instill customer trust in your checkout process…You need to be sure that your ecommerce platform has fraud protection in place. Also that you’re working with payment companies that customers already trust. – Tracey (31:28)
What makes someone turn from a browser to a Amazon repetitive shopper is time. - Tracey (37:00) Click To Tweet
Mobile is extremely important. For anyone looking to optimize their mobile strategy…mobile purchases are by and far that instant gratification purchase. So be sure to market your cool to haves products on mobile. – Tracey (34:20)
You don't have to put a lot of spend behind these things (advertising) to make them work. A/B test your ads and once you see ROI coming in from those channels, double down. - Tracey (41:20)Click To Tweet
It sounds like a good strategy to start selling on your own website is to make sure that your products are being exposed to where your customer is. Maybe some Facebook ads or Google PLAs. People are not necessarily searching for products, they might just happen to stumble on your brand and turn into a loyal customer. – Darren (40:40)
Be sure to listen to the entire podcast to get all the nuggets of advice Tracey shared with us.
Here is a Quick Overview of Some of the Top eCommerce Marketplaces:
Amazon is the reigning King of eCommerce. 44% of consumers start their product searches on Amazon and to win here, you need to compete on price. Depending on category, fees range from 8%-25%. Amazon’s fulfillment program (FBA) is a major draw for ecommerce businesses, but you give up a lot by letting Amazon own the customer experience. You can sell as an individual or a professional.
eBay is best suited for selling memorabilia in an auction-style format, but you can also sell items for a fixed price. You can calculate fees here.
eBay annual sales is estimated around $18B.
If there is an ecommerce company that can take on Amazon, it is Alibaba. Alibaba is better suited for B2B ecommerce. It is a great website for sourcing material or buying in bulk to dropship.
Estimated annual sales on Alibaba is around $12B.
Etsy is known for being the handmade marketplace. People sell anything from jewelry to vintage-style furniture and more. Etsy charges a transaction fee of 3.5%.
Etsy sales are estimated at $2B/year.
With Bonanza, you can import your products directly from Amazon, Ebay and Etsy. Bonanza positions itself more like an ecommerce platform than marketplace. They have marketing features like shopping engine product submission and customer coupons, but you’re still selling on their site. They have a monthly fee and a transaction fee.
Rakuten scooped up buy.com and is Japan’s largest ecommerce company. Its similar to Bonanza in that you can customize your store and add marketing. They also have monthly plans with transaction fees ranging from 8%-15%.
Jet.com is new kid on the block (launched summer 2015), but it’s growing fast. It’s clear that they want to take on Amazon, but are positioning themselves as a low price marketplace. In this case, I recommend either avoiding the marketplace, or having a limited product offering there. After Black Friday 2015, it was valued over $1B. Not bad for a few months.