Selling on Amazon vs. Your Own Site: Where is the Best Place to Start?
By now, there’s a good chance you are familiar with the Amazon marketplace in some way, shape, or form. Due to COVID-19 and the resulting 2020 lifestyle change we are all more than familiar with, e-commerce experienced 4-6 years of growth in the span of just a few months. Whether you’ve started your own business selling on Amazon or you’ve simply been buying more home goods online than usual, e-commerce has most likely taken up more of your wi-fi bandwidth lately.
For those of you still playing with the idea of starting your own online business, you face an important crossroads before you really even begin your journey.
What Do You Get With Your Own Site That You Can’t Get From Amazon?
Just because everyone is doing something doesn’t make it the best thing to do. Amazon is no different, right? Between the fees and regulatory hoops to jump through, maybe you’d be better off running your own website. It’s a valid thought.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways your own site may be a more attractive opportunity for your online business.
It’s Seriously Easy
Building your own website is easier than ever in 2021. Between WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify, your options for creating a personalized business hub are plentiful. Each of these services offer various levels of pricing along with free trials or even free versions with ads.
Most of these website builders offer accessible tutorials, a library of pre-made site templates, dedicated support, and social media connectivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re building an entire e-commerce headquarters or merely a blog to support your more simplistic business model – today’s site builders offer the opportunity to create your own beautiful website with the only requirement being a few hours of your day.
The Spotlight is On You
Another benefit of doing business on a self-hosted website is the lack of competing entities. In larger pools like the Amazon marketplace, it can be more difficult to “wrangle” customers who are constantly being inundated with buttons, ads, and funnels prompting them to shop for similar products.
When a shopper visits your site, rest assured that you are the main event, not just an “opening act” for someone else’s sale.
You Own the Customer
When you sell on Amazon and a customer buys from your business, whose customer is that?
Yes, they bought your product, but they did so using Amazon’s platform, site features, and most likely, fulfillment centers. That’s Amazon’s customer.
Doing business on your own website gives you finer control over customer targeting and remarketing. This is rather important if you’re thinking about scaling your business any time soon. Utilize strategies like personalized email lists or targeted social media marketing campaigns to collect customer contact information and keep them in your ecosystem. Next time they need to purchase, it’s no longer “back to Amazon,” but a conscious decision to revisit your brand.
Why is Amazon Often Better Than Your Own Site?
There are several reasons why taking advantage of the Amazon marketplace is better for those looking to start their own business and most of them have to do with an inherent head start from the get-go. Momentum isn’t easy to come by as a new entrepreneur online. If visibility, convenience, and growth are priorities of yours, Amazon is the place to be.
Traffic (and Reach), Built in
I mentioned earlier how having your own website affords you a “spotlight” to keep the attention on you, rather than other sellers in your space. While that’s true, you still need an audience to get to your spotlight in the first place.
In the e-commerce world, this is known as “traffic.” Unlike the physical world, traffic online keeps things moving, increases sales, and generally spells success for most brands.
In a lot of ways, traffic is the lubricant and lifeblood of any online business model.
There is no greater exposure to constant, high buyer-intent traffic than on Amazon.
As of 2020, Amazon leads (by an almost comical amount) when it comes to e-commerce marketplace traffic.
Find more statistics at Statista
Keep in mind, these numbers are in the millions, meaning Amazon nets roughly 3.6 billion with B, visitors… every month. Simply put, you will not find this kind of access to this many online shoppers in one place anywhere else on the Internet. It’s not a surprise, with Amazon Prime membership and a product selection second to none, Amazon is the first place many people look.
Not only is Amazon the mecca for consistent, high volume customer traffic, but customers who come to Amazon usually come to buy.
Find more statistics at Statista
Where “brand websites” do generate purchases (18% in the greater online distribution of purchases), Amazon is responsible for 47% of online purchases worldwide.
When you trace success back to revenue, back to profit, back to sales, and finally back to the customer’s decision to buy, it starts to make sense why the Amazon marketplace is the favorite of e-commerce sellers.
It’s the difference between looking for a slice of pizza in Des Moines and looking for a slice of pizza in New York City. There are some places you just can’t go wrong.
You would think anything that’s as popular as Amazon would have one of the most accessible beginner-friendly platforms in the world… and you’d be right.
1. Choose your selling plan. You can choose an “individual” plan with a $0.99 fee for every sale or go “professional” with a $40 monthly payment, regardless of how many sales you rack up.
2. Choose which kind of seller you want to be. Interested in bargain hunting products in a physical retailer, then reselling them for a profit on Amazon? Maybe you’d rather create, design, and manage your own brand. Maybe you’d like to do a mix of both. Amazon has efficient systems in place to cater to virtually any kind of seller you want to be.
