Just over the weekend, woke up to surprising news that Rakuten is shutting down its e-commerce sites in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia beginning March, 2016. Against the backdrop of an intensively competitive e-commerce environment in Southeast Asia, the war of attrition among the online marketplace giants (Lazada, Qoo10 being the other 2 leading ones) has claimed a major casualty.
This development would undoubtedly have an impact on the e-commerce strategies for hundreds of brands and many more merchants that are currently selling on Rakuten marketplaces in the 3 countries.
Besides shifting more resources and focus to the remaining online marketplaces (and simply hoping they survive longer), businesses should now seriously consider the need to set up their own e-commerce storefronts, instead of relying only on online marketplaces whose destinies they have no control over.
Here are 3 compelling reasons to leave online marketplaces and start your own e-commerce storefront.
1. Build your own brand
When you use online marketplaces, you do get the benefit of the brand names. After all, most online shoppers know what Lazada, Qoo10 and Rakuten are. You can be assured and even guaranteed of shopper traffic and eyeballs on your products listed on these marketplaces, that’s for sure.
With their seemingly infinite financial firepower, these marketplaces can advertise and attract many more customers than your own e-commerce storefront can.
However, when someone buys whatever that you are selling from one of these marketplaces, who do you think they will say they bought it from? Your company? Nope. They’ll say Lazada/Qoo10/Rakuten.
Without the ability to create your own content and build your own brand to differentiate yourself from a sea of similar sellers, you’re just a needle in a haystack.
In fact, you’re continuing to build someone else’s brand when you sell within the online marketplaces. Lazada and Qoo10 will just keep getting bigger and bigger, while your brand is just one of the many that contributes to their phenomenal, not yours.
And if one of these key players falters and cease operations the way Rakuten did, then you have to scramble for the next online marketplace to peddle and start the building process all over again.
Never hand over control of your business’ destiny to someone else.
2. Be in control of your marketing budget
Online marketplaces typically make money by either charging merchants a flat monthly subscription fee, or a % commission per transaction, or both.
Additional fees apply for benefits and features such as premium listing and highlighted marketing blitz, which many times you would need to be able to get your products noticed in the crowdedness of the marketplaces amid intense competition from other sellers vying for the same consumer dollar.
When all these costs add up, the cost of selling could end up being as high as 40% of your selling price, which leaves you with little profitability to show for after all the hard work that you have put in!
And you most likely have to keep doing it to attract new eyeballs and consumer interest to your products in a vicious cycle that you cannot get out of, not unlike the “Groupon effect” where customer-merchant relationships are reduced to the individual transactions with little to no impact on long-term loyalty and retention.
Given the proliferation of digital and social marketing options currently available and accessible to merchants, you would be better off channeling funds that you spend on online marketplaces instead to marketing campaigns that help can you build a loyal customer base and following right from the start.
3. Your efforts should reward yourself, not others
Notice how all the marketing advice that you get from online marketplaces always center around promotions, offers and special deals to attract consumers to buy more of your products, but never quite mention anything about building your brand?
This is simply because online marketplaces do not have any incentive to help you build your brand; they are only keen on raising your product sale volume, which contributes to their Gross Merchandise Volume, or GMV, which aids in their market valuation and hence appeal to shareholders and investors.
Sure, you get the boost to sales in the short term, but all the efforts (and resources) that you put into packaging and marketing your products on these marketplaces only end up serving their long-term brand objectives, not yours. Consumers attracted by your offers are going to the marketplaces to buy, not your own site.
In other words, you make them look good. Not yourself.
With your own brand and e-commerce storefront, everything you do, every single dollar you spend, to market your brand, your products, and your company, serves to elevate only yourself. No other company will receive benefits from the blogs and articles you write, the social media posts you share, or the interesting product clips that you post to YouTube.
Everything that you do should only be towards realising your dream, and not someone else’s.
There is no doubt that online marketplaces have helped spur online shopping and created a compelling case for both buyers and sellers alike to jump onboard the e-commerce bandwagon, kickstarting many a successful online business in the process.
However, as a business with serious and long-term brand building intent, you should look beyond immediate convenience and benefits, and start immediately on developing your own e-commerce storefront to take control of your destiny towards a much more rewarding goal.
We recently helped a watch retailer build an e-commerce storefront that quickly outsold its product listings on Amazon marketplace. To find out how we can help achieve the same for your business, contact us at: email@example.com