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We are merchants and we sell products.

We are at a crossroads: do we create e-commerce on our website, or do we sell through large marketplaces like Amazon?

This is the question we are trying to answer today and to do so, let’s start by making a list of the pros and cons for each of the two solutions:

Proprietary e-commerce

Pros:

Freedom!

We can manage our store as we see fit. We can organize our catalog as we want, arranging categories, tags, descriptions, and reviews with total freedom.

Branding

it’s OUR store. The audience visiting our store KNOWS who they are buying from.

Positioning

We can decide how to communicate our product, what positioning to give it. Highlight the peculiarities that we deem most appropriate to show, without having to reduce our competitive factor to the price.

Zero commissions

We don’t have to give a percentage of our sales to the platform we rely on. It all ends up in our pockets.

Control

Certainly, there will be no counterfeit versions of your products on your e-commerce. The same cannot be said of other platforms (see, for example, Nike vs Amazon).

Cons:

Development

E-commerce needs to be developed. It is certainly true that today many platforms make it extremely easy to have our store, but it is still a job that requires development.

Visibility

How many people know us? If we already have a large audience, a well-known website, a well-populated user database, then there are no problems. But if no one knows us?

Well then, in addition to development costs, we must bear the marketing expenses necessary to make our e-commerce known.

Distrust

“Is it safe to buy from this site?” Twenty years after the birth of PayPal, it may seem ridiculous to wonder such a thing, and yet some still fear being tricked and falling victim to some kind of scam. And we have to deal with this distrust…

Logistics and delivery

Having a warehouse, managing inventory, providing shipments, and providing forms of insurance for those who have to receive a package in tight times… these are all elements that cannot be underestimated when taking on an activity like proprietary e-commerce.

Customer care

Once a product is sold, the customer journey is not over!

The product may not meet expectations, it may arrive late, there may be errors in the invoice, it may be damaged… and all these things fall into the big world of “customer care.” Resolving all these problems requires time and resources; and in proprietary e-commerce, it is up to us to address all these issues.

Large Marketplace

Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, Aliexpress, Justeat, Booking… whether you are interested in B2C, B2B, food delivery, or the hospitality sector, it doesn’t matter: there is a platform for you!

What are the good and bad aspects of being present on these platforms?

Pros:

Traffic and visibility

The strength of these platforms is that they have become points of reference! Users turn to these platforms to check prices, read reviews, or even just to “fill virtual carts”.

Being present on these platforms means having the opportunity to make ourselves visible to millions of potential customers every day, without having to incur promotion and marketing expenses.

Logistics

You won’t have to worry about managing inventories, shipments, timing, and all the other tasks necessary to make the user’s purchasing process as simple as possible.

Security

Despite there still being many people who are “afraid of the web,” purchasing on large platforms like Amazon is now something common.

Cons:

But as we mentioned at the beginning, not everything that glitters is gold. Many retailers think that “the evil” of large marketplaces is “the commission” that is deducted from each transaction, but that is the least of the problems! As we have already said, that commission is the result of the wide range of services related to security, logistics, and visibility that such platforms offer. But there is more:

Anonymity

“I bought it on Amazon.” How many times have you heard this phrase?

The next time you hear it, try asking your interlocutor “yes, but specifically who is the Amazon seller you bought that item from?”. I’m pretty sure that 90% of them won’t be able to answer you.

This is because in large marketplaces you are just one of many.

Marketing Mix

You can safely take all your marketing and communication and throw it in the trash. Remember the famous 4 Ps of the marketing mix? You can throw away 3 of them.

Only the price counts. The audience will order items “from the cheapest” and you will have to be in the first available positions. That’s all. All your value proposition will be limited to the price.

So what? What to choose? What to do?

Try to take the best of both worlds.

Take from the large marketplaces the opportunity to show yourself to a large audience. Use the customer support service to get in touch with your customers and create direct contacts, generate leads, redirect traffic to your web properties. The so-called “loss leaders” are perfect for this purpose, use the current trends to understand which products to use for this purpose.

Once on your website, do your communication, use different sales variables than price, communicate your value, retain the customer, come out of anonymity, and make your brand memorable for your customers.