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Is building your own webstore really a good idea?

By Dan Wilson March 24, 2014 - 2:50 am

In the face of eBay’s recent announcements requiring mandatory managed returns and introducing new criteria regarding defects, many sellers here on Tamebay have said they will be investing in the development of their own ecommerce websites.

The attraction is obvious. It means freedom to make your own decisions, the liberty from rules and fees and the choice to set more competitive prices. What’s not to like?

Well, there are lots of reasons why shoppers like to buy from eBay and Amazon. And it can be hard to find cut through online. It’s one thing building an online store but then also quite another attracting buyers and the traffic you need to make it profitable.

Some off-the-peg solutions are dead cheap but more bespoke options can be fiendishly pricey.

That’s why Andy Geldman’s latest article on Web Retailer caught my eye. He looks at the pros and cons of taking leave from marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon and going solo. He makes a lot of good points. Not least, he notes that it isn’t easy.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t an opportunity, possibility and potentially a huge success. It could be. It’s just that it is bloody hard. The big marketplaces have the money and expertise when it comes to marketing and that’s hard to replicate. Do have a read.

  • 3 years ago

    It’s definitely a good idea, simply to increase profit.

    Google Shopping is something to be considered as it helps you to compete with big Retailers. It is cheaper than Adwords and gives better ROI.

  • 3 years ago

    Timely and thought provoking article from Andy. A couple of points. Google is the place my daughter goes to for shopping. And Google will at some point challenge the marketplaces (who will ultimately have to show sellers more respect than they do now).

    We have run our website alongside eBay/Amazon for 8 years. The best we ever do on the website is 10% of turnover and we pay approx the same to Google as we do in marketplace fees. It also takes additional time to list each product to the site although not much as we use eSellerPro which uses much the same data.

    Over the years I have agonised over many of the points Andy makes and the one that stands out is the need to give buyers a reason to buy from you. Selling largely commodity items this is hard for us.

    My advice. Make the site easy, fast and interesting to use with the best search technology. Make the most of lazy buyers who don’t have a lot of time by helping them to find the product they need by good use of filters and keywords.

    John

  • Alex
    3 years ago

    I think starting your own website is a great idea and I wish I’d thought of it.

    To solve the traffic issue I’m gonna ask eBay to swap website links. Happy days!! :)

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    Website margins are higher and website operating costs are lower. I receive a higher number of basket purchases so average order values are higher than ebay.

    The downside is I have to carry more stock for a website as the average stock holding time is longer and to compete with the “marketplaces” the range of goods offered has to be large which helps with SEO and credibility. As a collectables seller the offer is niche product to a niche market which also helps.

    This weekend my website sales have outstripped ebay store sales 40% by value although the website carries far more stock.

    I have no ebay/website stock duplication to keep things simple. I like to offer around 200 products at a time on ebay and carry a minimum of 800 products on the website. More than that and the number of daily orders becomes excessive and unmanageable for a sole trader. I am constantly tweeking prices to maintain sales at a consistent level. This can be by increasing prices to choke sales or reducing prices to increase sales.

    What I will say is that if I move items from the website to ebay things do sell fast on ebay however margins are affected so it is always a balancing act between website and ebay to manage turnover and margins. .

  • 3 years ago

    Hi Guys n Gals.
    Over the last few years we have tried our own websites, amazon trading and ebay trading at various levels of success
    1, DIY Website:
    Lock yourself in a locked room with no outside interuptions and you may get some success !
    2, Professional built SEO website:
    Say goodbye to control and your wallet will get MUGGED !! Success small!!
    3, Amazon: Prepare to play poker in bluff and counter bluff with your competitors and then wait up to three weeks for your money, tried it didnt like it!
    4, eBay:
    okay yes they you have you over a barrel so to speak, but from our expierance it is the must cost effective solution for work input to sales volume out of all the options

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    To add to previous in my niche product area online sales and eccomerce shops do dominate over ebay and bricks and mortar and there is no real Amazon presence so the only “marketplace” competition is ebay. So my buyers I guess are used to googling and shopping on websites.

    I don’t know how a website would fare if ebay and Amazon dominate the online sales sector. Thinking refurbished electricals books maybe, and similar.

    So the website thing is down to your personal knowledge of your marketplace in which you operate, how dominant the main players are, how shoppers are used to buying, and whether there is a niche market where dominant players are weak.

