Last year 42% of purchases were made online and the trend is expected to increase year on year. If you’re not geared up for online sales yet, based on this statistic alone you need to be asking yourself why. Shoppers enjoy the freedom and convenience that online shopping offers. Gone are the days when they needed to think about getting changed out of pyjamas to go out, or wait while the weather improved, instead everything can be achieved from the comfort of their home or if preferred, while on the bus on the way home or during a lunch break at work. Christmas is the largest buying holiday of the year and the opportunity for retailers is huge, more so if you have an online retail platform. We take a brief look at the packages on offer from Internet giants eBay, Amazon and Rakuten.
Ranked seventh-most popular site in the UK by web analytics firm Alexa.
eBay encourage online sellers to open up a store with them as the evidence shows that this can create an average of 25% increase in sales within the first three months. The site also rewards store owners with lower fees and special offers/subscriptions to some of its services.
Having an eBay store gives you access to added benefits such as:
Business Resource Centre – Where amongst other things you can download templates for professional looking business cards.
Save time – Longer listing period and options to automatically relist
Unique URL – A link to your store that can be used to promote products outside of eBay and that can be referenced by search engines. Your store also has its own search engine, making it easier for customers to find exactly what they are looking for.
Personalisation – Your store can be customised to a preferred look and feel
Reporting – A free monthly online sales breakdown. Added paid for options include opportunity to benchmark against other sellers and easy accounting functionality.
Ranked fifth-most popular site in the UK by Alexa
Amazon has more traffic than eBay or Play. Visitors to the site are usually long standing customers who value the retailer’s level of customer service and speed of delivery. In the main, browsers are already in buying mode and are more likely to end the session with a purchase.
Retail on Amazon can be completed with a few simple steps:
- Upload products
- Inventory available to Amazon’s millions of customers
- Amazon brand and shopping basket tools such as 1-click encourage customers to buy
- Amazon notifies retailer of purchase and delivery instructions. Alternatively businesses can choose to have the order fulfilled by Amazon using their ‘Fulfilment by Amazon’ service.
- Money paid into retailer’s account of choice.
Amazon’s selling point is its reputation and the opportunity to sell across 5 European marketplaces. Furthermore there are no product listing fees and there is the option to promote your products through keyword-targeted ads with Amazon Sponsored Products.
If you are looking to build long-term relationships with your customers, Amazon may not be the online retail channel for you. There are no easy ways to promote your own web store/other trading methods, and your customers will see their relationship as being with Amazon.
Ranked 90th-most popular site in the UK by Alexa
Through its Marketplace, Rakuten hopes to empower merchants to build and grow their business with access to an established customer base of 15 million customers. The site’s unique selling point is the option for you to have your very own E-commerce consultant. The consultants work with merchants to help them achieve maximum online sales by making recommendations on areas such as promotions and target audience.
Like the other platforms, Rakuten has its own toolbox of features to enhance merchant’s experience including:
Superpoints –A scheme that rewards customer loyalty and allows sellers to run promotional campaigns themselves, rewarding customers who frequently purchase from them with more loyalty points.
Rakuten Mail – Customers who shop with retailers on Rakuten Play can opt in for updates and special offers. This essentially allows sellers to have direct contact with their customers.
Personalised Shop Front – Despite being a marketplace, Rakuten allows merchants to customize their online stores to make them stand out and become recognizable.
The most important thing to remember, is that spreading your load between these three platforms is often a good idea, if you can afford it, for a time, before choosing which one suits your products best.