Many of the small businesses on the Amazon Marketplace are owned by would-be online entrepreneurs who attempted to sell products through their own websites but never received any traffic. Faced with the prospect of closing permanently, those business owners eventually relented and put their products on Amazon.
For many Amazon Marketplace sellers, though, selling products on Amazon ends up being a trap that stifles their prospects for future growth. After paying all of the fees associated with selling on Amazon, many sellers find that they only end up pocketing about half of the revenue that their sales generate. That’s no way to run a successful business; you’ll never earn enough money to get off of the Amazon treadmill.
If you want to earn the most money possible from selling products online – and if you want to sell those products without being forced to conform to the ever-changing standards of a marketplace you don’t own – you need to establish your own online business and sell from your own website. That, however, is more easily said than done because Amazon is the first result on Google for just about every product-related search you can imagine.
So, how can a small online business compete with Amazon instead of joining it? To do that, you’ll need to use a bit of creativity. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
Sell Products That Amazon Doesn’t Offer
One of the best ways to compete with Amazon is by operating in a space that they ignore. If you sell a type of product that isn’t offered on Amazon, you won’t have to worry about products on Amazon ranking higher than your products in web searches. For example, although Amazon carries just about everything under the sun, the company doesn’t offer vaping products of any kind. That has enabled vaporizer makers like Rokin Vapes to operate without fear that Amazon will outrank them and steal business that could have been theirs.
There are quite a few types of products that aren’t allowed on Amazon. If you sell any of those products, you won’t have to worry about Amazon competing with you. Here are a few examples of products Amazon doesn’t sell.
- Airsoft, BB and paintball guns
- Adult novelties
- CBD and other cannabis-related products
- Tattoo products
- UV-based self-tanning products
Establish a Distinct Brand Identity
Have you ever noticed that many of the world’s most fashionable brands have almost no presence at all on Amazon? That’s by design. People don’t expect to find products from high-end brands on Amazon – and when people do find those products, they’re nervous about buying them because they expect them to be fake. If people can’t find most of your products on Amazon – or if they have concerns about product authenticity – they’re going to buy those products directly from your website instead of going elsewhere.
The best way to ensure that people will buy products from your website instead of Amazon is by selling products that aren’t available elsewhere and by establishing a recognized brand identity that’s completely distinct. There’s a reason why so many of the “brands” that are sold on Amazon are comprised of nothing but random combinations of letters – it’s because many people don’t care at all about the brand name of a spatula or an ice cream scoop as long as the product is good enough and the price is right.
In other fields, though – fashion, for instance – it’s an entirely different story. In those fields, there will always be people who crave uniqueness and are willing to pay for it. If your company sells something that’s unique and isn’t available from any other seller, establishing a recognized brand identity should be your top goal. Word-of-mouth marketing – perhaps with the help of prominent social media influencers – can greatly help you in this area.
Sell on Amazon but Encourage Buyers to Visit Your Site
Although many sellers would prefer to sell products from their own websites rather than on the Amazon Marketplace, some ultimately resort to selling on Amazon – at least temporarily – because that’s the only way to reach Amazon’s enormous customer base. Selling on the Amazon Marketplace allows you to generate enough revenue to keep your operation going while you work to build your own online presence. There are ways, however, to sell on Amazon and build your own identity simultaneously.
If the products you offer are ones that people will want to buy repeatedly, you should look for ways to offer your products on Amazon while gently encouraging people to buy directly from your website in the future. Here are a few examples of what you can do.
- When you ship a product purchased on the Amazon Marketplace, you can include a coupon that enables the buyer to receive a discount when purchasing that product from your website.
- You can include free gifts with purchases made from your website and let people know that they’re missing out on those gifts when they don’t buy from you.
- You can establish a customer loyalty program on your website that allows people to earn discounts and gifts through repeated purchases. When you ship products purchased on the Amazon Marketplace, include a note letting customers know about the benefits that they’re missing out on when they don’t buy from you.
- If you’re nervous about using more overt methods of encouraging Amazon customers to buy directly from you, encourage people to visit your website in a gentler way by putting your URL on every product that you sell.
Regardless of how you choose to use Amazon as a means of attracting customers to your website, a key point to remember is that offering free shipping on all purchases – if you have the ability to do so – is one of the best ways for any small online business to compete with Amazon. One of the reasons why so many people shop on Amazon is because they’re Amazon Prime members and can buy whatever they like without worrying about shipping costs. The need to pay for shipping is a point of friction that often discourages people from shopping elsewhere. If you can eliminate that source of friction, you’ll have a much easier time convincing people to buy from you.