Understanding Online Stores and Marketplaces, which is better for Small Business
In today’s digital world it is very important for a budding business to establish a strong online presence, this will increase the reach of your products. This can be done in two main ways: you can either start your own website or you can join an online marketplace.
It can be difficult to choose which platform to go through with, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each platform can help you in establishing what kind of approach is more relatable to your business and targets.
An online marketplace is an e-commerce website which offers multiple third-party sellers a platform where they can offer their products to the existing customer base of the particular marketplace. Etsy and eBay are some globally renowned online marketplaces.
Pros of Joining an Online Marketplace
- One of the biggest benefits of selling on an online marketplace is that these platforms are very easy to join and maintain. Marketplaces are convenient for businesses that are new to the online platform and also businesses that are small or home-based.
- These marketplaces already have an established and wide customer base which makes your product visible to a wider audience, and this method requires less marketing when compared to established a customer base for an independent website.
- As you’ll be showcasing your products on a pre-existing online platform you save a significant development cost.
Cons of an Online Marketplace
- An online marketplace acts as a host for numerous sellers, this makes it a very competitive platform as there will be numerous vendors who will sell similar products on the same platform.
- There is essentially no brand recognition when you sell on an online marketplace as customers tend to rely on the host more than your brand specifically
- As the control of the platform is in the hands of the original developer, it is not possible for one to create customer lists and retarget their buyers in the future.
An online store is a platform you develop and design yourself. It is unique and exclusive to your brand, a place where you can freely customize to your needs.
Pros of your Own Website
- Here you are literally your own boss in every way, as you have full control over the development, design, layout and customer reach.
Cons of your Own Website
- Setting up your own website can prove to be both expensive as well as time-consuming. Developing an independent web-page is very technical in nature thus it can be difficult to establish for entrepreneurs who don’t have extensive technical knowledge.
- Advertising and marketing can prove to be a lot of work, as you will be building a customer-base entirely from scratch. This will prove to be a lot of hard work and may also prove relatively expensive
The Hybrid Approach
To achieve both brand recognition and a wide customer reach many online merchants sell on both platforms. This approach can lead to a lot of work as managing both platforms can prove to be very tricky as both require attention and work, this approach may work for you if you have a separate team or an individual who is specifically dedicated to working towards managing the online platforms
Most merchants also start their business on one platform then move on to the other when they have established their standing in the market to a certain extent.
This was a basic understanding of both an online marketplace and an independent web store and will help you to choose a platform to work based on your individual targets and needs.