Development, Design, and Marketing

Why Amazon Sellers Need a Website

If you caught Jeff Bezos’s 2018 letter to Amazon shareholders, you are aware of how far Amazon has reached into the tapestry of consumer culture. In 2017, sales topped $177.0 billion dollars, a 31% increase from $136 billion in 2016.

For the first time ever, Amazon has shared it’s number of Prime members – topping a whopping 100 million. Take a second to consider that the U.S. has somewhere around 126 million households. This is a pretty impressive number, especially when you consider that Prime users are paying $99+ a year for that privilege. The fee is continuously on the rise. Bezos also shared that more than 300,000 U.S.-based small to medium size businesses sell through their marketplace. Bezos stated that more than half of all units sold on Amazon were through third-party marketplace sellers.

With Amazon building more and more momentum, many entrepreneurs are abandoning their own websites for the convenience of the Amazon marketplace. Little do they know, many business owners are giving up control over their brand, sacrificing brand equity.

Brand Building

If you are reading this, you are probably somewhat familiar with the nuts and bolts behind the Amazon powerhouse. Amazon is a customer-centric marketplace consisting of 3rd party sellers along with Amazon themselves. With one-click checkouts, mobile shopping, and buy boxes, it’s not surprising that many Amazon shoppers do not stop to think that Amazon is not the only seller on the platform. Many shoppers would be surprised to learn that Amazon is built of individual sellers, selling under the Amazon umbrella. The fact is, a large chunk of users who shop on Amazon think that they are buying from Amazon even though it is your product they are buying. Consider how much of your brand equity you are giving up when selling on the tightly controlled platform.

Let’s take a look at the Amazon logo compared to your store name on the Amazon marketplace. You will find no attempts to bring the consumers eye to your brand name. It’s blended in a sea of words. Bottom-line, shoppers associate the Amazon logo with your products.

Who is Your Customer Base?

Again and again, I come back to this point – you do not have access to your customer base on Amazon. You are not collecting emails, tracking conversion rates, or building additional marketing channels. By not having a website with some form of e-mail collection/sales database, you are missing out on enormous revenue opportunities. It’s marketing 101, securing a repeat customer is infinitely cheaper and easier than acquiring a brand-new customer. By collecting e-mails over time, and grouping them into appropriate channels, you could potentially run a targeted sale or promotion via a service like MailChimp. All you have to do is create an email and send it to every customer on the corresponding list. These are free conversions with an established customer base.

On Amazon, there is no list.

Quite the contrary, sellers on the Amazon platform need to fight all kinds of unauthorized sellers, price waterfall dropping, and quality control issues. With your own branded site, you not only have a complete database of every single person that signed up for a newsletter, or purchased a product, but you have all kinds of useful analytical data to make informed decisions in your marketing.

  • You know what converts
  • You know what doesn’t convert
  • You know how much time they spend and where
  • You have contact information
  • You know their shopping patterns
  • You know their age and demographic
  • I can go on and on…

With this information, there are endless avenues you can use to push conversions.

  • Create promotional emails
  • Alert customers of upcoming events or sales
  • Create a lookalike audience on social media with proper demographic channels
  • Build trust by targeted content

Advertising Beyond Amazon

It’s no secret, Amazon is a juggernaut in the e-commerce space, but they are certainly not the only major player. By putting all your eggs into one basket, you are missing out on a larger audience.

By owning your own website, you can now buy advertising on multiple platforms such as Google. You can drive sales directly to your own website, where you keep 100% of the profits.

Of course, you can buy your own ads on Amazon as well, but you would literally be spending your own money to help build Amazon’s brand, not yours. With every sale, you will also be delivering a percentage of profits to Amazon directly. More importantly, you cannot track conversions to adjust your marketing efforts.

By having your own website here are a few of the platforms you can be advertising on while building your own brand value:

  • Facebook retargeting and ads
  • Google Shopping and Adwords
  • Comparison engines such as, Nextag, Shopzilla, etc
  • Bing shopping and bing ads
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Instagram

By collecting data and making informed decisions, you will drive conversions.

Product Control

By kneeling solely to Amazon, you will experience many limitations and guidelines for selling your products. You must conform and give up your own brand freedom to become another cog in a much bigger system. A good example of this is looking at Amazons FBA, Fulfilled by Amazon program. Say I wanted to customize or personalize a particular good or service, FBA does not offer any personalization. Amazon’s vast infrastructure is not set up for such a service. How about a product that requires a little extra hand-holding or customer education? When listing on Amazon you must follow their canned list of procedures and fields. Again, you must conform to the mold – you must make scarifies to your brand image/power.

Because Amazon listings must fit the mold and are all designed the same for user convenience, you receive zero brand recognition. You must obey their rules and pay their fees.

But when you have your own store or website you have the freedom to do whatever you want.

  • Do you want to sell personalized products?
  • Do you want to add extra elements to your listing to enhance sales? You got it!
  • How about custom photos of different dimensions? Custom and more clever ways to write product descriptions based on the data you collect? No problem!

Wrap Up & Traffic

Amazon is the drug that provides you with instant sales in an instant world, the problem is they can be taken away at any time from anyone. Building traffic takes time, and it takes some work and understanding on how the web works. The truth is starting your own website is a much longer term project than selling your product on Amazon. If you take anything away from this post, please understand good things take time. In the long run, you should think about building up your brands value and creating an ecommerce business that is built to stand the test of time.

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