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Build your independent brand to protect your business

By Lee Simpson

Undoubtedly online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are powerful sales machines that offer online retailers a quick and easy route to market but it comes at a price and that price is growing! The need for online retailers to create their own brand has never been greater.

Online marketplaces have clearly led the march against the high street and pulled down many barriers to entry for small online retailers but if you scratch beyond the surface, the reality of marketplace selling is not the pretty picture we’re led to believe.

Access to the sale machine comes at a price, competition is fierce pushing prices down and costs up, sometimes to the point where it is impossible to make a profit. It’s also impossible to build any form of brand loyalty, you are a face in a crowd where buyers will be led by the marketplace. In short you are no longer able to build a loyal customer base, well at least not for yourself!

“Sellers are taking a huge unnecessary risk by selling solely through online marketplaces like Amazon. They are exposed to random account suspension, relevance issues, and paying high commission while building the marketplace’s customer base.

I advise my clients to treat Amazon and others as an ancillary market and encourage them to dedicate resources to develop their own brand via an independent ecommerce website”.

What’s the alternative? How can you differentiate and rise above the rest? The only way is to build your own brand and sell through your own online store. Will it involve hard work and investment? Yes, but it will undoubtedly be worth it in the end.

The cost of setting up a basic ecommerce site is perhaps not as prohibitive as many marketplace sellers would expect and with flexible payment plans on offer its clear to see how the cost compares to the commissions paid.

The key to success however is not simply to have an online presence but to have the right one. Online retailers need a website designed to:

  • attract traffic e.g. search engine friendly
  • be reliable, secure and fast (decreasing page load time from eight to two seconds’ increases conversion rates by a whopping 74%)
  • engage their audience with fresh designs and absorbing content
  • Integrate social media and encourage social sharing

We would always suggest you maintain your marketplace presence particularly as you build your own traffic, but the need to establish a brand, your own market and own voice have never been greater.