by Angela Delaney
Amazon, Etsy or Ebay: Weighing up the pros and cons of the top online marketplaces for businesses
The internet has forever changed the way products are bought and sold, meaning the way businesses operate has also had to adapt.
The arrival and growth of online marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay has meant vendors of all shapes and sizes now have the opportunity to compete on a level retail field.
In order to get ahead of your competitors and profitably use these sites, you must first identify which e-commerce platform is the most suited to your product.
Below, we take a look at the pros and cons of each marketplace to help you select the best option for you and your business.
The largest online retailer operating in the UK, Amazon has grown from a seller of books to a seller of anything you can think of - including its own homegrown products.
Amazon offers the following benefits for your business:
- Trusted brand: Amazon’s credibility extends to its sellers
- User-friendly: Well-designed website with a smart search system, and convenient filters
- Top the listings: Use its Sponsored Products to get to the top of search listings
- Visibility: The platform showcases alternative sellers on product pages, including yours
- Guarantees: Shoppers buy with confidence due to Amazon’s guarantees
And the cons:
- Branding: Sellers cannot create a ‘store’ with their brand, but have to rely on their product images and descriptions
- Competition: Many sellers bulk-buy their goods, enabling them to sell it cheaper and potentially undercut your prices. Many also use automated repricing software to ensure their goods are continually adjusted to be the lowest price
- Lack of customer loyalty: Customers are more likely to identify Amazon as the brand and remain loyal to them
- Data capture: You’re not permitted to capture buyer’s email addresses, preventing you from contacting customers directly for feedback or with follow-up newsletters or offers.
eBay - the ‘anything goes’ marketplace for professionals and amateurs. With a competitive auction system, as well as buy-it-now options, the site attracts savvy shoppers looking for a bargain.
eBay offers the following benefits for your business:
- Large market: Access to 170m potential customers.
- Branding: From creating an eBay store and adding your company logo, to printed materials like thank you cards and packaging, you can start to build your brand on eBay
- Seller and buyer protections: Helps to ease any concerns buyers may have
- Feedback features: Allows sellers to build their reputation and improve trust
- New customer acquisition: eBay customers can be converted into regular customers with the help of great customer service and stand-out branding
- Ease of use: Product listing can be relatively simple, especially if you can use EAN numbers
- Global reach: With an eBay store you can sell anywhere in the world
- User experience: Shoppers are familiar with eBay and how it works, so this can lead to smoother transactions for shoppers.
And the cons:
- Seller fees: These can eat into profit margins
- Low prices: If multiple sellers are stocking the same product, this can drive prices down
- Time: Listing items, packing and sending orders out, or answering questions from buyers all take time
- Lack of customer loyalty: Customers are more likely to recognise eBay as the brand, and so you may need to work harder to retain your customers.
The leading marketplace for handmade goods, Etsy established itself as an e-retail boutique, connecting craftspeople and artisans directly to an audience that is interested in thoughtful, unique or personalised gifts.
Etsy offers the following benefits for your business:
- Large, targeted audience: 54 million members and 31.7 million active buyers
- Quality not quantity: Buyers are willing to pay more for quality goods
- Trusted site: Buyers will visit Etsy directly to browse for inspiration or search for specific products, as opposed to searching first on Google
- Analytics tools: Check the keywords people are searching for and refine advertising
And the cons:
- Brand awareness, part 1: Buyers are more likely to say they bought something from Etsy, as opposed to your brand
- Lack of personalisation: There are limited options available to customise your shop and develop your brand
- Competitor suggestion: If your product sells out, Etsy will recommend a similar product being sold by a competitor
- Market saturation: It is a competitive marketplace, with many sellers vying for attention.
Before committing to an online marketplace, weigh up the pros and cons of each platform and consider the type, and volume, of goods you want to sell, and how you want to sell them.
After selecting the e-retailer that is right for your business, do your research to find the most cost effective and reliable courier solution, or take a look at World Options Ship Manager for faster bulk shipping.
The World Options online shipping portal helps many businesses, who sell on Amazon, eBay or Etsy, eliminate hours of processing shipments by admin staff by automating the shipping process.
Find out more about World Options' courier integration software here