Sell away on Amazon, but don’t neglect your own online sales channel.
There is plenty to like about Amazon. It is one monster marketplace with 310 million buyers perusing 353 million products. The cost of entry is low. Amazon will take care of your fulfillment. You can still make a profit even after Amazon gobbles up its significant fees.
On the other hand, you are at the mercy of Amazon. Amazon is so powerful that they will dictate the terms you must follow, including what you can charge. Slowly your margins decay. Yet they will not protect your brand from counterfeiters.
Consider this example when Amazon was still young. Toys R Us signed a 10-year contract with Amazon to be its exclusive seller of certain toys. That lasted four years before Amazon allowed others to sell those toys. Today you will not get any exclusivity on Amazon. Your products are going to compete in the world’s most competitive online marketplace. You need to expend significant resources for buyers to find you and your products.
Amazon can take it away as fast as it can give it. The facts make it obvious that having all your eggs in one basket with Amazon is a double-edged sword
It’s smart to have a Plan B
You can continue to sell on Amazon while taking better advantage of online retail by building your own ecommerce store. You can enjoy higher profit margins; build a stronger brand experience so your sales grow across retail channels; and learn more about your customers to grow brand loyalty.
Here are some steps to get you started in curating the perfect online store.
Know your customers! Truly come to know them. Listen to their feedback whether it’s in product reviews, social media comments or calls to your customer support. Why do they want your brand? What can you do to give them more of why they want you?
Create personas of your customers so you can communicate with them more effectively. Persona development is a powerful technique to help build a more cohesive brand. Consider these questions to illuminate how your best customers live and shop:
- What are their demographics?
- What is their role? (in their family, community, etc.)
- What are their desired gains?
- What pains or problems are you helping them solve?
- What is their story?
You also need to research and document their buyer’s journey, explaining:
- How they become aware of products like yours?
- How they compare and consider products like yours?
- How do they decide to buy?
Create a more fulfilling buying experience. Admit it. The Amazon buying experience can be pretty dry. You can give your customers a superior buyer’s experience on your own website that will make them love your brand, and want to come back. You can be especially effective because you have come to know your customers, what motivates them, and how they behave. You will have the control to appeal to your customers and in the process build brand loyalty and sales.
With your own online store, you control product quality and pricing. You can market your products creatively, or put together promotions or bundles not offered elsewhere that will be particularly attractive to your most loyal customers. Plus you can give them discounts and special offers.
You can out-market Amazon with content marketing that appeals to your buyer personas. Inject your store with personality. Appeals to humanitarian and environmental causes will attract interest, especially from millennials.
Give your customer a better personal experience. Offer customer support where your buyers can easily communicate with you. That won’t happen on Amazon.
Amazon created expectations of fast and free shipping. That’s a tall order to match. Amazon has 90 million Prime customers paying $119 each year, primarily so they receive free two-day shipping. You can offer free shipping with a minimum order. Or you could charge an annual subscription fee, like Prime, and include other goodies such as special products, discounts, or first access to new products. Get creative!
The benefits of building your online store are immense, and we’d love to help! Let’s have some coffee and talk through different ideas and strategies to help you create a winning online store just for your brand.