Online marketplaces: Friend or foe?
In 2015, online marketplace giants Amazon and eBay claimed 29.1% of online retail sales in the U.S. In the same year and country, Amazon sales accounted for 24 cents of every dollar in retail sales growth. Those are numbers that simply cannot be ignored.
As B2B e-commerce is growing and looking to replicate B2C shopping experiences for its clients, e-marketplaces are also expanding to target audiences that include B2B buyers. Amazon’s Amazon Business and Alibaba’s Aliexpress are just two examples of the new B2B marketplace trend.
What are the benefits of a marketplace?
One of the biggest advantages of using online marketplaces is that they can make it easier to acquire new clients. Marketplaces help your business reach a wider variety of customers who may not have heard of your product otherwise.
Competition and brand awareness
A keyword search on a marketplace site displays your product in a list with other brands and distributors. This kind of high competition could be an advantage for you, depending on how you rank when it comes to pricing and customer reviews.
Trust factorOnline marketplaces also have the advantage of the trust factor. Rather than buying from an unknown web store they’ve never heard of, first-time buyers of a new brand feel more at ease buying from a name they know and trust like Amazon.
So is extending your business to the online world worth the money? Are there really benefits to owning your own e-commerce channel?
Although e-marketplaces can be very active contributors to the success of your business, you should consider them a supporting online channel, rather than your main one.
What your web store can do that e-marketplaces can’t
Your own branded web store allows you to personalize the shopping experience and make it special for each and every customer. That’s something that Amazon, a one-size-fits-all store, is not equipped to offer.
Having your own e-commerce platform allows you to use specific keyword-based landing pages and index pages, for instance. These help you better target your customers and show them more precisely what they are looking for. Amazon’s features only allow for broad keyword-based promotions, where your product can easily get lost among many others.
An optimized web store that allows you to be properly indexed in search engines helps potential buyers find your products online. It also gives you control over where your customers land once they click on the search result. That’s not something you can do with Amazon, as their search algorithm is not designed specifically for you, and chances of you coming out on top are not always high.
New product promotion
A web store isn’t just a place to sell your products; having your own web store also means you can announce and promote new products to your heart’s content.
On the other hand, when you add a new product to a marketplace it may actually be at a disadvantage. This is because marketplace shoppers rely heavily on reviews. New products, of course, don’t yet have reviews, which means that competitors who’ve had comparable products online longer are more likely to win the customer’s purchase.
Having full control of the brand experience in your web store means that you also have the final say in how your brand will be expressed through your packaging and delivery. You can ship your products in branded boxes and envelopes, for instance, and you can also include personalized promotions or discounts.
This isn’t an option with e-marketplaces like Amazon, as they ship everything in their own branded packaging. Not only that, but they have restrictions on including inserts or other marketing materials; if they do include promotional materials, it’s usually with a focus on their own brand.
Omnichannel experience opportunities
This is more than just a combination of all of the above benefits. Your customers expect a full-blown omnichannel experience. They want your product, but they want it with more information, more possibilities and better options.
The only way you can deliver the full package is with your own web store. Although they’re a good starting point, e-marketplaces are not the way to make your brand shine.
The best of both online shopping worlds
In the end, the best way to achieve e-commerce success is to embrace an online approach that will allow you to enjoy the benefits of both worlds.
Use your web store to personalize your B2B customers’ buying experience. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Trigger and facilitate repeat purchases, offer personalized discounts and promotions, and differentiate yourself with an excellent delivery deal. Your clients already have high demands thanks to their B2C online shopping experiences, and having your own web store will allow you to offer the omnichannel experience they expect.
At the same time, don’t disregard e-marketplaces. Although they may, to some extent, compete with your own website, they are powerful opportunities for you to expand your online B2B presence, engage new or casual buyers, and simply sell your product.
The world of e-commerce may seem daunting at first, but it’s a voyage well worth making. Your business, your brand, and your customers are counting on it.