Amazon receives over 214 million unique visitors every month. That’s more than the entire population of Brazil.

This huge customer base makes it an attractive choice for online sellers. But is it the right choice for everyone? Could you run a more profitable business by building your own website using an e-commerce platform?

If you’re mulling over the “selling on amazon vs. building your own website” questions, this guide will explain:

  • The pros and cons of selling on Amazon and the tools and tips you’ll need
  • The pros and cons of building your own e-commerce website and the tools and tips you’ll need
  • How to decide between your own website or selling online with Amazon’s e-commerce platform
  • Why selling on your own website is better than selling on Amazon

Selling on Amazon

Before you commit to the platform, you’ll need to know exactly how to sell on Amazon — and that includes exploring both the pros and cons of selling via the platform.

Pros of Selling on Amazon

  1. You’ll see massive amounts of traffic (remember, Amazon receives over 214 million unique customers every month!).
  2. Amazon has incredible brand recognition, high levels of customer loyalty, and customers trust Amazon more than websites they’ve never heard of before. 
  3. You don’t need to build a business website since you sell directly through Amazon’s e-commerce platform. 
  4. Selling with Amazon is highly scalable, and the platform can easily manage spikes in traffic, demand, and changes to inventory levels.
  5. Amazon manages the payment process and offers a high level of protection against fraud protection.

Cons of Selling on Amazon

  1. Selling on Amazon means you’ll have a huge amount of competition, and price can be one of your only differentiators until you’ve built up enough (positive!) product reviews.
  2. Amazon’s rules bind you. They have full control over your listings and can remove content, product descriptions, listings, and entire product catalogs if they flag something that falls outside of their rules.
  3. You’re subject to fees that can eat away at your profit margin if you don’t fully understand the terms and conditions when you sell on any marketplace. 
  4. In a bid to prevent false reviews, Amazon can limit the type of product reviews you get per day or week, which means that your organic customer reviews won’t get the visibility you desire.

Tools Needed To Sell on Amazon

Think your products and the Amazon platform is all you’ll need to turn a profit? Think again. Below are just a handful of the tools you’ll need to sell on Amazon.

Amazon Product Research Tools

Amazon is saturated with the same products. Amazon product hunting tools help you identify the right products for your own business.

Tools like ProfitGuru and JungleScout provide data on the performance of competing Amazon products and help pinpoint product categories where there is less competition.

Finding Profitable Products
ProfitGuru helps sellers find profitable products.
Source: ProfitGuru.com

Dropshipping Suppliers

If you’ve decided to use dropshipping to make money on Amazon, you’ll need to find the best supplier for you and your products. Popular dropshipping inventories to find the right supplier include Inventory Source, WorldWide Brands, and Doba.

Listing Optimization Tools

Keyword research tools like MerchantWords are explicitly designed for Amazon to help sellers analyze shopping trends and help sellers optimize their product listings for maximum visibility.

SEO Tools
MerchantWords helps sellers improve the SEO of their Amazon listings.
Source: MerchantWords.com

4 Tips For Selling on Amazon

There’s no right or wrong way to sell on Amazon, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Decide on your pricing strategy early. Be competitive, but make sure you can turn a profit, too.
  • Be as detailed as possible when crafting your product descriptions; customers are more likely to buy a product when they know what they’re getting.
  • Determine and solidify your fulfillment strategy before you launch.
  • Follow Amazon’s selling rules closely to ensure your listings don’t get taken down.

Building Your Own E-Commerce Site

Building your own e-commerce site from scratch is completely doable, but it requires a lot of planning and know-how to make it worth your efforts and resources.

