In this day and age it is extremely tough for a brick and mortar shop to really grow their ecommerce business strictly through their own website. With all of the big online box stores controlling (and paying for) the search results on google, it’s next to impossible for a shop to get the products from their website in front of potential customers. While it is still important to have as many products as possible on your website, as it won’t ever stand a chance to sell online if it isn’t out there and your local exposure to customers will only increase, your website should not be what you trust to grow your online business. It may sting a little bit thinking about letting someone else make money on your products but in order to really grow and gain more customers these days, that is exactly what you will need to do.
With online marketplaces, such as amazon, ebay, etc., you instantly have exposure to customers that you never stood a chance to reach via your own site and marketing tools/dollars. When I think about these marketplaces, I do not necessarily think about them taking a piece of the pie when I sell something, but instead I think about them as a marketing company that I pay to get my products in the eyes and hands of more customers! The amount of business that you can capture on these marketplaces would take you an incredible amount of marketing dollars and even then, you still would not have the trust of customers, as they do not know your brand. With these marketplaces, your products are put right in front of customers and your shop is backed by a reputation that you don’t have (yet). When you start to think about these fees as marketing dollars and not just someone reaching into your company’s pockets and taking your profit, you can really start to see these fees as money well spent.
Obviously, as a small/medium sized retailer, we know that margin is crucial, as we have to not only maintain an eCommerce business but we still have to worry about the overhead of our brick and mortar shop. There will be less margin on your products sold via marketplaces but the potential margin that can come from gaining these new customers can be endless! How do you make this happen? Make sure that every order that goes out includes a little something extra. Maybe a postcard with a handwritten note or a coupon code to your website? Some may throw in a sticker or two! These little things can go a long way as the big box chains have eliminated this personal touch from their shipments. You’ve got to remind these online customers that there is a real human behind the products and one that supports them for their future purchases. Creating this relationship can bring continuous sales for years to come and you’ll laugh at ever worrying about those fees that the original marketplace sale took from you. Because you will have taken the customer from the marketplace and virtually brought them into your store!
Since there will be less margin on some of your marketplace sales, you do want to make sure that your pricing is not too aggressive, causing you to just spin your tires. I wouldn’t recommend giving things away just for the sake of potentially gaining a customer, but each shop knows the margin that is needed to survive and thrive. Be aware of this margin as you price items, accept offers, and run promotions but keep in mind that you could be spending 100x this amount on marketing dollars if you tried to reach these same customers. And remember…each sale and customer you make on marketplaces, is one you didn’t have before! There are millions of potential customers out there searching for products and you probably have a shop full of them! Whether it’s the newest items out or old, dusty stock, get those products uploaded to your website and online marketplaces and watch them sell! The more you list, the more you will sell. And the more you sell, the more customers you can create a relationship with that can last a lifetime!