Amazon is one of the best ways to launch a new business, but it’s not always enough to develop a rising business. If you’re looking for stronger business growth, it might be time to learn how to diversify off of Amazon.
You may also be wary of putting all of your eggs in one basket. Amazon is certainly one of the steadiest and most successful marketplaces today. But relying on a third-party platform for your sales could put you in hot water.
What if you suddenly lost good standing with Amazon because you had a false or counterfeit claim?
What if a reseller “stole” your listing and completely ruined your Amazon brand reputation?
You don’t want to be at the mercy of the all-powerful Amazon giant.
You don’t want to be at the mercy of any one platform, partner, or customer.
Diversification is the best way to mitigate risk and open up more revenue avenues.
So how can you diversify off of Amazon and transform from an Amazon seller to a private brand?
The challenge of diversification
Before we tell you how to diversify off of the Amazon platform, we’re going to address why diversification is so challenging for so many sellers.
Amazon is dominating the e-commerce sphere. Its current customer base and seller base is unparalleled. And Bezos is only continuing to grow Amazon’s offerings. The customers, services, product listings, and branding have made it an e-commerce star. But this is holding back some Amazon sellers from expansion.
As of Prime Day 2018, there are over 100 million Prime subscribers. Prime likely makes up around 60% of Amazon’s total customer base. This means that the Amazon platform attracts approximately 170 million active customers. Not only is the quantity of customers high, but the quality is strong as well. Prime customers are loyal to Amazon and Amazon’s Prime sellers. So third-party sellers instantly have loyal customers at their doorsteps.
New businesses love having the expanse of Amazon customers available to them. Moving away from this on other platforms can often feel like a “downgrade” of prospective customers. (This isn’t true, but it can feel that way to new sellers.)
Amazon simplifies certain processes for sellers, especially new sellers learning the ropes. For example, sellers can use Amazon FBA, which handles all aspects of the logistical backend of selling. With FBA, businesses don’t even have to touch or house their inventory at any point. Amazon also simplifies marketing by offering a number of PPC campaigns and lightning deals. Sellers simply have to input their keywords, cost of marketing, and Amazon does most of the advertising work for them.
Moving away from this ease of operations can be overwhelming for small to medium sized Amazon businesses. They that don’t currently have warehousing and logistical processes in place. Or they don’t know how to appropriately market their business. They like the ease of a one-stop selling shop that Amazon provides.
Amazon listings are comprehensive but simple. They’re templated and easy to create based on how Amazon best attracts customers. Sellers just have to input information and keywords into the basic or Enhanced Brand Content templates and they’re off. The ease of creating a single product listing is unparalleled.
Expanding to other platforms requires more in-depth product descriptions, images, and brand information. Inexperienced sellers might not know how to create this stuff on their own.
On Amazon, “brand” is less important than product. Amazon tries to keep their Amazon-image as steady as possible. So third-party sellers don’t necessarily need to create their own brands if they don’t want to. For those that want branding, Amazon makes it easy to sell your private label with Enhanced Brand Content and the Amazon Brand Registry.
Overall, though, building a brand voice is less important on Amazon than it is on your own platform. For companies that don’t yet have an established and differentiated brand, moving off of Amazon can be risky.
It’s easy to see how Amazon is the go-to for a number of sellers, especially for those who are new and learning. Amazon is a powerhouse of sales and customers and it’s incredibly easy to use.
For a lot of sellers, moving off of Amazon is terrifying. Amazon is consistent and reliable, while other platforms feel riskier.
But the biggest risk is actually not diversifying.
So how can you diversify in a way that optimizes your business without stunting your growth?
1. Stay on Amazon
Diversification does not mean you need to pull away from Amazon. In fact, diversification can actually make your Amazon business stronger. When you have a following on other platforms, you start to gain brand awareness and customer loyalty. This can improve the traffic on your Amazon page as well.
You don’t need to neglect your Amazon business. Start by streamlining your Amazon shop, so it can continue to flourish while you focus your growth efforts elsewhere.
2. Stay Consistent
No matter how you diversify, you need to remain consistent. This means that if you sell a product for $5 on Amazon, you need to sell it for $5 everywhere else as well. If you describe a product on Amazon as “luxury,” you won’t describe it as “affordable” on other platforms.
Your brand and products should look and feel the same no matter how your customers come in contact with them. This is critical to building a brand that shows long-term success.
