How to Determine the Best E-Commerce Platform for Your Company
Everything You'll Need to Know About Selling on Amazon and Wordpress, and How a
Multi-Channel E-commerce Approach May be Able to
Skyrocket Your Sales.
You Need to Sell More Products in More Places...
And that means expanding online. Perhaps you’re an established brand looking to grow, or maybe you’re an entrepreneur trying to find your niche. Either way, leveraging Amazon, Wordpress, or both as primary selling platforms can take your product sales into new and exciting areas of revenue if done properly.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the foundational elements of pursuing either of these options. You may decide that you’ve got the time and energy to DIY, or you may decide that you need to hire professionals to manage your e-commerce for you. If the case is the latter, we’d love to talk strategy.
Let's Start With Amazon
Selling on Amazon is the definitively best way to sell online, offering huge advantages in the e-commerce game. While convenience, democratization and competition are all among those advantages, as are exposure and the ability to market, the biggest advantage that selling on Amazon offers is...
When you sell on Amazon, you don’t have to work as hard to gain the trust of the buyer as you would selling any other way. Amazon’s name is backing your sale, and customers know that if you don’t take care of issues when they pop up, Amazon will. Buyers also know that Amazon ships quickly and securely, and as a whole Amazon buyers have far fewer issues with deliveries than buyers on other platforms.
Buyers trust Amazon and therefor trust you, the seller, by proxy. This is why Amazon sellers, and Amazon itself, are smoking the competition and selling far more products for far more revenue than most of the runner-up platforms combined.
The Most Powerful Selling Platform Ever: An Overview
Amazon selling seems simple enough: open an account, create a listing, start selling, right? Unfortunately, this is how the majority of Amazon sellers go about it, and more than 98% of them don’t so much as break even. Why? Because, for as simple as it is to use, Amazon selling is super complex and exceptionally nuanced. Getting a product or two up isn’t the issue…the issue is getting that product on page 1, instead of page 401, in your product category.
You’ve searched for products on Amazon before, and you’ve probably seen that, for any given product search, there are sometimes hundreds and hundreds of pages of similar products. Competition is stiff, and thousands of sellers are trying to push similar goods to the same people.
Understand that products that aren’t on the first page of Amazon for a given search don’t get purchased often, whereas the products in the top 10 fly off the shelves. Those top 10 sellers didn’t get there by accident. They utilized loads of 3rd party software and tertiary Amazon services to gain the advantage over the competition. Furthermore, they took the time to understand how Amazon’s algorithms rank listings and adjusted their listing accordingly.
What You'll Need
Much like SEO, Amazon ranks products organically based on a long and strict set of metrics over time. There are ways of optimizing your product listings to be in alignment with those metrics, and if this isn’t done thoroughly your products will be stuck on pages that no one will ever see.
More than just listing optimization, Amazon sellers must utilize Amazon’s PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising tool in order to accelerate ranking and beat the competition...when you scratch Amazon's back, they'll scratch yours. Unfortunately, too few people understand the practical implications of this process and end up spending more on PPC than they actually make in revenue.
In order to know exactly how to manage an Amazon storefront, how to optimize a listing, and how to use PPC to your advantage, you’ll have to pay for and learn how to use several softwares made to do these specific things. In fact, without using these softwares, your ability to turn a profit on Amazon will be non-existent. Not because you’re not smart or good at what you do, but because the algorithms are complex and involved to the point that no one could successfully form a winning listing on their own, and no one has the time or energy to successfully micro-manage the listing on a day to day basis. It really is that involved; unfortunately, sellers attempt to cut these corners every day and, as a result, end up overwhelmed, over-spent and under-funded.
Understanding the right softwares is paramount to success on Amazon. While the point of this article isn’t to get into the details of what they are specifically, I will go ahead and say that they’re necessary for the following things: researching keywords, markets, competitors and product revenue potentials, gathering reviews, email correspondence with customers, avoiding or removing poor reviews, managing PPC campaigns, and a few more smaller tasks that need to be done.
Furthermore, if you don’t already have it, you’ll need to develop branding, a branded storefront, dedicated email and bank accounts, and legal. It’s a lot, and heading into it ill-prepared is dangerous and costly.