  • Alex
    3 years ago

    What????? Increasing prices to choke sales? Are you serious?

    Choke sales???? That’s just totally stupid, I am really lost for words…..etc….

    Who doesn’t want sales? If its such an issue then employ someone or remove the item from inventory.

    I have no understanding of your model but I wish had that luxury.

    IMO: Totally ridiculous and stupid and certainly not a way to do business. I certainly won’t be hiring you as a consultant or mentor.

    Choke sales is the most retarded thing I have read for ages. Unreal!!!

  • Chris
    3 years ago

    We’re certainly going to heading down that route alongside eBay.
    We’re considering Bigcommerce or Shopify at present, having given the free trial a go on both, we seem to prefer Bigcommerce at the minute.

    • 3 years ago

      Re: Chris
      We have a basic website supplied with our eSellerPro software but was looking for something more modern and up to date which we had more control over.

      I was considering Bigcommerce or Shopify after being put off going for Magento. I was quoted £20K for a basic Magento store which seemed a lot for something that only had basic integration (and this was not the Enterprise edition which is another £15K on top).

      My questions: (if you know it), does Bigcommerce or Shopify offer any form of integration to eSellerPro – even if this is manual upload/download? Would you consider doing this yourself, or would you outsource it to someone?

      The big thing to consider if you are a small business is the amount of time you would spend contructing your store whilst neglecting the day to day running of the business.

  • Mick
    3 years ago

    Andy Geldman’s article hits the nail on the head – you need to give buyers a compelling reason to buy from your website. Having run sales from both ebay and my home grown website, I find the website good for very niche products which buyers simply can’t get elsewhere. They find these mostly through (free) Google searches. If these were on ebay any profit would be lost on relist/FV fees.

    Conversely, some very saleable items sit on my website unsold, when I move them to ebay they usually fly out for a good price. It’s horses for courses, abandoning ebay and setting up your own website will not automatically increase your profit. The cost of the e-commerce solution is just the start, you then have to a) get buyers to visit your website as opposed to another one and b) give them a very good reason to buy there. A lower price might just work, but often I find not – and I agree it is bloody hard work!

    • Chrs
      3 years ago

      Good point Mick.
      What I’ve thought is, you almost need to ‘speculate’ some items on your website that you can afford not to sell to test the waters.
      I think its a balance, to not have all your eggs in one basket.

      How do you advertise Mick? Adwords etc?

    • Paul
      3 years ago

      A website is essential for credibility and branding if nothing else.
      Our website income is always waaaay below our Amazon and Ebay sales each week, but it’s extra exposure that we control and it is the destination for incoming enquiry responses. Who wants to send them to a marketplace that displays paid for competitor links?
      We get great leads from it from overseas buyers in particular – and daily calls from UK buyers who find us in search results. We don’t spend any money on SEO.
      I’ve just today taken a repeat phone order from a buyer who’d previously used Amazon Marketplace and found himself buying from a Chinese seller. The goods failed to arrive and he didn’t get his money back despite starting an A-Z claim.
      That dissuaded him from using Amazon ever again. Think how many people have had the same thing happen on Ebay – many people just don’t trust the site.
      You need a website as part of your sales strategy if you’re a serious business. Yes, it can take ages to initially set up, but it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Look at Bluepark, who charge around £40 monthly for credible, working e-commerce sites with ready made templates and great backup. You don’t need cash upfront. We learnt that the hard way.

      Amidst the shifting sands of the marketplaces that can bring your business down in a second, your own website is a little bit of concrete real estate that you own and you can build it up at your own pace.
      Don’t be put off from starting one.

  • Richard
    3 years ago

    This is the same person who did a feature on eBay’s biggest sellers totally missing out one if not the biggest on eBay.co.uk until it was pointed out to him on another forum. Now there’s someone who’s advice I wouldn’t trust.

    Relying on marketplaces is commercial suicide, eBay and Amazon can kill and close down your business in a heartbeat no matter what size you are, seen it happen too many times over the years, from small sellers selling a few hudred quid a month to multi-million pound companies.

    Paul’s reply above is spot on…
    “Amidst the shifting sands of the marketplaces that can bring your business down in a second, your own website is a little bit of concrete real estate that you own and you can build it up at your own pace.”

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