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Ecommerce: Amazon vs. Your Own Site

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In the wide open sea of ecommerce, Amazon is the biblical leviathan swallowing up the little fish. That’s no exaggeration! More and more small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are turning to the tech conglomerate for their needs. In fact, third-party seller products account for more than half of all units sold in Amazon stores—an average of more than 6,500 American products per minute. The benefits of selling on the largest global marketplace is obvious—built-in traffic, massive customer base, and reliable shipping & payment processing. What’s not to love?

Well, anyone who has ever considered starting an ecommerce business knows there are a lot of variables to consider. Strict guidelines, mounting fees, cutthroat competition from well-established brands. Building your own website is a great alternative if you want to maintain full control over your business and have the freedom to customize it however you please.

Of course, that in of itself has its own set of challenges. Understanding how to create a website, content marketing, optimizing your site for search engines and social media platforms. In any case, your product needs to be unique, your strategy needs to be viable, and you have to have all of the right resources at your disposal.

So, let’s consider our options.

Amazon Marketplace Platform

Amazon Marketplace is an ecommerce platform owned and operated by (you guessed it) Amazon that enables third-party sellers to sell new or used products on a fixed-price online marketplace alongside Amazon’s regular offerings. But to everyday online shoppers, the marketplace is indistinguishable from their everyday Amazon home page. With over 300 million customers shopping in Amazon stores worldwide, the marketplace has become a popular way for SMBs to reach a large audience.

The Pros

International reputation.

Amazon is a trusted, safe place to shop. Full stop. That $916.82B. net-worth is based on trust. Amazon’s brand has been built on the idea that if you buy something from them, it will be exactly what you want, when you want it, and how you want it.

When you sell on Amazon, you’re part of that brand prestige.

Low entry threshold.

Becoming an Amazon Seller is not only lucrative, but also easy to get started. All you have to do is create a seller account by picking one of their plans that best fits your business, upload your products, and start selling.

The best part is that you don’t need any experience or special skills. You just need a passion for selling and the willingness to learn from others who are already successful.

Fulfillment by Amazon.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that allows businesses to outsource order fulfillment to Amazon. FBA allows you to focus on your core business while Amazon takes care of the details.  Businesses send products to Amazon fulfillment centers and when a customer makes a purchase, Amazon picks, packs, and ships the order.

The Cons

High competition, high stakes.

As mentioned before, Amazon Marketplace has some cutthroat competition. The fact that there are a ton of sellers on Amazon means it’s not easy for you to stand out from the crowd. To be successful on platform, you need to have a unique selling proposition (USP), consistent and professional branding, and stellar reviews.

If you don’t have these things, it will be extremely difficult for you to compete with other sellers in your niche.

Control, or the lack thereof.

Amazon Marketplace is a privilege, not a right. Sellers must adhere to a strict guideline of conduct. If a seller violates any company terms, policies, or conditions. Amazon has the right to suspend or even terminate a seller’s account.

While it is possible to have your account reinstated, it’s not always easy. The process can be lengthy and frustrating.

Fees, fees, & more fees.

With efficiency comes fees, and Amazon always get their due. Selling plans, referral fees, fulfillment and inventory fees, among others. These are all costs to consider when deciding whether or not to sell on the platform. But, these costs can be offset by the increased revenue you’re likely to see as well.

Crafting Your Own Ecommerce Website

Building an e-commerce site from scratch can be daunting—there’s a lot to consider and plan for: Site design, functionality, cost, and user experience. Just to name a few. If you have the time, money, and resources to build your own e-commerce site from scratch, by all means go for it! With that in mind, here are some of the many advantages (and disadvantages) to crafting your own website.

The Pros

Brand personality & loyalty.

It’s not just about the products anymore; it’s about the brand. As consumers become more aware of the brands they purchase from, they’re looking for companies they can trust. This is where you come in. You have the opportunity to really showcase what makes your brand and your products so unique—and build a loyal following of customers who love what you do!

It’s all about you.

The advantage of selling on your website is that you have complete control over the content, layout design, and selling method. This means you can offer a seamless, personalized shopping experience that keeps your customers coming back for more.

Know thy customer.

Since you’ll have direct access to customer information, you can engage in targeted customer marketing and relationship-building activities. For instance, you can create a loyalty program for your customers and offer exclusive discounts. You can also build relationships with these customers by sending them special offers or rewards based on their preferences and past purchases.

The Cons

Less reach, less customers.

Starting your own website from scratch also means building your own brand identity, as well as creditability. This can be a challenge for those just starting out, and it’s important to keep in mind that your website is a representation of who you are as an individual, or as a company. You want to make sure that your site looks professional and clean, and that it conveys the same message you hope to get across through your social media profiles.

Order management & customer support woes.

Again, your It is your responsibility to fix your website if it goes down for any reason. You are also in charge of handling any arising technical problems. In addition to packaging and shipping out orders, managing returns, and what not. You can outsource this work if you want, but in the end it’s still up to you.

Initial start-up fees.

The initial start-up cost for starting your own website is quite hefty. You have to buy your domain name, host the site, and pay for all of the required software to build it.

However, if you are a beginner, it is highly advisable to hire a web developer to help get your website up and running. This way, you can learn the ins and outs of how websites work. Without having to worry about coding or other technical aspects.

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