You sit at the computer, with one task - start your online store. You're pretty sure of the platform you're going to use.
But the internet has other plans...
After a few minutes, you find you need to look something up, so you do a search. Immediately you’re faced with a dozen articles that fill you with doubt once again.
Thoughts run through your head, like what if you choose the wrong platform? What if that costs you more money and time, while you’re missing out on the sales you could have made another way?
What if you put in all that work only to find out it’s not working for you?
Then your email dings, with a poorly timed email persuading you to think again. Seems like good info, so you read it and go down another internet rabbit hole.
Before you know it, you’ve wasted three hours on articles and youtube videos. And you’re not any closer to having a store.
You hoped for one definitive piece to sway your decision and get you moving towards your dreams. But you only feel more lost and stuck with indecision.
Picking an eCommerce Platform is Tough
No joke, choosing from the available options can be daunting.
There are many, and each one has people saying it’s the way to go. No matter how many lists you compare, it seems like the “best one” changes from day to day.
You compare features, finding some of what you want here, some of what you want there. And you’re new to this, so it’s hard to know what you really want, anyway.
What is going to give you the most freedom? Which will be the easiest to grow, least complicated, and least expensive? Which one is best for you?
Making a Choice (even the “wrong” one) is Better Than Letting This Slow You Down
Each platform has features that make it better or worse for you. These often overlap in each direction, making it hard to decide.
You cannot let this stop you. Indecision kills progress. It stifles growth and obliterates dreams.
Choosing a platform, any platform, is better than waiting until one seems perfect for you. Platforms rarely fit anyone perfectly, so that may never happen.
You’d be stuck waiting forever, not moving forward.
When starting out, these days, you have one big challenge - You have to decide whether to have your own site or to list on a marketplace, like Amazon.
Each choice has its merits. And, people make riches on both sides of the coin.
This compounds the issue, as marketers bombard you with success stories from each.
And here you are, trying to get started.
Reasons to Choose Your Own Site Over Amazon
Marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and Ebay have their allures. But, creating your own site will give you the freedom you desire.
You can build the store of your dreams. You can do it all without some corporation or boss trapping you. If you're trying to get out of that situation, don't trade it for something similar.
Let’s explore the main reasons to build your own store, over an amazon store.
1. When You Choose Your Own Site, You Choose Yourself
You want the independence of starting your own successful store. You do not want someone else's whims controlling you.
With your own site, you control most things. With Amazon, you have very little control. Even worse, Amazon can end your business with one misguided click of a button.
- They make the rules, and they decide if you've broken them.
- They can and do suspend accounts without warning, freezing funds and locking you out
- Other sellers use these rules and snap judgements against their rivals. They frame them and get them shut down overnight.
- Amazon can change these rules without warning. They can enforce them on you without you knowing you were in violation of a new rule.
- When they suspend you, you're in for a rude awakening. It is like finding yourself in jail, for crimes they won't tell you about. And, your only way out is to confess your crimes, to a computer.
There are countless horror stories of sellers getting suspended for tiny things. For example, receiving a 5-star review noting that the shoes were a little tight.
With your own store, don't break the law, and you'll be fine. That's it. If you aren't doing anything illegal, you won't have those problems.
You also control important things like:
- Customer communication (so crucial)
- What goes on each page (and NOT ads from other sellers)
- User experience - both before and after the sale
- What you sell, and what you say about it.
- You can moderate reviews. Remove spam and fake reviews from competitors and other non-customers.
- Design of every page
You can build the store of your dreams. You can do it all without some corporation or boss trapping you. If you're trying to get out of that situation, don't trade it for something similar (Amazon).
2. Keep More Money With Each Sale
Fees on your own site vs Amazon
With your own store, you shouldn't ever pay over 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. That's the industry standard credit card processing fee. That means for a $100 sale, you'll get $97.
Amazon's marketplace charges transactional fees that far outweigh this. And, they aren't completely transparent about those fees.
- They charge between 6-20% for the referral fee on every sale (you don't know your fee unless you calculate it for each sale).
- Variable Closing Fee: This is supposedly for media categories only, but I frequently pay it on most of my items, none of which are in the categories they list: Books, DVD, Music, Software & Computer/Video Games, Video, Video Game Consoles
Recently they announced they'll charge taxes on those fees, as well. They can and do announce fee changes at the drop of a hat, and you are at their mercy.
3. Make it Harder For Ripoff Trolls to Steal Your Sales
Ripoff sellers have a significant presence on the Amazon marketplace. They use many tactics to pit Amazon's rules against their honest competitors. Usually they are successful and defeat them.
Many of them don't consider themselves thieves. They reproduce your product, put their logo on it, and sell it for less than you can.
Amazon itself, under its "Basics" program, makes their own knockoffs of successful products. They've allegedly copycatted thousands of products since 2015, like this laptop stand
If you have a successful product, you may have to fight off the copycats. These days it can happen as soon as a few months or even weeks. Many of them are sharp and well funded enough to outpace you before you can even get off the ground.
