In our latest blog series, we’ve asked several experienced online sellers to give us their expert opinions and advice on important ecommerce topics. For our first Zenmasters blog we take a look at the pros and cons of selling on multiple marketplaces.
The benefits of selling on several platforms include increased exposure to a wider audience, especially if you take advantage of high traffic marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon - they’re well known and trusted by customers. On the other hand having your own online shop means you can present your products in unique ways, and you don’t have the same requirements and restrictions. By selling on marketplaces and your own site you can enjoy the benefits of both.
What are the advantages of selling on multiple marketplaces?
Matt Sawyer runs food supplement brand, Supplemented.co.uk, which sells high-quality UK manufactured products online: “Selling on multiple marketplaces enables you to tap into already well established audiences. Every site owner is ultimately striving to build their own audience and develop brand trust. On eBay and Amazon you’re getting access to huge audiences who already have a huge degree of trust in the marketplace that they are shopping on.
“If you don’t have an effective presence on these platforms then you’re leaving money on the table.”
Sabar Ansari runs Love Shisha, a successful online business: "The biggest single advantage is that you're spreading the risk and not putting all your eggs in one basket, plus you can tailor your products to different market places - where one product may not do well in one marketplace it might be a sure fire hit in another - and it increases the revenue streams."
What are the downsides?
If you’re thinking of expanding onto different platforms then there are a few disadvantages to consider: systems for listing products can be very different, and it can get complicated managing inventory across different channels. You also need to fully understand the different shipping regulations, fees and criteria that eBay and Amazon use to rank sellers.
Matt Sawyer: “The downsides are really all linked to organisation and scalability. Having to maintain listing and inventory across multiple platforms can be a massive headache. Also the functionality of these platforms is often archaic, frustrating and time-consuming.”
Sabar Ansari: “The downsides are really the communication aspect of it, dealing with the different marketplace messages, I’m going to be trialing Xsellco to see if that helps.”
What are the big differences between eBay, Amazon and Shopify?
The biggest differences between marketplaces is that each one is suited to different products, so it’s worth researching the best platforms for your particular product.
Samantha Wilcock’s online business, Manta Makes, sells personalised, handcrafted items: “Amazon is a nightmare if you want to sell personalised items because the seller can’t personalise on the screen they have to send you a message. eBay is okay, but I have found a lot of people buy items and then want to change them completely e.g. wording, size etc, increasing our cost, but you risk your feedback if you don’t do it.”
Matt Sawyer: “eBay and Amazon both work the same way in principle. Search rankings are based on sales velocity and conversion rates, so on both platforms it’s important that you think about the search terms that drive visits to your products and make sure that listings are optimised for conversions - make them look as good as you can and provide extensive product information. You can’t skimp on product images and photography, that is the first thing that everyone looks at.
“In terms of usability I tend to find Amazon to be slightly less clunky when manipulating listings, but eBay tends to be easier when actually creating them.”
Sabar Ansari: “The listing tool on Amazon is a lot easier, eBay’s tool for listing can be cumbersome. But eBay is the best platform for my range of products.”
How do you manage selling across multiple marketplaces?
Matt Sawyer: “Selling across multiple marketplaces can be a massive headache. Zenstores has really simplified the dispatch process, which was a complete time-sink before.
“The other biggest issues tend to be based around stock control, making sure price changes are harmonised on all platforms.”
Sabar Ansari: “I wouldn’t be able to sell across all the channels without Zenstores. It makes it a whole lot easier, otherwise it would be a long drawn out process, the labels save me at least 3 hours a day.”
Do you have more than one account for each marketplace?
Matt Sawyer: “I tend to minimise listings and accounts. Sales velocity of listings is important for rankings, so dividing those sales between different accounts will ultimately limit your visibility. It’s better to have one listing ranking in the top three results than it is to have five listings all off of the first page.
“As well as focusing on one account I would also try to combine related product variations into a single listing rather than having multiple listings for different colours/quantities/sizes etc.”