If you are a retailer, you probably already understand the benefits of being present online. But if you’re looking to grow your business and build a strong brand, you need to think strategically about the platforms on which you choose to be present.
Listing your business on an online marketplace is usually considered an easy first step and it can have a number of advantages. Firstly, it provides a seller visibility online. Online selling becomes easier as the seller can piggyback on the credibility of the marketplace. It may be harder when launching a new business to convince customers to enter their sensitive credit card data information on your website, rather than on a well-known online marketplace. There is usually no cost to enlisting your business and since there are standard online store templates, you can be up and running very quickly.
While listing on a marketplace is a good starting point, it’s not easy to build your brand or differentiate your offerings. A marketplace plays the role of a mediator, yet it doesn’t provide any scope for marketing your product. When you compete with thousands of other brands and companies on a marketplace, buyers won’t experience your brand; your relationship will be only transactional. Thus, it is hard to build a unique brand through a listing website or marketplace.
Using the best of both
The best approach is to leverage the advantage of a marketplace without relying on it completely. Your business will probably grow through listing websites in the short term. However, if you are really looking at consistently growing your business, it is important to establish your own brand, and a website is the best way to do that. A website is not only a completely unique place for people to find you online, but it reflects your brand personality and ethos.
This is true even if you do not sell online or have an online store. A website which conveys your brand personality and credibility can help you win over your customers from other competing brands listed on a marketplace or directory listing.
Think about it from a customer’s point of view. Let’s say you own a restaurant. Your customers may find you through a directory listing when they search for ‘restaurants near me.’ But they’re unlikely to choose your restaurant over the 20 other options unless they think your offerings are unique and exciting. However, an informative and well-designed website communicates exactly that and can help drive distinguish you from your competition.
To sum up, a marketplace can be good as a short term fix but if you are serious about growing your business, then a website is definitely the answer.
(This article was contributed by The Red Mark team)