Large shopping websites like eBay and Amazon can be a great way for retailers to get new customers - in fact many online businesses take almost all of their orders through websites like eBay or Amazon, even if they have their own website. But it’s not all a bed of roses - there are several downsides for retailers that use large online stores. Find out how to drive existing customers from large shopping websites directly to your website...
The Big AdvantageThe reason that these super-sites are so useful to retailers is that they increase the visibility of products that would otherwise never be found online. For lots of small online retailers, eBay and Amazon get their products sold while their own websites are lost in obscurity on Google’s search results, never to be found.
DisadvantagesThe number one disadvantage of selling on large shopping sites is the cost imposed by the site: a seller can expect to pay in the region of 20% in fees to eBay by the time they include Paypal fees and Seller Fees. With Amazon the costs are even higher - more like 25%!
eBay sellers are effectively tied to using Paypal and this can come with problems. For example, Paypal regularly holds a merchants balance for several days, preventing them from withdrawing funds while they carry out routine checks. This can occur at short notice and could be a real hassle for small businesses if their cash-flow is stopped when employees’ wages are due.
eBay and Amazon show many different sellers’ products alongside each other - this can be a bad thing for sellers that have a regular customers who keep on coming back as they may end up buying a competitor’s product instead.
The SolutionSo, if you are an online retailer, it can make sense to use eBay and Amazon to get new customers but then to channel returning customers to your own website. But it’s against the terms and conditions of these shopping sites to advertise or even mention your own website - if you do that you could end up getting banned from the site altogether.
However, there is nothing to stop you from emailing your customers independently and including details of your own website in the email. When a customer makes a purchase via Paypal or credit card they’ll almost always include an email address. The customer will be expecting to receive emails from you since they have just bought something from you - this can be a good time to convert a new customer to a returning customer. It is also an excellent opportunity to direct that customer to your own website... add them to your email list right away!
MethodsHere are some methods that can be used when trying to channel customers to your website.
Offer the same products at a slightly cheaper price on your website than you do at the large shopping sites - without the expensive fees you’ll still increase your profit. Advertise these products in your email newsletter.
Offer some products exclusively on your website - people will be more likely to browse your website if they know that there are products that they can’t get anywhere else. Include the details in your emails to customers.
Provide special offers exclusively on your website an let your customers know via email.
You have probably noticed that these methods generally involve some incentive for your customers to change their regular shopping behavior. If you do this regularly their first stop will be your own website rather than a shopping site like eBay or Amazon.