There are two routes you can take in selling online, building your own website or using a third party seller (marketplace) Let’s define what we mean by these:
Building a website: An independent eCommerce site that is run by the seller, where products are sold directly by the seller and profits are kept solely by the seller. A site that would be built using a platform such as Magento, WooCommerce, and Shopify.
A marketplace: A third party seller who lists your products for sale. Third parties include retailers such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
This is probably the biggest challenge you’ll face. Because like any new business there will be money constraints and probably quite a tight budget that you’d like to keep to. However, your budget will most likely fall in line with how you want your business to progress. If this is a small business venture with no desire to grow, a third party seller may have the advantage. Creating an account on a third-party site is virtually cost-free and listing your products is pretty simple. However, as you start to make a profit you are likely to be charged listing fees and a percentage of each sale you make, which could work out less cost-effective in the future.
If this is a new business venture with plans expand, building your own site might be the right fit for you. Although you will be faced with upfront costs in the way of paying developers, domains and hosting, if your planning for a bright future, then it will be a sound investment for your business. That being said, it does all depends on the scope of your business plan and the budget you have, as neither options are free.
You should also take into consideration your marketing strategy when planning for your eCommerce store. How are you going to promote your business to a customer who is not yet aware of your brand? A benefit to a third party provider is that you are able to promote your business quickly to an existing customer base, taking the pressure off you in the initial stages in getting your name out there.
If you choose to build your own site, you must have a marketing strategy in place whether it be social media, pay-per-click advertising, partnerships and so on, to ensure you are reaching the following you aim to attract. Although a third-party site may give you that initial boost you need to create a following, that will fade over time, and what you need to keep in mind is your key customer. At some stage, the needs of your customer will extend further than a small product listing. By having your own site, you have ownership of everything on it, from products, to design and social links, your customer is solely focused on your brand.
If you are planning to build an online business with longevity, you want to be sure your eCommerce store is running for years to come. Building your own website ensures stability for you and your customer, that you are always able to sell your products. If you choose to list on a third party site, there is a chance, in the future that the site may go out of business, then you are left to start from the beginning and rebuild your business. The reassurance with your own website is that you can control the pace and running of your business and if the unfortunate does happen you have backups in place.
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