Another thing to know is what can and can’t be sold on Amazon. Not all products are allowed on Amazon, and some products can only be sold by certain seller types (more on this later). Even if your product can be sold without restriction on Amazon, it doesn’t necessarily mean it should. There’s yet MORE software to tell you about the niche market of your products, and help you determine if you’d actually be able to make a profit.
This Seems Too Intense...
If it’s so complex, why even try? Because successful sellers on Amazon make serious bank, and if you know what you’re doing (or hire a firm like Drone Digital), you’ll see quick returns at exponentially faster rates than you'll see anywhere else. It’s not unreasonable (but also, not guaranteed) to see a simple product that costs less than $100 sell in the 5, 6 or even 7-figure range on a monthly basis! That’s serious potential. Top sellers in just about every category are making tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars...and sometimes millions...in sales on single, simple products every month.
A Few Examples
In order to show you the actual potential of Amazon sales, we've listed a few top sellers below. Many details are blurred due to privacy and legal protections (as well as proprietary software agreements); however, this ought to materialize the very real possibility that your product could be among gargantuan sellers like these with the right know-how and leverage.
Padded Floor Mat
This anti-fatigue floor mat grossed over $1M in a 30-day span, and boasts over 8500 positive reviews!
This hand-cranked coffee grinder produced nearly $400k in 30 days, and garnered almost 10k reviews!
With only 133 reviews (as a relatively new seller), this 2-pack of generic water guns brought in almost half-a-mil in 30 days!
What the product actually is is far less important than how the listing is actually handled. With Drone Digital running your Amazon store, these numbers become both attainable and far more likely!
A Word of Warning...
Before you get too excited, there are some caveats. As mentioned before, using Amazon costs money. No matter the seller type (read below), it’s going to be an upfront investment just to get products listed, and money will be spent physically getting those products to your customers. More money will be spent on the necessary softwares needed, and yet more spent on PPC advertising. With so many expenditures, you’ve got to make sure the margins are there. We recommend 180-200% ROI after the basic costs are calculated (sourcing the product, shipping the product, and Amazon listing and logistics fees). It’s not always easy calculating these costs, especially since Amazon isn’t at all upfront about what it’s actually going to cost you to sell with them. Luckily, there’s software for that too.
Seller Type 1: FBA
There are 2 Primary seller types: FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) and FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant). We recommend selling FBA if possible, because it gives the best long-term ROI, all things considered. With FBA, your products get shipped in bulk to Amazons warehouses, and they fulfill the orders when they come in.
While selling FBA means paying higher fees to Amazon, it can often be more affordable than shipping on your own; furthermore, selling FBA has certain advantages that seriously boost sales, such as automatic Amazon Prime qualification.
Seller Type 2: FBM
Not all products are FBA eligible and, in that case, a seller has to sell FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and if you’ve got a warehouse or are fulfilling orders yourself through some other selling process, it can actually be to your advantage.
FBM sellers can still qualify for Amazon Prime as long as their account is a “Professional” account, which also comes with a variety of added selling benefits exclusive to it (such as videos in listings, graphics in descriptions, and added security against hi-jackers and copyright infringers).
B2B: A 2nd Revenue Stream
Amazon offers B2B selling, wherein a seller can offer bulk discounts to businesses who want to order a lot of what is being sold.
In this, margins are obviously not as high, but volume goes way up, which may allow the seller to source the product for less to reclaim the margins lost in the bulk sale.
If traffic becomes heavy in this arena, a seller can easily scale volume to insane new heights while simultaneously establishing their brand as a "name brand" in retail stores everywhere.
Aside from seller types and softwares, there are more considerations to make when selling on Amazon. One huge one is media development. Amazon has strict requirements for photos, videos and graphics on their platform, so you’ll need professional media that follows the guidelines. Listings with high-quality images, videos and graphic descriptions sell far higher than those without, and all that media has to have optimized metadata in order to rank near the top.
Reviews: The Most Important part of Any Listing
Reviews (aka star ratings) determine competition level, relay trustworthiness, and speak to the perceived quality of any item. If you want to sell your product on Amazon, but you see that similar products are already listed with 3k or 4k reviews, you might want to think twice before going for it. Customers will see your product with zero reviews, and your competitor's product with thousands of positive reviews, and they’ll make the rational choice.
