In the age of omni-channel retailing, many businesses are turning to the internet to broaden their customer base and fatten their bottom line. But with so many options out there – hosted ecommerce, buy buttons, ecommerce marketplaces, and more – how do you pick the best fit for your company?
Ultimately, expanding into a new digital channel has to align with your company’s strategy and what your brand represents to your customers. These are two necessary steps for every business; you can learn about more this in this great presentation.
It also always helps to be prepared with information, which is why VL will be publishing a How-To Guide once a month in 2016 for key ecommerce marketplaces, shopping cart platforms, and more. Each guide will contain key information about each platform, what you need to know about different vendor areas, and how to tie all of these applications and technology into a unified, harmonious back-end technology stack through hub-and-spoke data integration.
As a sneak preview to these guides, this blog post compares and contrasts two of the biggest ecommerce marketplace heavy weights out there: Amazon and eBay.
There’s no question that Amazon and eBay have their own distinct personas. Even though both fall under the broad category of ecommerce marketplaces, meaning platforms that allow third party vendors to sell into/off of each site, each property has their own very distinct offerings for both consumers and businesses.
You can almost think of the way Amazon and eBay approach their business model as distinct cultures – something that goes deeper than brand or marketing. Matching your business’ goals, strategy, functionality, products, and more against the cultures of Amazon and eBay is a good place to start your journey into expanding your online channels. Just don’t forget the most important factor: the customer and their experience with your brand online (and off).
Amazon is hands-down the place for consumers to go for new (or lightly used) items. Almost everyone’s familiar with Amazon’s rags-to-riches story: from their humble beginnings as a online book seller from inside of a garage, the business quickly branched out into selling just about anything and everything from their online hub today.
What Businesses Should Sell Into Amazon’s Marketplace?
Amazon is optimally used by professional sellers who are looking to sell their new products online to a mass and arguably captive market. Sellers use Amazon because they do not want to cut through the red-tape required to sell in a brick and mortar locations, or they want to augment their selling channels by exploring an established online marketplace like Amazon. Plenty of businesses sell here aiming to maximize reach across multiple platforms. Amazon has a professional persona, meaning their marketplace is tailored to the professional seller and not the one-off item seller. This persona is heavily tied with all aspects of Amazon’s business operations.
The Customer And Their Experience Buying from You on Amazon
Buying through Amazon makes the customer feel as if they are buying directly from Amazon.
With vendors this is actually true; Amazon buys the product from the vendor (you), and then the customer buys the product directly from Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Professional and individual sellers are the categories within Amazon who sell their product directly to the customer via Amazon, but still appear to be part of the Amazon brand from the consumer-facing side of things. One definite disadvantage of selling through Amazon as a result, is that it can be hard to publicize your brand if you are a reseller or bricks and mortar store. If you’re selling merchandise that’s branded to your company, you can avoid this drawback to a degree.
Download the free Amazon How-To Guide for Businesses
Amazon users experience seamless purchasing processes. Users experience relevant recommendations based on their prior searches from Amazon’s A9 search system. Successful sellers on Amazon have specified titles, detailed product descriptions, and related products. Customers expect Amazon sellers to abide by the highest selling standards and expect professionalism throughout the buying process. Customers also expect to be able to track their order from your warehouse to their doorstep; an expectation that requires fully integrated EDI or API systems with your shipping providers that can handle high volumes of digital orders and that meet Amazon’s high standards.
eBay is mostly used by the individual seller, or by those who have unique items to sell as a small batch or one-off. eBay is an ecommerce webspace where used products or collectibles are sold online. Originally known as AuctionWeb, eBay has stuck to its roots by allowing sellers to auction off just about anything.
eBay is also used by entrepreneurs and organizations who set up eBay stores. eBay is known as a great platform for professionals to gain entry into the marketplace without going through specialty stores. Sellers often offer customized or curtailed products in very limited numbers. eBay has a more humble and personalized persona which is tied to the individual sellers personality.
eBay customers feel like they are buying from an individual, as opposed to Amazon where the buyer has confidence buying under the Amazon brand name. Customers who buy from you on eBay may have less consumer confidence in what they buy and from whom as a result. eBay has tried to overcome this paradox by placing a high value on seller ratings, thereby making sellers accountable for any issues in shipments.
Learn more about eBay’s new Seller Standards in the eBay How-To Guide
eBay also allows for more customized listings when contrasted with Amazon. These customizable characteristics place the work on sellers, but can pay off as customers can become a direct fan and follower of your store on eBay.
eBay also places the fulfillment and shipping responsibilities squarely on the seller. Just like with Amazon, a fully integrated back-end technology stack including ERP and 3PLs is a must if a business hopes to be successful on eBay.
Amazon & eBay Core Similarities
The similarities between Amazon and eBay for sellers lies in the processes required to move product. As with any ecommerce activities elsewhere online, there is a distinct need for Amazon and eBay sellers to efficiently track inventory after sale. To make sure that merchandise has reached its intended destination and that the customer’s expectations on delivery transparency are met, a seller absolutely needs to have a robustly integrated omni-channel data stream.
With medium to larger or more complex sellers, there are organizational needs satisfied only by using properly integrated software. Sellers using multiple platforms to sell can expect to deal with APIs when integrating in order to manage these multiple marketplaces efficiently. CRM software is always needed to make sure all your customers are happy with your service, which absolutely should be tied into your other applications allowing transactional, social, and other data to be unified across the business.
As marketplace sellers, you can only be as successful as your integrations – they can either stifle you, or allow you to flourish. Picking an integration partner that will stick by you and help your business grow over the years to come is a large part of being successful online – book a conversation with VL to see if we’re a good fit for your business and to get some free expert insight!
If you are planning on selling on Amazon to reach a mass audience, if you are selling on eBay to deliver a specialized product, or if you are planning on using one of these platforms in conjunction with another e-commerce platform, integrating your programs with one another optimally is an essential part of business. Book a VL OMNI demo to understand how customized omnichannel data integration can help your business be all it can be in online marketplaces and more!
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