Having products on your own store, not Amazon, makes it harder for them to find the ripoff opportunity. You can gain momentum before exposing yourself to the marketplace.
4. Get Reliable Customer Service When You Need it For Any Reason
Customer service with Amazon
You will rarely get to speak to a human. If you do speak to one, they will only be able to use canned responses that don't help you much.
They have a seller's forum, where sellers sometimes help each other. But, because of Amazon's secrecy, it can be hard to find anything approaching a solution.
Amazon's general approach to seller support is hands-off. As if to say, "Not our problem, we don’t have to help you." Even if they caused the problem.
Customer service on other platforms:
You usually find reliable email support, a knowledgebase, and 24/7 phone or chat support. They'll help you, regardless of what you need help with.
Other platforms (Shopify especially) have helpful phone/chat agents. You don't always immediately get the person who knows how to fix your issue. But, if they can't solve your problem, they'll work to try to get you the best answer.
They know that without you, they don't exist. They want to make money from you, but they also want you to stay in business and be happy. The difference is palpable.
When your sales are at stake, you will be grateful for that support.
5. Create a More Personal Buying Experience, How You Want it
"Who doesn’t love buying on Amazon? How could it be better?"
The truth is: Most people who love Amazon, love the convenience of shopping on Amazon. They can find almost anything and get it in a couple days using Prime.
Beyond that, most don’t love the whole experience.
Lots of people shop with reluctance on Amazon.
People get burned by low-quality products with poor instructions. They often have to wade through 100 sellers offering the same cheap trinket.
They have to rely on reviews and Q&A to judge quality, and the reviews are often fake. Then they get it and can't figure out how to use it because the instructions are in Mandarin.
If they try to return it, they often get no response from the seller. They end up having to keep the useless item.
These are things people tolerate, for speed and convenience. Many of them would rather shop a small business, if the experience is as good or better.
With your own store, you can fix these issues to create a much better customer experience. And, you can go above and beyond to create raving fans who tell their friends about you.
You can create a pre-buy experience that removes all doubt, better than any Amazon listing can. You can provide videos, tutorials, customer features, and one-on-one support. You can provide social proof that makes buyers more eager to buy.
Post-sale, you can shine through your communication with your customer. You control the emails and the text messages.
You can even go the extra mile with a handwritten note offering them a loyalty reward.
As for speed, you can ship everything by Priority Mail and get it there within 1-3 days. In my experience it's usually 1-2 days.
6. You’re Not Stuck, And if You Decide You want to Add Amazon Later, You Can
If your primary business is on Amazon, you’re mostly stuck with Amazon. Years ago, many Amazon sellers learned this the hard way.
They saw the disadvantages of building their success on Amazon.
Many of them began trying to bring people off Amazon into new stores they were creating. They had difficulty, but they could siphon off a few people here and there.
Customers had grown accustomed to buying those products on Amazon. And, at those unsustainable Amazon prices.
Then, Amazon noticed. They started making it even harder to promote your own site to your Amazon customers. The message was clear: These are Amazon’s customers, not yours.
Your Own Site Gives You More Options
If you’re selling through your own site, you’re always free to add Amazon as a new sales channel. In fact, Shopify even integrates with Amazon. With a few clicks, you can list your products on Amazon from Shopify.
You'll be more able to do this, after you have an established business. To protect yourself on Amazon, solid trademark registrations are essential. It doesn't stop bad actors, but you can't fight bad actors without it.
Trademarks cost money you might not have when starting out.
7. Pricing Your Items Well, Not How The Marketplace Dictates
With your own store, you control the pricing. You charge what you believe an item is worth to the buyer. You make the buying experience incredible so they are happy to pay your price. They trust they're getting their money's worth.
In that way, I sold a product consistently for $119, when competing products sold for $45 on Amazon.
Which brings me to Amazon pricing...
The pricing games sellers play on Amazon are mind-boggling. Lots of sellers change prices many times a day. Others use automation software to change prices by the minute.
They try to become the lowest price for that item or category, to get the coveted "Buy Box". The person with the Buy Box usually gets the sale.
Wouldn't you rather just pick a good price for your product and focus on selling it?
The Lazy Entrepreneur’s Way to Selling Online Through Their Own Store.
Starting a store takes less time, money, and expertise than ever before. You can create a well-built store without being technical.
You can make a store that sells, without being a marketing pro.
Anyone can create a beautiful store, without being a designer.
Beginners can choose a platform and build a site in a day using a platform like Shopify.
Having your own store aligns with what you're trying to do - create freedom for yourself. Big-Brother Amazon doesn't offer the same independence.
They offer unclear rules & enforcement, fees, and IP theft. They bring you captive customers, and little support.
Now that you know, you can start your own online store today. If you’ve read my guide 8 Steps to Earn Money Selling Stuff Online and completed the first 6 steps, you can have a beautiful, functioning store in a day or less.
Shopify is a great choice for most beginners, read here to see if it’s right for you.