Finding a niche with an average of 75 reviews per product (among the top 10) or less is what we recommend. However, niches don’t always or necessarily refer to specific products; more-so to how the product gets searched for. There are a variety of ways to search for any given product, and you may be able to rank for a set of search results (keywords) in a relevant category with less competition if you do the right research.
But you’ll still have to get an initial set of reviews to garner sales, and you need sales to garner reviews…so how the hell do you get a product off the ground?! There’s a few methods to getting initial reviews (some more “terms-of-service” friendly than others), and an aggressive seller will use all of them to move the needle on their listing as quickly as possible. We won’t go into detail about then now, except to say that they’ll all incur another set of small expenses.
CRITICAL: Without a lot of good reviews, your products may not be able to hit those sky-high numbers. Drone Digital knows how to get initial and perpetual 4 & 5-star reviews for maximum seller potential.
Amazon: The Takeaway
We don’t mean to scare you away from the idea of selling on Amazon; it’s an amazing platform that offers more leverage in the e-commerce world than any other. But, we do want you to have a firm grasp on the time, money, energy and effort that you’ll need to spend to learn it and make it successful, as well as the risks involved.
If you really want to DIY it, there’s plenty of courses offered online (be sure to vet them thoroughly) that can show you the ropes. We recommend Nine University, as they not only offer the most comprehensive Amazon training available anywhere, but their programs come with a host of features that give their sellers huge advantages over any other sellers. They’re also an active community and consultation service, offering direct access to the moderators, admins and proprietary selling tools at all times.
But, if you’re busy running a company and don’t necessarily have the 7+ weeks it’ll take you to complete a course like that, the months it’ll take to master the software you need, and the perpetual daily time it takes to actually build and run the store, talk to us here at Drone Digital. We’ll do the heavy lifting for you and get your Amazon products selling on autopilot!
Wordpress: Your World, Your Rules
Wordpress is a highly versatile platform used by brands and companies in every niche and industry. In fact, nearly 40% of all websites are built with it. With a seemingly endless selection of functional plugins and functions, a skilled web developer can create a beautiful, effective website made to perform whatever functions are needed.
Wordpress e-commerce sites allow sellers to...
Wordpress e-commerce sites allow sellers to sell what and how they see fit, and to fulfill orders in whichever way they need. It allows the seller to focus on brand development and awareness, and to build real loyalty and trust between them and their customer base. Using Wordpress for sales can open up other areas of marketing strategy that a site like Amazon doesn’t offer, like content development, social media integration, cross-continental sales and more.
Simply put, if you want absolute and full control of how and what you sell online, Wordpress is the way to go. Other reasons to use Wordpress for selling include your ability to garner organic sales through SEO and lead generation methods, to drive ads and sales funnels through your own URL, and to maintain brand continuity across web and social channels.
Sounds fun, right? It can be, but it’s also a lot of work (just like everything else) in order to really make it successful, and using psychology to build trust and loyalty is going to be paramount in building your independent e-comm empire.
Selling on Wordpress: A Detailed Description
Using wordpress is not as straight forward as selling on Amazon, and requires tons of design, development, implementation and marketing to be successful. Wordpress e-commerce sites can often take months to develop, and even longer to start generating sales. Because you’re not leveraging the trust offered by a company like Amazon, it’s going to be on you to build trust with your market, and to persuade individuals in every step of the buying process that your products are worth their money.
This can, and should, be done using a variety of methods that include organic social content, paid advertising, sales funnels, free content (and a lot of it), email marketing, multi-media development and more. In fact, the methods that you decide to leverage will be largely determined by the type of company you are and the goals that you have. Assuming you can do this effectively, your site will generate more new and repeat buyers month over month and will become a favorite online hub for your clientele.
What You'll Need
You’ll need to pay a web design firm to build your e-comm site (or modify your existing site) and to build and maintain your store page. You'll need a communications developer to generate content and manage e-mail and social channels. You’ll want a media designer for visual media development, as well as a series of automated assets to quickly interact with interested people online. All of this is just in the development and maintenance phases of running your e-commerce site.
