Gone are the days when people planned a visit to a mall to purchase clothes, shoes, electronic gadgets, and even groceries. Such a visit would take at least half a day: traveling to the mall, finding a parking space for your car, checking out various products before making a decision, purchasing the items and then traveling back home with your products. The entire process is, no doubt, time consuming, but it is also inefficient. That is why more and more people are shifting to online shopping, which enables shoppers to compare items and purchase what they like in a matter of minutes.
In fact, online shopping has been on the rise the past few years. According to Statista, online sales amounted to US$2.3 trillion in 2017 and this number is expected to increase to US$4.48 trillion by 2021. These figures are too big to be ignored. So, if you are a retailer, it’s time you had a strong online presence because that’s where your potential customers are—on Amazon, eBay, HomeShop18, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Koovs, and many more online marketplaces. Then is it sufficient to have an online presence on these sites without having a website? The answer, which may come as a shock to many, is No.
Online marketplaces are a great way to reach out to people who may have never heard of your brand because these sites get a lot of traffic on a daily basis. Amazon alone has over 300 million active users and in December 2017, it received over 3 billion visits. That is the extent of visibility of your products when they are displayed on online marketplaces. Even though there is immense potential for sales on online marketplaces, promoting your products only on these sites is not sustainable. Let me explain how having your own website, alongside a strong presence on marketplaces, will help you achieve more sales in the long run:
Greater control over branding & content
When you have your own website, you have the freedom to display your products as per your requirement and taste. That gives you the opportunity to create a brand for yourself. You can be as creative as you want—have videos to supplement product description, promote add-on products that your potential customers may cherish, and share reviews of customers that were delighted by your products and amazing service. You may not get this flexibility on online marketplaces as they expect sellers to adhere to certain guidelines, which may result in the stifling of your brand.
Access to customers’ details
We all know that the cost of repeat business is significantly lower than that of a new business. So, if you had access to the information of your customers, you could promote new products and services to them at a lower cost and this would be sustainable in the long run. This is possible only through your website, where information about your customers is captured. When a purchase is made on an online marketplace, customers’ information is handled and stored by the online marketplace and not passed on to the seller. So, as a retailer, you will not have access to information for retargeting for future sales which would have been very easy task via marketing automation.
Higher exposure of products
While online marketplaces attract millions of potential customers every day, thereby making your products visible to that many people, it also means that they have products from hundreds of sellers on display. So, how can your product stand out from the crowd? It can be difficult, especially when marketplaces such as Amazon have their own inventory that they are pushing to customers. This issue can be avoided on your own website, where no other brands are competing for customers’ attention. Of course, this is possible only if a customer knows about your brand or has purchased your product before.
No additional fees
Promoting a product on an online marketplace comes at a cost—the marketplace fees. These fees vary and can be a huge blow to your revenue, especially when you are selling a low-margin product. So, instead of relying only on marketplaces for the sale of your products, invest in a website so that customers have another avenue for the purchase.
So, having a presence on online marketplaces is definitely important, but it is equally important to have your own website for long-term success. A website is your very own online shop, which provides you with the flexibility to present your products in the best way possible, without any limitations. This is indeed essential for branding. So, to all retailers out there, if you are keen to make it big and have your business running for long, keep all channels open. Each channel has its own set of benefits—so, leverage them completely. Get your website up and running today, but at the same time don’t forget the power of online marketplaces.