The ecommerce industry has gone through rapid changes and enormous growth over the past couple of years, especially since 2020. Lots of sellers decided to incorporate their online store in bigger marketplace platforms.
Many also decided to find their own way by starting an online store apart from giant industry leaders like eBay or Amazon. Others have transferred it from a marketplace to their own website.
Keep reading to learn more about what online marketplaces are, the differences between an ecommerce platform vs. marketplace, and making the shift to your own online store.
What is an Online Marketplace?
An online marketplace is a platform that offers space for multiple sellers to present their products and services to potential buyers. Popular examples of online marketplaces include Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and many more. The platform is not in charge of the seller’s inventory or invoicing the customers — it is there for administration and connecting both sides.
On the other hand, having an online ecommerce store means you’re the sole vendor of a unique online store on your own website. You’re separated from the marketplace and in charge of your inventory as well as selling all of your products. This is the biggest difference between an ecommerce platform vs. marketplace.
Ecommerce Platform vs. Marketplace: Advantages of Your Own Site
Being in a marketplace simplifies many things every seller has to deal with: easier startup, not having to source customers, powerful logistics capability, etc. However, taking the easiest path has some drawbacks too.
Let’s examine having an ecommerce platform vs. marketplace — and discuss the benefits of owning your own ecommerce store.
You’re In Charge
When focused on creating your very own site, you have complete control over every aspect of the business. You get to create the rules, set custom selling scenarios, choose features, etc. Plenty of ecommerce platforms where you can build your store allow adding some new features using extensions and modules.
You Can Stand Out...
In a marketplace, you have to deal with a high level of competition. There can be hundreds of other sellers with the same or similar items making it difficult to showcase your store and how you're different.
… And Personalize Your Store
When you're one of thousands in an online marketplace, it is hard to be unique. Most marketplace platforms do not offer profile personalization. With your own store, you’re able to use templates or design your site the way you prefer. You can also hire a developer to create a custom design for you. This can help you provide your customers a great, unique experience when visiting your store.
Being in the same space as all your competition makes it hard to predict your potential profit. It can get tricky to deal with fees. Most marketplace platforms make you pay to list your product — which means you have costs before you even make your first sale. Aside from that, you pay a fee for every transaction, too. The prices depend on the platform you choose. You aren't paying those costs when you own your own store.
It’s Hard To Get Loyal Customers...
Even when people buy something from you, that doesn’t guarantee they will come back and turn into loyal customers. Shoppers tend to search and focus on products they need, not sellers themselves. It’s a lot of work to develop a unique brand while building a loyal customer base in a marketplace setting.
...And Communicate To Them
Online marketplaces don’t give sellers direct access to their shoppers. You're unable to develop a rapport with them. The only thing you can do there is communicate basic information about that particular trade. This restriction makes it impossible to try out marketing strategies or inform shoppers about new special offers, arrivals, or other useful news. The marketing element of ecommerce is missing.
You Can See Who Your Buyers Are
When you own your ecommerce site, you can analyze your customers, their behavior and gain other relevant insights. The data and statistics you get can help with improving your marketing campaigns as well as adjusting your products to their specific needs.
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How to Go From Being on a Marketplace to Owning Your Own Store
Transferring from a marketplace and running your own online store is certainly a challenging process. Let’s check some steps that might help you with that!
Choose An Great Ecommerce Platform
With the right platform, you’ll get a simple solution with countless useful plugins and features that help you establish your online business the best way possible.
StoreBuilder is an intelligent site assistant that helps you launch a WooCommerce store way faster than any other option in the market. The best part? It’s really simple and everyone can use it! Learn how to get started with a WordPress online store here.
Start Diverting Traffic To Your New Web Store
Update your marketplace info! Don’t forget “about me” or other sections where it’s possible to share information about your business. Add something about your new site, present it well, and inform your customers about some interesting offers, discounts, or content they can find there.
Of course, pay attention to the terms and conditions. Marketplaces do not want traffic diverting from their platform, so you’ll want to be extra careful. Explore legal spots to present your shop in a unique way that won't cause you to be in violation of your account terms.
The chances of landing a sale get higher because:
- You can communicate to them through features such as live chat — which automatically improves an overall shopping experience.
- No more marketplace fees, so you can offer your customer a discount when buying directly from you.
- They’ll only see suggestions of other products from your site, not similar things they can find in other seller’s stores (which is the case with the marketplace).
Include Marketing Materials In Shipments
When packing orders from your marketplace store sales, add things like your business card, a discount code (if they’re willing to make a purchase on your site), or even a QR code that will take them directly to your store. Advertise your new store and let your customers know there's a dedicated store for the products they're looking for.
Don’t Forget The Newsletter
It can be really tricky to notify both old or new customers you’re transferring or opening an additional store on your own because of marketplace policies.
Creating a mailing list is a great way to personalize your communication, and allow your customers to come with constructive criticism, feedback, or anything else they’d want to share with you.
To make the transition seamless, let your customers know what’s going on in advance.
Marketing Campaigns (For Existing Customers Too)
You want to drive more traffic and attract new customers to your site — but, don’t forget the old ones too. It’s definitely cheaper to send them reminders that you’re still there than investing a lot of money in advertising and trying to gain trust with new ones.
Reaching out to them on social media, email, or other ways is a great way to give notice about the upcoming transition to your new online store. After all, they’ve already made a purchase from your store already.
You can generate excitement, thank them for being your customers, and invite them to celebrate with you. This is a great way to reward them with discounts if they invite their friends to your store, and create ambassadors for your brand.
Focus On Social Media
Being active on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or others is an excellent way to build a unique brand. When you’re on the marketplace, it’s way harder for you to stand out and present your offerings differently than the rest. With that in mind, social media is a great way to engage your audience as well as keep them informed about everything that’s been going on on your site.
Create Free Content
Having an online shop is not only about selling stuff — it’s about giving your shoppers a unique experience and building a strong loyal customer base. How can you do that? Free content. Blogs, YouTube channels, and various tips and tricks are all features that bring extra value to your site. This tells your customer you’re not there just to sell, but to offer help and provide them with useful information.
When you want to activate both existing and future customers on your new website, definitely consider giving them some limited-time offers, exclusive memberships, loyalty programs, special deals, something else they may be interested in. Not only can it help with one-time purchases, but it can also bring significant attention to your newly created online store.
Starting your own site also gives you a chance to rethink your prices since there are no more marketplace fees. You can lower them and still net higher than when the same items are listed on a marketplace.
Boost Your SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the key elements of a successful ecommerce site. You want your products to hit the right keywords and rank well in search results to attract more organic traffic — which includes visitors that found your store through search engines without paid ads.
Good ranking leads to spending less money on advertising and brings long-term benefits for the credibility of your brand.
Choosing The Right Tools
Being a part of a marketplace platform certainly has some benefits, especially for beginners who are about to launch their brand.
However, if you’d prefer to present your offer in a rather unique way and build an online business on your own, the time has never been better for that.
The journey starts with choosing the right ecommerce platform — which is where WooCommerce shines.
It's flexible, customizable, and has no transaction fees.
Check out our fully managed WooCommerce hosting plans to get started today.