There are 3.2 billion people using the Internet and almost all of them are using it to shop. A poll by courier service UPS and analytics firm comScore found that for the first time ever, shoppers in the United States make more than half of their purchases online.
As an online retailer, you’ve taken the first step and created your own website. A self-controlled retail property is essential to building a strong business. It serves as a central hub for your branding and marketing efforts (including your paid search and social advertising). But once your site is up and running, your work isn’t done.
Collective retail platforms like Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Bing, Etsy, Alibaba, Buy.com, and countless others make it easy to list your products on their websites with little hassle. Even popular websites that don’t allow you to self-list your products open themselves to partnerships.
By listing your products with these types of outside sources, you realize several significant benefits.
Where Shopping Begins
For many people, an online shopping experience begins on a marketplace or search engine. A study last year by Survata found that only 21% of internet shoppers begin their product searches directly on retail websites. This is a significant change from just two years earlier. Plainly, many buyers prefer to search for products through marketplaces like Amazon or search engines like Google Shopping.
Even with the popularity of retail powerhouse Amazon, users continue to use basic search engines to find products they love. As you can see from the graph above, there was a similar increase in the number of shoppers who began their searches on Amazon and search engines.
This means that even if you choose not to list your products on a marketplace, listing them through ad networks like Google Shopping and Bing Product Ads is essential to competing on the internet.
1. Get More Traffic and Sales To Your Store
Large shopping marketplaces offer a centralized location to reach shoppers. These are the equivalent of physical shopping malls, where multiple stores are brought together to create more sales for them all. In fact, Forrester Research expects online sales to grow to $370 billion in 2017. There’s a lot of money up for grabs if you can cast your nets wide enough.
By listing with these platforms, you can leverage the audiences they have already spent time and money building. You may be implementing content marketing, email marketing, SEO, or social media strategies for your website, but these tactics take time. Listing your products outside your website puts your product in front of buyers right now.
“But aren’t there fees associated with using a marketplace?”
Yes. In most cases, the marketplace will cost you a little extra money in some way. Some take straight percentages off the sale. Others charge flat monthly fees. Google Shopping requires that you bid on ads. Generally these fees are low.
Even though your cost will increase slightly to sell each product, you can ensure you’ll draw an acceptable margin with smart pricing strategies. You’ll come out ahead in sheer volume.
2. Build Loyalty and Trust With Your Brand
People like shopping at their favorite stores. They are loyal because they’ve successfully done business with those stores in the past. Repeat business is responsible for 40% of an average store’s revenue. They know the transactions are easy and likely to arrive in a timely manner.
The financial exchange is the most sensitive part of the online purchase. If a customer has never purchased from you before, they might be uneasy about giving away their money without some evidence that you can hold up your end of the sale.
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This is a tough obstacle to overcome if your store doesn’t have a popular brand name. Customers will also resist buying from unknown stores if they’re only making one-off purchases. For instance, if the customer likes fishing, he may buy from a niche fishing store. But when it comes time to buy his grandmother’s birthday gift, he’ll likely to go a marketplace. Being deliberate and proactive about things can help you reduce churn and build loyalty.
So it’s no surprise that big marketplaces attract repeat buyers. When the brand is well known and the transaction was simple, people return. Even when you sell your products through Google Shopping, there’s still the underlying referral from Google, which associates your brand with Google’s positive branding.
3. Take Advantage of Comparison Shopping
The market is full of similar products. In some cases, your product might be indistinguishable from others.
Just like a buyer would compare two items in a physical store, customers like to browse multiple products that would fit their needs. The best place to do this is on a marketplace because they can access similar products.
On your website, buyers only have access to your inventory. On a big marketplace, they can pull up dozens of products. You’ve probably done this yourself by opening a few tabs and flipping back and forth. Yes, this means that occasionally a buyer will choose another product over yours. But if your product is hidden on your own website, the buyer would have never considered it.
4. Acquire New Customers
By listing your product on someone else’s website, you’re gaining exposure. You’ll make your brand known to customers who weren’t aware that products like yours existed.
Over time, you’ll build trust with customers who will come straight to your website. This often happens sooner than you’d think.
Google Shopping and Bing Product Ads provide special advantages here. When you list an item through Google or Bing’s marketplaces, the sale happens on your website. The thank-you email, receipt, and future communications happen with your name and branding. You can market directly to this customer through your other channels. Even though you paid an ad fee for the first sale, the cost becomes less expensive each time you make a future sale.
These unique advantages are some of the reasons we encourage our customers to utilize Google and Bing’s shopping platforms.
5. Reach New Markets
A lot of businesses in the United States struggle to sell outside the country. Shipping costs to buyers across the oceans can quickly become prohibitive.
Some marketplaces allow you take advantage of their group shipping rates. You could sell products outside of the range of your own website. In some cases, like Amazon, you may have to use their fulfillment service to obtain these special rates.
Furthermore, big websites like Google, Amazon and eBay are popular shopping solutions for people who don’t speak your language. They handle all of the language translating. Some even take care of multi-language customer support and currency conversions for you.
For the same reason you would want to place your product in as many stores as possible should you try to list your product with as many online stores as you can. Each listing is an opportunity to put your product in front of potential buyers.
Author: Bogdan Chertes
Bogdan has helped dozens of ecommerce businesses grow sales and acquire more customers by using data driven PPC marketing strategies.
At Adfix, he leads a team of top class PPC and Social Media experts that help clients maximize ROI from their campaigns.