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Pros and cons of selling on Amazon, eBay and Etsy

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Oct. 21, 2014
E-commerce business owners and digital marketing experts discuss the pros and cons of selling on Amazon, eBay and Etsy vs. selling on a standalone site -- and why it can pay to do both.

Furthermore, "there are a lot of copycats on Etsy," she adds. "We've seen shops that have been strongly 'inspired' by ours, down to the listing format, description and policy page. Some shops have even duplicated our exact listing down to the product photos!"

Standalone Ecommerce Site

Control over branding and messaging. "The Dot Girl website includes articles and information, the company history and mission along with a product video, all of which help Dot Girl create brand awareness," explains Pickus. "This ability to include additional company information is not available on [for example] Amazon."

"Having a standalone site allows you to display your branding and message however you like, via video, etc.," notes Droogan. "Especially with a new and unique product, a standalone site builds brand trust."

"On my site, I also have my blog, a gallery page of new work, an about page and links to my Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr pages," says Rodgers. "Some (but not all) of these features are available on Etsy, but my website is easier to navigate and it looks clean and cohesive -- everything is right there."

Access to customer information. "Only when the customer is your own customer do you have full access to all of his/her contact information for future communications, mailing lists, etc.," notes Droogan.

Capability to run (and advertise) promotions/offer discounts. "A key advantage to selling on your own site: it's easy to implement discount rules/offers, such as Buy 2 Get 1 Free," or offer customers 10 percent off, says Daniel Rensing, founder & CEO, The Smart Baker, who previously sold on Etsy. Similarly, you can "easily add and change homepage banners/sliders [to advertise] special promotions."

Lack of visibility/you're harder to find. One of the main advantages of selling via an Amazon, eBay or Etsy is that you often have a greater, or easier, chance of having your products discovered by potential customers, especially if you are a new business. You also don't typically have to pay to advertise.

With a standalone ecommerce site, however, it can take months until your site or pages show up on a search engine. Even then it may be hard for customers to find you, unless you advertise, which can be expensive.

Managing and marketing your own site can be time consuming and expensive. No matter how turnkey an ecommerce solution says it is, you will still need to spend a bunch of time setting it up and customizing it -- and actively managing it. Whereas on Etsy, for example, "no back-end work is needed," says Rensing. You will also need to handle marketing and fulfillment with your own ecommerce site, or pay someone to perform those functions, which can get expensive and be time consuming.


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