3. Get set up with Amazon FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). This is where the rubber really meets the road for new sellers. Once you choose your product and find a supplier to produce it, Amazon FBA takes care of receiving, packing, storing, and shipping your product as you make sales. There are fees involved, however Amazon FBA effectively eliminates the (rather large) business hurdles of finding a warehouse to manage inventory and the constant, hands on shipping concerns that come with it. Amazon FBA also handles general customer service and returns. For many sellers, the established infrastructure and resources that Amazon hosts are, alone, enough incentive to start selling on the platform.
4. Make your Seller Central account, create your first listing, and start selling! With little more than bank/tax info, proof of identification, and a business email address, you can get your Amazon Seller account set up in no time. This will be your Amazon selling hub to access your sales data, advertising efforts, and a place to manage your product listings.
Don’t forget, before you do anything, you need to choose the best product to sell on Amazon.
When shopping on Amazon yourself, you may have noticed when you search for a product, the first few results on page one look like this:
When you see a “Sponsored” product listing, it means that the Amazon seller is using the Amazon Sponsored Ad platform to promote their Amazon listings to the top of the list.
Amazon PPC (pay per click) advertising allows new Amazon sellers to begin promoting their products without any prior advertising knowledge. As the name suggests, sellers only pay when a shopper clicks on their ad. With the option for manual or automatic ad campaigns, Amazon PPC allows sellers to choose their advertising budget range ahead of time so they can manage how much of their resources go into their advertising efforts.
Amazon PPC is one of the best ways to increase product visibility and boost sales, all while being able to view your advertising analytics (on Amazon or by using an Amazon PPC manager).
Enough Resources to Make Your Business a Career
With any new e-commerce venture comes the stresses of learning a new business. Finding the right products to sell, how to deal with customer complaints, perfecting your advertising budget, and learning how to make your product listing shine where others fail.
One of the biggest benefits of selling on Amazon is the treasure trove of resources available to you as a seller.
Not only are there countless Facebook communities and networking opportunities revolving specifically around the Amazon space, but there are also specialized Amazon selling tools available to take your Amazon business from “one-of-a-kind hobby” to “six-figure business.”
Take Helium 10 tools, for example.
- State of the art keyword and product research tools to help you hone in on the phrases Amazon shoppers are using the most and choose a winning product based on consumer behavior.
- Next-level Amazon listing optimization techniques to make sure the Amazon A9 Algorithm spots your product page first (and often).
- Proactive product monitoring and security to make sure hijackers are not tampering with your Amazon listing and tinkering with your prices.
- A free Amazon chrome extension that allows you a deep and instant look under the hood of your competition.
Can You Sell on Amazon AND Your Own Website?
Not only can you sell on Amazon or through your own website (both with success), it’s something you should seriously consider. It’s the synthesis of both e-commerce strategies into one, unified sales funnel.
You’ve just stumbled onto the beauty of e-commerce: Using almost every tool at your disposal to direct sales and build a loyal audience, all pointing towards your Amazon product page.
Your Amazon online store (and product listings) should remain your focus. This is ultimately where most of your customers will be making their purchases, it’s where a large part of your paid advertising efforts should live, and frankly, it’s the place you will have the most support (resources, troubleshooting, logistical ease).
If you were a serious fisherman, you wouldn’t spend your time around the local pond, you’d be out in the ocean. Yes, Amazon is an increasingly competitive space – but it’s also where you have the best shot at carving out serious monthly profit for yourself.
You should also have your own, brand-personal landing page. This is where you will truly engage with shoppers, concentrate social media efforts, and hone your remarketing prowess to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers. Your customers, not Amazon’s.
But how do you connect the two?
Portals by Helium 10 is a one of a kind Amazon landing page tool and effectively your tailor-made bridge between your brand website and Amazon product listing.
Earlier we spoke about how easy it is to use services like Squarespace or Wix to create your own website. Portals takes things a step further by “trimming the fat” and eliminating all the non-Amazon essential elements of this process, then optimizing the functions that help boost your Amazon efforts.
Helium 10 hosts, you focus on your customers.
With Portals you can:
- Create conversion-optimize landing pages (from quickstart templates). These pages are specifically designed for Amazon sellers, with the express intent of driving sales to your product page on Amazon.
- Easily populate your landing page with the product information already available from your product listing.
- Utilize email opt-in and thank you pages to nurture customer relationships and build an email marketing list.
- Integrate Facebook and Google Analytics so you can access all your critical analytics on one, easy to read dashboard.
A Balancing Act Worth Striving For
Yes, in some cases, business decisions will come down to an “either or.” However, don’t let anyone tell you that you must choose between selling on Amazon or curating your own website. While there is a degree of overlap between them, that overlap compliments each side in different ways, bringing balance to your online business.
Unless you have an extremely focused niche and a specialized plan of action for a single platform… a balanced, holistic e-commerce business is often the most successful.