The eCommerce industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. With the increasing popularity of online shopping, businesses are now looking to establish a strong online presence. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which route to take.
Should you go for a marketplace or a standalone store? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, such as your business goals, budget, and target audience.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the pros and cons of each option to help you make the best decision for your business.
A standalone single vendor eStore is an online store that sells products from a single supplier. It belongs solely to the business owner, and the customers deal with them directly. The advantage of using a standalone single-vendor eStore is that you can have complete control over your product selection and prices. You don’t have to worry about dealing with multiple vendors, shipping delays, or unwanted sales leads. Here are some added advantages of having your own web store.
Create a UI that Suits Your Business
SaaS options such as Shopify and BigCommerce provide many options for creating your store, including several themes, languages, and unending customization options. This means you have virtually unlimited customization options when it comes to designing your store. You can create great first impressions among first-time visitors with your UI design.
Create Your Own Loyal Customer Base
With the help of email marketing, you have the option to reach out to specially curated customer groups. With the information you have about your customers, you can know who exactly purchases regularly from your store, and then market to them directly. This not only creates a loyal customer base for you, but it also saves you extra marketing costs in the long run.
Keep Everything You Earn
Unlike a marketplace, you are the sole owner of your store. With no fees or listing prices involved, you get to take home all of what you earn. Your only expenses are the upkeep of your website and the fees you pay for services inside it (like payment gateways and premium plugins).
Flexibility in Terms of Offers
You don’t have to wait for marketplace sale days, instead you can offer discounts and offers whenever you feel like it.
When it comes to eCommerce website development, you have a few different options for development platforms. One option is to develop the store from scratch, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Another option is to use a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform.
SaaS platforms offer many benefits for businesses developing an online store. First, SaaS platforms are much easier and faster to set up than a custom-developed store. This is because the platform provider has already done the heavy lifting in terms of development and hosting. All the business needs to do is sign up for an account and populate its store.
Second, SaaS platforms are typically more affordable than custom development. This is because the business only pays a monthly subscription fee, rather than the full cost of custom development.
Third, SaaS platforms offer a wide range of features and integrations that businesses can take advantage of. This means that businesses can get started quickly and add new features as their needs evolve.
Finally, SaaS platforms are constantly evolving, which means that businesses can take advantage of new features and integrations as they become available.
A marketplace refers to a third-party service where multiple businesses and vendors may sell their products, like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. A huge majority of people prefer to look up products on such marketplaces before deciding to make a purchase. In fact, Amazon constitutes 45% of the US eCommerce market (repricer express). Selling your products on online multi-vendor marketplaces comes with a few advantages.
Begin Whenever You Want
You have no need to invest in a domain name, hosting, or setting up of a website. Marketplaces have all the selling and tracking features and mechanisms in place. All you need to do is register yourself as a seller, and you’re good to go.
Multi-vendor marketplaces have their own customer bases, most of whom return frequently to make purchases. As such, reaching them isn’t a problem.
Marketplaces tend to have their own proprietary shipping services in place, which means you don’t have to worry about shipping and order management.
More Payment Options
Marketplaces generally offer a wider variety of payment options than is usually possible for standalone web stores. These payment features are integrated into the marketplace, so you don’t have to make additional payments to access them either. Wider payment options also help to reduce cart abandonment rates.
Ready-made Mobile Apps
A majority of product searches and research is conducted on mobile phones. As such, having a mobile app for the marketplace is a great way for your products to be viewed by a large number of people. Creating a mobile app is usually an expensive affair, so it may not be possible for web store owners. However, marketplaces generally have their own apps which are optimized for customer preferences and always get updated.
It is important to note that there are also certain disadvantages when it comes to selling on marketplaces.
All marketplaces levy charges on sellers, usually in proportion to the amount of sales they make (it can also be a fixed amount). Registration fees, added with listing fees and selling fees, can really add up and prove too expensive for many sellers.
In a marketplace, the lowest price always wins. This means you will always have the pressure of staying affordable, especially since all of your competitors are in the same place, and visible to all of your potential customers. If someone can afford to provide a better offer for the same product as yours on a marketplace, you will likely lose out
No Loyal Customer Base
Most buyers who purchase products on marketplaces don’t really care about the sellers themselves. Many of your customers won’t even be aware of your name, which means the chance to create brand awareness is usually very low.
How to Choose?
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to develop a standalone eStore or a multi-vendor marketplace. Here are the key considerations to help you decide which route is best for your business.
1. Nature of Products
The first thing to consider is the nature of your business and products. If you sell unique or niche products, a standalone eStore may be the best option as it will allow you to have full control over your inventory and branding. On the other hand, if you sell commodity products that are widely available, a multi-vendor marketplace may be a better option as it will give you access to a larger pool of potential customers.
2. Target Audience
If you have a specific target audience in mind, a standalone eStore will allow you to tailor your offerings to meet their needs. On the other hand, a multi-vendor marketplace will allow you to reach a wider range of customers and tap into the network effect of having multiple vendors selling on your platform.
3. Budget and Resources
Setting up a standalone eStore requires a significant upfront investment, including website development, product sourcing, and marketing. A multi-vendor marketplace requires lower upfront investment, but you will need to invest in developing and maintaining the platform, attracting and onboarding vendors, and managing customer support.
4. Revenue Model
With a standalone eStore, you will be responsible for all aspects of the business, including product sourcing, marketing, and customer support. In a multi-vendor marketplace, you will earn a commission on sales made through the platform, but you will also need to manage the logistics of product fulfillment and customer support.
5. Long-term Goals
If you want to grow the business quickly and scale to a large number of users, a multi-vendor marketplace may be a better option as it will give you access to a larger customer base. However, if you want to have full control over the business and keep it more intimate, a standalone eStore may be a better option.
Deciding between a standalone eStore or a multi-vendor eCommerce marketplace can be a challenge for businesses looking to establish an online presence. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice will depend on factors such as business goals, budget, and target audience. A standalone eStore offers complete control over product selection and pricing, while a SaaS platform provides an easier and more affordable option for setting up an online store. On the other hand, selling on a multi-vendor marketplace offers access to a pre-existing customer base and a variety of payment options, but comes with marketplace fees and limited control over branding and product presentation. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on the specific needs and goals of each business.