Leveraging Amazon and Your eCommerce Selling Network
by Diana Ratliff, on September 16, 2015
Amazon or your own eCommerce store? That was the topic of my last post. To refresh your memory:
Amazon’s strengths – and they are significant – are the sheer volume of traffic they get, and their credibility. You also get the benefit of selling products on a tested, proven marketplace, without time delays or development costs.
However, the fact that you can’t control what Amazon does (they can even suspend your account), and you cannot market directly to product buyers on Amazon, troubles many merchants. You have no such marketing restrictions when you develop your own eCommerce site – or other web assets for that matter.
About Web Assets
What are web assets? They’re the aspects of your online presence that add value. Some of these promote your products, some sell directly, and some generate traffic. Your web assets might include blog posts, online reviews, search engine rank, Facebook pages or Pinterest boards, affiliate programs, websites, ebooks, PDFs, eBay stores, YouTube videos, and more. This is referred to as an “eCommerce selling network.”
Leveraging Your Web Assets
All of your web assets should be developed with a consistent look, feel and message, but your website is the most significant, whether or not it includes an eCommerce section. That’s because it’s the hub of your online presence.
In fact, the most important role of your site is not to sell – it’s to promote your brand. It’s where you collect email addresses, set retargeting cookies and build loyal followers. You can add a blog or user forum, you can promote products that are not available on Amazon or you can add videos and PDFs and instruction manuals and a support area. Include whatever you feel is of most interest to prospective buyers as well as customers. In other words, add as much value as possible.
All websites should be attractively and professionally done, of course, but a properly done eCommerce site requires even more specialized expertise. You need to understand branding and copywriting for any type of website. A successful eCommerce site requires a knowledge of online buyer behavior, shopping cart and payment processing software and more.
Then you need to market the site. (“If you build it they will come” is definitely not true, online.)
Using Amazon to Promote Your Own Sales Channel
So is there a way to use Amazon’s strengths to your advantage while building your own online sales channel? Absolutely. It does not have to be an either/or proposition.
It’s helpful, first, if you adopt the mindset that you’re leveraging Amazon, not competing with it. Having your products on Amazon helps establish your credibility because it helps you get your name out there. Think of Amazon as a one of your marketing channels – they may help you make your first sale, but if you’re smart, you can encourage buyers to fill subsequent orders directly from you.
One of the simplest ways to use what Amazon has already created is to build an eCommerce store that uses Amazon for payment and fulfillment. Instead of getting your own credit card processor and managing shipping, you send people to your product listings on Amazon. They collect payment and ship orders (if you’re doing FBA).
Another option is to create a landing page – not a website at all. Put up a compelling offer, video, description of your product, etc. on a sales page. Give people a reason (such as a product discount) to sign up for your email list. Set retargeting cookies (these get interested prospects to return back to that page.) And link to Amazon for the product purchase.
Then market that page, directly. You’re bypassing most of the web design costs. All you have are marketing costs.
This option works best if you have your own exclusive listings – you’re the brand owner or manufacturer. You don’t want to send people to a product listing on Amazon where there are other competitors.
Using a Shopping Cart on Your Own eCommerce Site
If you have competitors, your best bet is to create an eCommerce site, with your own shopping cart, so that people pay without leaving your site – and you can integrate it with Amazon for order fulfillment.
Before you ever get to this point however, we need to talk about your brand. It’s the reason why someone would buy from you, instead of Amazon, to begin with. Stay tuned for my next post about building a brand that stands out from the rest.