Many eBay sellers are diversifying to other marketplaces and also selling from their own websites. Here Gill James from Foilplay (who also blogs here) offers her perspectives on going it alone and establishing an independent ecommerce website:
This month I’m feeling mostly relief, tinged with a bit of sadness. After trading on eBay pretty much continuously over the last five years, it’s time now to move on and concentrate on the website side of my business. I don’t want to burn any bridges, there may well be a place for eBay in my sales channel portfolio at some point in the future, but right now I need a break from the constant change – of which, much more to come, as we heard from eBay Analyst Day last week.
One of the great things about eBay is the ease and speed with which it is possible to establish and build up a new business. Websites can take much longer to establish, a much more ‘slow burn’ process, but hang on in there, and it can be well worth your while in the end.
Building a website can be dispiriting in the early stages, a lot of work may have to go in before you see any return, and it can be tempting to give up at that stage. Don’t do it! The great thing about a website is that you lay a foundation and then build on it incrementally. The initial work may be harder, but ongoing maintenance is much easier – for example, you don’t have keep relisting everything every 30 days. Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate actual progress made day by day or week by week – but when you start to look back year on year, you can really see how far you’ve come.
There are many ways to improve the profile of your website and drive traffic to it: flyers with orders; permissible links from other sales channels; mailing list; social networking; SEO; ad words; other forms of advertising and more. Some of these are very simple and straightforward, others take more work. I’m not an expert on any of this, there is still plenty of room for improvement on my own website and plenty on this list that I need to get stuck into. Again my message is, just get started!
Of course there is no reason why you can’t run a successful website alongside eBay, Amazon and/or any other sales channels of your choice. Personally, I’m happy as a sole trader and given the finite number of hours in a day, the decision to take a break from eBay and concentrate on the website right now is the right one for me.
I know too (before you tell me so, North!) that websites may not suit all market sectors and business models. I operate in a sector with a lot of repeat business, which has been a big help in growing my site.
If you’re at the stage where you are thinking about setting up your own website, I hope this has encouraged you to just take that first step. If you have the patience to see it through in the long run, your efforts may be well rewarded.