Keeping Ecommerce Independent: Individual Web Stores vs. Large Online Marketplaces

The “buy local” movement continues to build momentum in the United States. Major cities including Portland, Austin, and even SkuVault’s home base in Louisville, Kentucky, have created citywide branding campaigns to encourage their citizens to support local stores, farmers and entrepreneurs.

While this movement is typically geared more towards brick and mortar retail, ecommerce businesses often face a similar dilemma. Is it better to sell their products through their own web store or through major online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay? The answer, unfortunately, is: it depends. There are important pros and cons of each side that you should consider before making a final decision for your business.

Personalizing the Shopping Experience 

Selling through your own online store allows you to market products in unique and distinguishable ways. It also gives you the freedom to add personality into your site. It effectively humanizes the shopping experience for visitors and provides a personal touch. By giving buyers a chance to connect with your store and brand, you create a sense of trust that can pave the road for customer loyalty and increase the chances of repeat purchases.

On the other hand, selling through Amazon and eBay provides instantaneous customer trust and loyalty because your store is featured in well-known and established marketplaces.

As a new company with a new store, it may take time to develop the same kind of trust with your clients. However, if your product is truly unique, it may be worth your while to sell independently. With the millions of sellers and products listed on Amazon, it can be very difficult to make your products stand out. In addition, many shoppers on these marketplaces are looking for low prices, which may not be the best fit for unique offerings.

Getting Lost in the Shuffle

On large marketplace sites like Amazon or eBay, there will likely be thousands of other sellers potentially featuring the same products as you. And, these products will most likely contain a similar, possibly even word for word, product description. When selling through larger online stores, product descriptions, photos and titles are the only true way to differentiate your products.

Although your products may become indistinguishable from those of other sellers’, and potentially difficult to find, you will still receive plenty of traffic on these channels.  Even if your product is similar to another sellers’, it will still be seen by thousands of shoppers, because these marketplaces see high volumes of traffic on a daily basis. So if you’re going to receive views regardless of how well branded your product is, why not sell on your own store as well as Amazon and eBay?

Multiple Marketplace Madness

Many sellers consider featuring products on multiple marketplaces. The initial benefit of this seems evident:

More Listings + More Traffic = More Sales

This tactic, however, comes with its own set of sometimes-unforeseen challenges. Each marketplace has its own set of guidelines that users must abide by. For example, both Amazon and eBay have their own shipping regulations, marketplace fees and criteria for gauging your ranking as a seller.

When selling multiple products via multiple channels, following the guidelines for each channel becomes a daily task. And not following these guidelines can lead to poor customer reviews and lower selling rankings, and even result in being banned from selling.

What is Best for Your Business?

The thought of designing and maintaining an independent online shop is intimidating to many ecommerce retailers out there. This is ultimately why many turn to Amazon and eBay to list their products. However, with companies like Volusion and SkuVault, creating your own customized channel and maintaining the inventory that you’re selling has never been easier. Selling independently can be extremely rewarding and allows you to differentiate yourself as an established eCommerce retailer, instead of “someone who sells on eBay”.

When deciding where to sell your product, the decision depends on how unique and marketable your product is. For example, if you are selling horror movies, creating your own store may be futile because these products can be found in abundance on Amazon and eBay. However, if you believe your product is truly unique and deserves the time and effort to be marketed individually, it’s worth looking into selling via your own online store. If it is a more generic product, it is probably best to let Amazon and eBay do the marketing while you sit back and watch the sales flow in.

Regardless of your situation, there are plenty of channels to effectively sell products online. By taking a close look at your business goals and products, you can create a more effective roadmap that will set you up for future selling success!