Pros of Building Your Own E-Commerce Site

  1. You’re not subject to any other marketplace’s rules, which means you have a definitive say over the site’s content, design, and product descriptions.
  2. Your potential customers won’t be distracted by a “similar products” section or sponsored product placements that can ultimately tempt them away from your product, à la Amazon. 
  3. Building your own website allows you to build your own brand the way you want to, present your products in your way, and create a name for yourself, rather than Amazon.
  4. Customer loyalty and brand presence tend to be higher when customers buy a great product from a standalone website, and they’ll also be able to refer others to your store by name rather than a generic marketplace. 
  5. Since you’ll have direct access to customer information, you can engage in targeted customer marketing and relationship-building activities — something you can’t do on Amazon.

Cons of Building Your Own E-Commerce Site

  1. You’ll have less customer reach when you build a site from scratch, especially if you don’t have the resources to sell internationally.
  2. It’ll take a while to build credibility and trust around your online store. 
  3. You’re directly responsible for the customer support function when customers have issues or complaints, which can eat up a lot of time and resources.
  4. If your website goes down for any reason, it’s on you to fix it. You’re also responsible for technical issues that arise. You’ll also miss out on potential sales while fixing them. 
  5. Running a successful online store often requires hiring team members to support it. Training and paying them also eat into your time and resources.

Tools Needed to Build Your Own E-Commerce Site

Building and selling on your own website require multiple tools. Below are just a few of the essential tools you’ll need.

E-Commerce Platform

E-commerce website builders, or e-commerce platforms, are tools that help you build your online store from scratch. These platforms provide the essential elements you’ll need to build your store from website templates, SSL certifications, domain hosting, and shopping cart tools.

Shopify Themes
Shopify provides ready-made website themes for sellers to choose from.
Source: Shopify.com

Payment Processor

One of the most important tools you’ll need is a payment processor that facilitates payments and helps you stay PCI-compliant. Every payment processor has its own payment terms, setup fees, monthly fees, and transaction fees to consider, too.

SEO Tools

SEO tools are essential for building an e-commerce website’s presence and customer base. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs help your site rank well on Google and outrank competitors by helping you build an SEO strategy that works for your products and business plan.

Optimizing SEO
Ahrefs optimizes your site for SEO and analyzes your competitors.
Source: Ahrefs.com

4 Tips For Selling on Your Own E-Commerce Site

Again, there is no standard handbook for building and selling via your own website, but here are a few tips for any newcomer:

  • Conduct thorough market analysis of the product space, industry, competitors, and buyer personas before you launch,
  • Create a solid marketing plan that accounts for all selling channels, social media platforms, email marketing, and content marketing
  • If you’re selling your own products, hire a great product photographer to help your products shine.
  • Enable customer reviews and other user-generated content to help your site build credibility, trust, and brand recognition.

How to Decide Between Your Own Website or Selling Online with Amazon’s E-Commerce Platform

There are many factors to consider when choosing between selling on Amazon or going it alone. For example, do you want to create a brand and scale it? Then building your own site is likely more suitable.

However, if you’ve identified a gap in the market that you want to capitalize on, and are less concerned about brand building, Amazon might be your best bet. The answers to questions like these will ultimately help you decide.

You can also sell on both platforms to capture a larger share of the market (but be wary of the extra money you’ll spend on sustaining both avenues). Similarly, you could start out on Amazon and gradually shift to a website of your own once you’ve cornered a part of the market.

Why Selling on Your Own Website is Better than Selling on Amazon

However, ultimately, selling on your own website gives you full control over your products, business strategies, and ability to scale. Plus, who knows what Amazon will look like in five years?

Will there be a bigger e-commerce marketplace disruptor? Will Amazon enforce stricter rules on selling? Will Amazon require large upfront fees to be able to use the platform for selling? Who knows what the future has in store for Amazon, but by building your own website, you’re able to control your own future.

Amazon vs. Your Own Website: The Choice is Yours

With the help of this guide, you have some food for thought to help you make the right choice. Ultimately, the final decision is yours.

If you do decide to take the e-commerce platform route, here’s an extra resource for you: Our experts have spent 40+ hours reviewing over 60 of the best e-commerce platforms to help you decide which one is right for you!

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