Assuming you’ve got all of these assets built, now you’ll have to market online. You’ll leverage a variety of research softwares to find concentrations of your target audience, and utilize advertising methods and platforms to reach them. Simultaneously, you’ll need to optimize your site, as well as a plethora of other platforms and listing tools, to build organic results via SEO. You’ll need to be generating content and getting it in front of people, and focussing on value that exceeds the cost of your products.
Without going into the depths of detail here, garnering sales on your own website is a process that requires full time, full service team members who can specialize in multiple things simultaneously. Since we’re assuming you’re not a big-box brand, your e-commerce foundation still has a lot of growing to do, and you need perpetual time and capital to make it happen.
None of this will happen immediately. While it can be well worth the time and money spent, your biggest asset when running an e-comm site will be patience. Developing digital assets takes time. SEO takes time. Advertising effectively takes time. And it’s all for the purpose of building brand awareness, trust, and the perception of authority in the minds of strangers, which takes more time.
All things considered, an independent e-commerce store, and the operations involved, should be seen as an investment and not an expenditure. You don’t do it simply because the world is digitally focussed and you think you have to; you do it because you see the immense value in expanding your brand’s reach onto the phones, tablets and computers of every possible buyer.
The Actual Cost of Sales and the Benefit of Outsourcing
Imagine you decide to hire all of this talent in-house. We’ll say you need 6 employees: one project manager, one web designer, one advertiser, one social media specialist, one content developer and one multi-media developer. What do you think their total salaries will cost you in a year? That answer is...
That answer is somewhere in the mid six-figure range, and we’re not even accounting for the cost of advertising, leveraging CRM platforms or utilizing specialty software meant to accelerate your results. Yikes!
Conversely, you could hire a firm like Drone Digital, who can orchestrate the entire thing from the ground up. Developing what we can, and contracting to our peers what we can’t, you can get the same services and efficacy in marketing at a fraction of the cost by outsourcing to us.
Not only that, but hiring a marketing firm means you’re hiring more people for less. Instead of 6 employees, you’re getting multiple teams of professionals crafting and sharing years of experience to build something amazing just for you.
Another amazing advantage of hiring out is experience. Suppose you did hire in-house and you positioned every person according to their skill and your need. Then what? Well, now you need a strategy. Maybe that project manager can formulate a plan, or maybe they’re skill set lies in executing an already-created plan (as is the case with most project managers). Do you hire a strategist? At a low six-figure price tag, a strategist may further eat into your margins.
When you hire a firm, you get experienced researchers and strategists who can discover the best way to market, map out the goal, objectives and steps needed to execute, and relay to project managers exactly how to make it happen.
Wordpress: The Takeaway
Selling on your own Wordpress store has MASSIVE advantages, but also has some pretty sizable up-front and long-term costs. Understanding that the goal of a “unique boutique” isn’t just making sales, but is building trust, loyalty and community around your brand and products is the first step in making it work.
If you’re already selling on your own site and want to increase awareness and sales, or you want to build your brand into something truly global, contact us today. We’ll create a strategy to get your e-commerce store firing on all cylinders!
Multi-Channel Fulfillment: A Powerful Dual Approach
If you want to get really aggressive with sales, leveraging Amazon and Wordpress simultaneously can lead to an absolute explosion in revenue. Thanks to specialized software, inventory and logistics processes can be unified across platforms, meaning you won’t have to manage 2 sets of inventory.
If you sell FBA on Amazon, we can set your wordpress site up to pull from that inventory and pass through your Amazon storefront. Or, if you’re fulfilling your orders yourself, we can set Amazon purchases to register through your web site. Either way, it’s a win-win in the logistics area.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to focus on quantity sales via Amazon, while building brand awareness and loyalty on Wordpress, allowing you to divide and conquer the e-commerce landscape.
E-commerce can be complex, involved, and hectic. It takes dedicated resources, persistence and tons of patience to make it successful. While the advantages far outweigh the risks, your ability to drive sales will depend on the expertise and abilities of those building and managing your assets. If you’re ready to have a high-powered, hands-off sales machine that seemingly sells on autopilot, contact us today! We’re ready to develop the perfect strategy for your online sales goals.
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