3. Build a Brand
Selling private label is more than just selling products with your label on them. Anyone can pop a label on a bottle and try to sell. But today’s customers care more about the brands they’re buying from as opposed to the product itself. That’s because the brand tells them how the product will fit their lifestyle.
Studies show that consumers buy based on beliefs and branding. This is especially true for younger generations, like Millennials and Gen Z. So having a strong brand that your target audience relates to, not only increases sales, but also engenders a loyal, long-term following.
Ensuring that you have a strong following of engaged customers is the ultimate layer of protection. Your brand fans are what make your business thrive—even more so than the platform you’re on. Even if Amazon went under, your website crashed, and every e-commerce store stopped working—you could still call on your brand fans to make sales.
A brand turns you from a seller to a business. It becomes your key differentiator against other e-commerce competitors. Learn how to build a brand with the following resources:
- 5 Definitive Ways To Build Your E-Commerce Brand’s Voice
- How To Stay On-Brand With Your Mission Statement
- Who Is The Spokesperson For Your Brand?
- Choosing Brand Colors For Your Business
4. Create a Shopify Website
Every business should have its own website. Hosting your own site is the only way to maintain complete control over your products and sales. If all other selling platforms were to go extinct tomorrow, you could still rely on sales and customers from your website.
Plus, hosting your own site can actually give you more credibility as an Amazon seller. Customers will see your brand name on Amazon when looking at a product, and they might want to search you on Google before they buy. When your brand’s website pops up, it proves your credibility as a seller. They can then also determine if your brand is something with which they can relate. This credibility and authenticity can improve your Amazon and website sales.
Note: Having your own website is a great way to protect your brand name from scammers. You should also register with Amazon’s Brand Registry to make sure you are the sole owner of your product label.
We recommend using Shopify because it’s the easiest and most successful site builder for e-commerce stores. Shopify can also integrate with your Amazon listings. BigCommerce and Squarespace are also viable retail options.
5. Sell On Other Marketplaces
Don’t limit yourself to one or two platforms. The more places you host your products and brands, the greater your visibility and sales. You’ll start to build greater brand awareness by placing your name and products on multiple sites. It can also help boost your SEO by giving more space to include keywords that associate with your products. Plus, you have more opportunities to make sales.
Moreover, if one marketplace fails, the others are there to back you up. If you sell on four platforms and one suddenly goes under, you’re only losing 25% of your sales. If you sold on only one platform, you’d lose all of your sales just like that.
There are a number of top-level e-commerce marketplaces that you can consider. Many have a similar market share as Amazon, but they attract different types of products and customers. Consider researching other marketplaces to see if their target matches your business. Others to consider include:
You don’t even have to create the content for these marketplaces yourself. There are software and tools that can help you streamline all of your platforms to maintain consistency. Check out Skubana and ChannelAdvisor, and contact Seller’s Choice to get started.
6. Try Flash Sale Sites
Flash sale sites will put up your products and discounts for a limited time period or until you sell through all of the units. Although this isn’t necessarily a long-term marketplace, this can be a great way to diversify your sales avenues.
You’ll open up to a new type of audience that follows these flash sale sites, which can improve the awareness of your brand moving forward. A bump in sales not only pushes through stale inventory but it can also get more customers to try out your products. This opens the door to get a review (that can improve your social worth) and capture a long-term customer.
Flash sales can be a short-term method to increase long-term visibility and sales.
Learn more about how to use flash sale sites here.
(You can also try hosting a flash sale on your own website, though the purpose and results are slightly different.)
7. Build an Email List
One of the most important parts of diversification is customer retention. You want to have multiple avenues to grab your customer’s information. This can help you build a sturdy list of brand fans regardless of your e-commerce platform.
Your email list is basically the only control you have over your customers. You’re not relying on Amazon to bring in your customers. You also have a way to retain customers, because Amazon typically wants to keep their own customers away from you.
Email marketing gives you the opportunity to collect customer info, share content, and advertise promotions in a coordinated way.
Conclusion: How to Diversify off of Amazon
Diversification mitigates risk, improves brand awareness, enhances sales traffic, and builds a loyal customer base. If you want to protect and grow your business, then you want to use Amazon as a launch point for other marketplaces as well.
This is a guest post by Andrew Maff, Director of Marketing and Operations for Seller’s Choice, a full-service digital marketing agency for e-commerce sellers. Seller’s Choice provides uniquely personalized marketing and managed services for digital marketplace sellers, e-commerce merchants, and brand builders worldwide. You can learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting here.