Is building your own webstore really a good idea?

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In the face of eBay’s recent announcements requiring mandatory managed returns and introducing new criteria regarding defects, many sellers here on Tamebay have said they will be investing in the development of their own ecommerce websites.

The attraction is obvious. It means freedom to make your own decisions, the liberty from rules and fees and the choice to set more competitive prices. What’s not to like?

Well, there are lots of reasons why shoppers like to buy from eBay and Amazon. And it can be hard to find cut through online. It’s one thing building an online store but then also quite another attracting buyers and the traffic you need to make it profitable.

Some off-the-peg solutions are dead cheap but more bespoke options can be fiendishly pricey.

That’s why Andy Geldman’s latest article on Web Retailer caught my eye. He looks at the pros and cons of taking leave from marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon and going solo. He makes a lot of good points. Not least, he notes that it isn’t easy.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t an opportunity, possibility and potentially a huge success. It could be. It’s just that it is bloody hard. The big marketplaces have the money and expertise when it comes to marketing and that’s hard to replicate. Do have a read.

13 Responses

  1. It’s definitely a good idea, simply to increase profit.

    Google Shopping is something to be considered as it helps you to compete with big Retailers. It is cheaper than Adwords and gives better ROI.

  2. Timely and thought provoking article from Andy. A couple of points. Google is the place my daughter goes to for shopping. And Google will at some point challenge the marketplaces (who will ultimately have to show sellers more respect than they do now).

    We have run our website alongside eBay/Amazon for 8 years. The best we ever do on the website is 10% of turnover and we pay approx the same to Google as we do in marketplace fees. It also takes additional time to list each product to the site although not much as we use eSellerPro which uses much the same data.

    Over the years I have agonised over many of the points Andy makes and the one that stands out is the need to give buyers a reason to buy from you. Selling largely commodity items this is hard for us.

    My advice. Make the site easy, fast and interesting to use with the best search technology. Make the most of lazy buyers who don’t have a lot of time by helping them to find the product they need by good use of filters and keywords.


  3. I think starting your own website is a great idea and I wish I’d thought of it.

    To solve the traffic issue I’m gonna ask eBay to swap website links. Happy days!! 🙂

  4. Website margins are higher and website operating costs are lower. I receive a higher number of basket purchases so average order values are higher than ebay.

    The downside is I have to carry more stock for a website as the average stock holding time is longer and to compete with the “marketplaces” the range of goods offered has to be large which helps with SEO and credibility. As a collectables seller the offer is niche product to a niche market which also helps.

    This weekend my website sales have outstripped ebay store sales 40% by value although the website carries far more stock.

    I have no ebay/website stock duplication to keep things simple. I like to offer around 200 products at a time on ebay and carry a minimum of 800 products on the website. More than that and the number of daily orders becomes excessive and unmanageable for a sole trader. I am constantly tweeking prices to maintain sales at a consistent level. This can be by increasing prices to choke sales or reducing prices to increase sales.

    What I will say is that if I move items from the website to ebay things do sell fast on ebay however margins are affected so it is always a balancing act between website and ebay to manage turnover and margins. .

  5. Hi Guys n Gals.
    Over the last few years we have tried our own websites, amazon trading and ebay trading at various levels of success
    1, DIY Website:
    Lock yourself in a locked room with no outside interuptions and you may get some success !
    2, Professional built SEO website:
    Say goodbye to control and your wallet will get MUGGED !! Success small!!
    3, Amazon: Prepare to play poker in bluff and counter bluff with your competitors and then wait up to three weeks for your money, tried it didnt like it!
    4, eBay:
    okay yes they you have you over a barrel so to speak, but from our expierance it is the must cost effective solution for work input to sales volume out of all the options

  6. To add to previous in my niche product area online sales and eccomerce shops do dominate over ebay and bricks and mortar and there is no real Amazon presence so the only “marketplace” competition is ebay. So my buyers I guess are used to googling and shopping on websites.

    I don’t know how a website would fare if ebay and Amazon dominate the online sales sector. Thinking refurbished electricals books maybe, and similar.

    So the website thing is down to your personal knowledge of your marketplace in which you operate, how dominant the main players are, how shoppers are used to buying, and whether there is a niche market where dominant players are weak.

  7. What????? Increasing prices to choke sales? Are you serious?

    Choke sales???? That’s just totally stupid, I am really lost for words…..etc….

    Who doesn’t want sales? If its such an issue then employ someone or remove the item from inventory.

    I have no understanding of your model but I wish had that luxury.

    IMO: Totally ridiculous and stupid and certainly not a way to do business. I certainly won’t be hiring you as a consultant or mentor.

    Choke sales is the most retarded thing I have read for ages. Unreal!!!

  8. We’re certainly going to heading down that route alongside eBay.
    We’re considering Bigcommerce or Shopify at present, having given the free trial a go on both, we seem to prefer Bigcommerce at the minute.

  9. Andy Geldman’s article hits the nail on the head – you need to give buyers a compelling reason to buy from your website. Having run sales from both ebay and my home grown website, I find the website good for very niche products which buyers simply can’t get elsewhere. They find these mostly through (free) Google searches. If these were on ebay any profit would be lost on relist/FV fees.

    Conversely, some very saleable items sit on my website unsold, when I move them to ebay they usually fly out for a good price. It’s horses for courses, abandoning ebay and setting up your own website will not automatically increase your profit. The cost of the e-commerce solution is just the start, you then have to a) get buyers to visit your website as opposed to another one and b) give them a very good reason to buy there. A lower price might just work, but often I find not – and I agree it is bloody hard work!

  10. This is the same person who did a feature on eBay’s biggest sellers totally missing out one if not the biggest on until it was pointed out to him on another forum. Now there’s someone who’s advice I wouldn’t trust.

    Relying on marketplaces is commercial suicide, eBay and Amazon can kill and close down your business in a heartbeat no matter what size you are, seen it happen too many times over the years, from small sellers selling a few hudred quid a month to multi-million pound companies.

    Paul’s reply above is spot on…
    “Amidst the shifting sands of the marketplaces that can bring your business down in a second, your own website is a little bit of concrete real estate that you own and you can build it up at your own pace.”


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