Entrepreneurs who choose to start an online business have several options for selling.
Many choose to go it their own, creating a website and marketing their products themselves. Others choose a different path, selling instead on sites like eBay, Etsy, or Amazon.
As seen in the recent post, E-Commerce 101: How to Start an Online Business, doing your homework is a critical part of venturing into an e-business.
Knowing the strengths of each approach can help you make an informed choice. What are the major differences between selling on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, or your own website? A look at the pros and cons gives you answers.
First, let’s look at how Amazon, eBay, and Etsy operate.
Each of the big three services offers opportunities for online sellers to thrive. Amazon and eBay are broad marketplaces that sell millions of items and attract user bases in the tens of millions. Etsy is a bit more niche, focusing on handmade items, vintage pieces, and some unusual factory-produced pieces.
Here is a look at some of the common features of each site.
- Listing Fees. Amazon does not charge listing fees but takes 15 percent of each transaction. Etsy charges 20 cents per listing for four months of listing and a 3.5 percent transaction fee. EBay’s fees vary based on the type of listing (auction or fixed price) and they charge a 10 percent transaction fee. In general, the first 50 monthly listings are free and are 30 cents per item thereafter.
- Images. Amazon offers 9 free images per item, Etsy gives users 5 images, and eBay gives users 12 free images.
- Payment Options. All three sites take standard credit and debit cards and have gift card options. With Amazon, you can also use Amazon points.
The biggest strength for using one of the e-commerce sites is traffic. Collectively, the three sites have roughly 500 million users. That is a lot of potential clicks and searches for your product.
The fees are the biggest downside to using one of these sites for your online business.
Advantages to Your Own Website
With your own website, you lose out on the massive global reach of an eBay or Amazon, but you gain many other advantages. For one, you can establish your own brand and identity through your website.
Your own website lets you customize the experience for your customers through the information you provide, the tone you convey, and the service you deliver. With the e-commerce sites, you are a subset of their larger, well-recognized brands.
The customer experience is essential for any online business. Amazon has forced the issue by delivering reduced and expedited shipping and other benefits that frequently delight customers. When you sell on a site like Amazon, when you deliver exceptional customer service, it is often credited as “another great Amazon transaction.”
Having your own website also lets you build a better customer base, collecting contact information, emails, and insights that help you refine messaging, pricing, and your site’s look and feel. You also can sell a broader range of products that may be restricted on eBay or Etsy.
The choice of where to build depends greatly on what you are trying to sell and how it relates to your broader brand. It also need not be an either-or. Some entrepreneurs have both their own website and a presence on one or more of the big e-commerce sites.
No matter what business model you choose, look to Benetrends for business support services and small business funding strategies. To learn more about Benetrends’ innovative funding approach that uses existing 401(k) funds to fuel your online launch and growth, schedule a consultation today.