Tuesday 8 November 2016

How to decide if you need a dedicated ecommerce site

After spending a bit of time on online marketplaces and getting acclimatised to the working environment on the web, many sellers start wondering whether now is the time to break off and fly solo by investing in a dedicated website. This has many reasons – the lack of creativity and customizability in terms of online marketplaces, the individual need for branding, or a bad customer service experience from a marketplace.
Although all these reasons are good enough to start your own dedicated website, this decision has to be made carefully and deliberately. Launching (and selling out of) your own website can also have a lot of pitfalls, and you must be wary of them.
There are trust issues among buyers, there is the matter of convenience and those of loyalty. These are important factors that contribute to most online sales for average customers. A lot of work has to go in creating and maintaining a sales website if it has to operate and compete with the online marketplace mainstream. This is why you need to carefully analyse the existing market structure and extrapolate it for the future before you decide to take this step. Here, we are giving you 5 important guidelines to decide whether you must seriously consider starting your independent sales venture or not.

Should You Start Your Own Website?

You might first want to answer the questions below.

1. What sort of a product do you sell?

Is it something commonly available on any online marketplace, or a niche product that is not readily available? If your product belongs to the first category, you will have to work extra hard to create a USP for it. It can be anything – quality, service or customization. The idea is to convince customers to buy the product from your website rather than from any of the commonplace vendors in the marketplace. If you can’t readily point out this attribute, you will have to work on creating and sustaining it.

2. How should you manage your competition?

In an average online marketplace, you will face a lot of competition. A way to get ahead of this rat race is to provide great service, strive for positive feedback and secure your position as a trustworthy seller. Keeping an eye on your competition is a good way to see whether there is scope for horizontal expansion through the creation of a dedicated website. Study the moves of your competitors, excavate patterns, and make an informed decision.

3. Do you have the budget to start your website?

Creating and managing your website is not a small task. It requires a lot of time, money and infrastructure. A few things you will have to look out for while calculating your budget are the server rates for your domain, the website designing fees, rates for Shopify/Zepo, marketing and branding fees, SEO, SEM, etc. If you think your venture can break even and make profits after spending resources on all the above, you can decide on making your own sales website.

4. Do you have the inventory and the technology?

Apart from the things mentioned in the point above, you will need a few more vital resources. You will need a branding, marketing and operations team that individually monitors each of these areas. Secondly, there is no point starting a dedicated website if you don’t have enough products to sell. We recommend making sure that you have at least a hundred SKUs ready to ship before launching your website. Thirdly, you will need some technological help in managing your new website. Things will be very easy for you if you are already using a multi-channel inventory management system.

5. Do you have a marketing strategy?

Finally, you must have a marketing strategy in place to consolidate your position in the online market. You will be facing competition from various other marketplaces and dedicated websites. Follow the moves of your competition closely. At the same time, introspect, find your niche and work to hone it. Use various social media, search engines and other resources available to you to create and grow your customer base. Take professional help in brand management and marketing. Make sure that you have a part of your budget allocated to it.
By recognising your niche, working to highlight it, smart branding and sustenance of great customer service, you can become successful as an independent online seller.

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