Marketplaces like eBay and Amazon offer instant access to a ready-made audience of millions. It’s no surprise that online marketplace selling is incredibly popular and highly profitable, with around 2,000 millionaire eBay sellers in the UK alone.

The potential rewards are clear, but how should you actually go about selling on these platforms? How do they fit in with your overall sales strategy? As we’ll explain, you need to put marketplaces into the specific context of your business and its existing online presence, and the expectations of your customers.

Getting your market share

Online marketplaces include dedicated eCommerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay, as well as shopping features on social media, and price comparison services like Google Shopping. All of these boast extremely high user numbers and, as such, can extend your reach to an audience far in excess of what you’d expect to receive on your own website.

Marketplaces allow you to target consumers who do the bulk of their shopping on a handful of platforms, and might otherwise never come across your business. Convenience is key, with users valuing a familiar interface and the ability to purchase a huge variety of products via a single account. Buyers are also reassured that everything is supervised by a trusted ecommerce provider.

If you want to sell on marketplaces, you need to ensure compliance with each platform’s terms and conditions. And of course, you have to follow a different process for listing and selling items on each marketplace. Our new Ecommerce Website Builder solution streamlines this, allowing you to easily publish products directly on Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Google, as well as your own shop, all from one central location.

Putting all your eggs in one market?

You might be tempted to completely forgo a standalone web shop, and rely solely on marketplaces for online sales. After all, they offer an easy way to start selling with minimal overheads – an attractive option for cash-strapped startups.

However, a marketplace-only strategy has some serious drawbacks. Seller fees come with the territory, and it’s important to note that sales from your own site are always potentially more profitable. A more long-term concern is the positioning and development of your brand.

Your own website provides a central structure for your online presence, and a trustworthy point of contact for customers – something that goes far beyond a basic eBay or Amazon seller profile. Similar to how an email address with your own domain always looks more professional than a free Gmail or Yahoo account, having your own site instantly projects a reputable image.

It’s also worth remembering that you don’t always need to sell via a marketplace to take advantage of its services. Even if a customer buys directly from your website, they might prefer to pay using a familiar method like Amazon Payments, which can be easily integrated on Ecommerce Website Builder.

With your own ecommerce site, you’re fully in control of the buying process and customer experience. While marketplaces might perfectly complement your shop right now, who knows what the future will bring? The reliability of your own platform allows you to plan ahead with certainty.

Opportunities to shape customer experience – and sell

Even with reduced scope for brand building, marketplaces still offer ways to manage the customer experience. Obviously, you choose which products to sell where, and you stay in control of the service the customer receives after buying – a chance to impress and build loyalty. With customer feedback famously prominent and publicly available on marketplaces like eBay, the quality of service is more important than ever.

Ultimately, selling on marketplaces should only form one part of a multi-channel strategy. Other channels include your own online shop and social media, but these aren’t isolated or one-way. In addition to pushing your products out on Facebook and Amazon, why not add a ‘like’ button and an Amazon Payments option to your website? Not only does this approach cast a wider net, it also gives consumers more choice over how they interact with you.

By giving web users more ways to find you, more ways to view your products, more ways to pay, and more ways to keep in touch afterwards, you can maximise your potential for long-term sales growth. Marketplaces can be instrumental in achieving this, but you need to ensure marketplace selling is integrated with a joined-up strategy that’s tailored to your brand and your customers.

With Ecommerce Website Builder, you get everything you need to sell online. Our newest eShop platform combines a professional ecommerce website with an easy way to manage your products on the most popular online marketplaces.