The retail industry is currently dominated by Amazon: by the middle of 2018, Amazon was already responsible for nearly half of all online retail sales in the United States. At that time, Amazon was expected to clear over $258 billion in U.S. retail sales.
How can you compete with that as a small, independently owned eCommerce business?
Running your own eCommerce business against Amazon is tough; there’s no doubt about it. However, it’s still entirely possible to do it successfully. Taking that approach rather than becoming an Amazon seller has its benefits. And on the flip side, using Amazon as a seller has unique benefits, too. Choosing which way to go depends on the needs of your business.
An eCommerce site gives you creative control with your brand
One of the biggest reasons to have your own eCommerce site? You’re in the driver’s seat. You make the decisions on which products to sell, how to sell them, how many you’ll offer, and so on. Plus, you’re able to maintain and capture your buyer data, so you can tweak product offerings and future marketing campaigns as needed. The ability to optimize product pages and content also amplifies your reach in search.
If your brand wants to maintain control of creative decisions and customer experience, an eCommerce site is a good fit for you. You decide how your products are laid out on your website, what tone and voice you’ll use to appeal to your customers, and how your brand will look overall. You decide how your checkout process will run, what shipping options to offer, what your packaging will look like, and how you’ll communicate tracking and notifications with your customers.
Similarly, you’ll have control of your marketing campaigns. If you want to host giveaways on Instagram to drum up interest in your products, it’s easier and more organic to do so with an eCommerce site rather than Amazon.
However, these benefits can also be seen as possible drawbacks of having your own site. Having control over every aspect of your brand is exciting, but that also means you’re responsible for marketing to your customer base properly. If you’re a smaller and newer company, it can be hard to stand out in the retail industry.
Just because you’re in control doesn’t mean you have to do that alone, though! Here at V9, we offer digital marketing solutions for eCommerce brands to help you increase conversions, boost site traffic, improve social media reach, and reach other marketing goals.
Amazon is an inexpensive way to kickstart your business
What if you’re completely new to the eCommerce market? Or you can’t afford the risks of running your own retail website? Amazon is still a great tool you can use to kickstart your eCommerce business. Having an entire website compete (and then actually convert and sell) can be a very big task in a crowded space. As an Amazon seller, it’s easier and generally cheaper to maintain your new retail business. Shipping and inventory with Amazon are more streamlined, meaning you can save money and time in lieu of creating your own processes.
Plus, Amazon is typically a more reliable source for the purchase and shipping process. Because Amazon is an easily recognizable and trusted brand name, new customers may be more likely to take the plunge and make a purchase using that platform, rather than a brand new retail website.
Customers are also likely buying from Amazon already — remember those stats we talked about earlier? — so you have a better chance of finding and capturing customers who are just browsing the site. That means you spend less time marketing to customers who may not be aware of your brand. If done correctly, Amazon is a great way for you to get found.
Working with Amazon can ease some of the pains of running your own business, but it also means you’re limited by what you can do. You have to follow their rules when listing your products online. That also means you don’t really get brand recognition when you make sales: Amazon does.
Your site can still thrive in an Amazon world
Overall, we say yes: your eCommerce site still matters in a world overrun by “the Amazon Effect.” Amazon’s success has certainly changed how smaller retailers have to operate online, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the fight. With your own eCommerce site, you can build your own customer base and brand. You have the flexibility and control with your own shop. You can also leverage data on your site to target customers anywhere along their path to purchase, increasing the odds that you can make that convert.
It may be a more involved process upfront, but creating your own personalized eCommerce site is more fulfilling and long-lasting than using Amazon. If you want help optimizing your eCommerce site to compete in the online space, V9 can help. We’ve helped retail companies, outdoor brands, and natural food brands find success with their eCommerce sites.