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There are tons of reasons you might want to diversify your ecommerce business after selling on Amazon. Strict regulations and red tape are a regular part of life for sellers. Not to mention, you wish you could set your inventory levels and fulfillment providers. Or even just have some peace of mind knowing your business will thrive or falter based on your hard work — not an algorithm determined by the online retail giant. No matter the reason, you aren’t alone: Selling on Amazon is no longer the sure thing that it used to be. Even major brands like Birkenstock and Nike have taken their products off the market. (These brands can still be found on Amazon, but only through third-party sellers.)
Then in early 2020, Ikea announced it would cancel a two-year-old collaboration with Amazon, deciding to not sell its products on the platform. The Swedish brand presents a strong example of why a business might want to diversify. Amazon’s fulfillment is not well suited to the bulky, heavy packaging necessary to ship furniture and accessories. Not only that, but the platform has developed a reputation for hosting illegal counterfeit products despite the regulations that legitimate sellers have endured. These products often undercut the pricing of genuine items, limiting margins and destroying carefully tended customer trust.
But, you don’t have to stop selling on Amazon entirely to diversify. The goal is to make the platform just one of your many ecommerce channels. Here are some helpful strategies to ensure a soft landing when you take the leap.
First things first: Make sure the customers who have been loyal to you on Amazon understand that diversifying is in their best interest. In truth, moving away from Amazon as your only ecommerce platform will help you connect with customers in a more meaningful way.
When selling on Amazon, customer data is held by the platform and cannot then be leveraged to improve your selling experience. Remarketing and retargeting become much more difficult without the data-driven insights that a platform like AdRoll can use to improve future conversion.
There’s also a chance your customers will actually have more access to your products away from Amazon. For example, products Amazon deemed nonessential were made unavailable during the early stages of the pandemic as the platform rushed to fulfill the needs of a scrambling populace. While that makes sense on Amazon’s end, a seller with an independent platform would not have been subject to those rules.
This isn’t a first either — Amazon often makes choices it believes are in its best interests, even if it negatively impacts the sellers on its platform. By being open and honest about this with your loyal fans, you can turn diversification into a value add for everyone involved.
Just because you are diversifying your business doesn’t mean you have to stop selling on Amazon. By maintaining both your Amazon seller account and your presence on other platforms, you’ll be able to collect the data you need to grow your Amazon business, too.
Collecting customer data and marketing on other platforms also has the added benefit of better informing your Amazon ad spend. With the assistance of products like AdRoll’s audience targeting features, you can identify your ideal customer and spend your ad dollars on the platform with greater efficiency.
One of the advantages that smaller brands receive for selling on Amazon is a streamlined ad service. Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) controls most of the back-end processes involved in ecommerce. Through its lightning deals and pay-per-click ad campaigns, Amazon’s marketing services can be a lifeline to new sellers — all a seller has to do is identify the SEO keywords they wish to target and provide a budget. Amazon’s ad service does the rest.
On the other hand, moving away from Amazon is all about taking your brand into your own hands — and that starts with how you market your products. You might even save money in the process as you discover what your customers want and which customers are worth the spend. You can also start your own A/B testing to determine which platforms provide the greatest marketing ROI.
If that platform turns out to be Amazon, great! Either way, you will have the agency to make that decision for yourself.
Competing with Amazon fulfillment services is no small feat — though it isn’t the unstoppable juggernaut it once was. There are plenty of reputable delivery distributors that can work for you and your customers. Negotiating the terms and conditions of these contracts can also yield better deals and long-term relationships.
You will likely need time to phase out your remaining inventory on Amazon, which won’t happen in a day. So work on building out your distribution capabilities in the meantime. It’s critical to keep your products in stock through Amazon, your new platforms, or your website.
A smooth transition that avoids unnecessary shipping delays or product shortages will go a long way to convincing your customers to move to another platform to find your product.
It’s not enough to move on from selling on Amazon — you have to find the right replacement platforms, too. This could mean opening an online store on Walmart.com to provide another outlet, should your Amazon store encounter difficulties. As long as Amazon is no longer your only option, you’ll be well on your way to ecommerce independence.
Here are some of the most popular Amazon alternatives:
Walmart’s journey from the king of in-store retail to playing second fiddle to Amazon’s ecommerce onslaught has been an interesting one to follow. Over the years, the company has managed to bolster its own online marketplace, making it a popular home for sellers looking to diversify away from Amazon.
It’s worth noting that Walmart is somewhat pickier when it comes to the sellers it will accept, and the application process can be long. The company will also compete directly with your products if you sell similar items. Still, Walmart doesn’t charge a fee for listings. Instead, it adds a referral fee of 6 to 20 percent for successful sales, depending on the category.
It’s never been easier to build your own website and construct an ecommerce store, especially with a platform like Squarespace. The company’s website building and hosting services give you all the tools you need to get your new online store up and running with hundreds of pre-built themes to choose from.
Squarespace boasts robust analytics and customer service along with more-than-serviceable page load times, giving your store a fighting chance in the global online marketplace. You can also make changes to your store through the company’s mobile app without needing to head to the office or boot up your laptop.
As a dedicated ecommerce platform, Shopify features a litany of integrations for custom websites, customer service applications, and dynamic online ads. Your team won’t have to worry about any software coding, either. Think of Shopify as a plug-and-play alternative for businesses selling on Amazon.
Plus, AdRoll’s integration with Shopify means you can also use the data gathered on the platform to better target high-value customers with ads and emails. With services like abandoned cart retargeting, a connected ad inventory between 500+ networks, including Facebook and Google, as well as an interface to track conversion and growth, you might ask yourself why you waited so long to diversify.
With marketing, sales, and logistics out of the way, it's about time to start thinking of your ecommerce business as its own brand. Now that you can connect with your customers and dive into their user data, you can use those insights to find out exactly what appeals to them.
Once that hard work is done, AdRoll’s brand awareness platform can help you connect with more of your best customers and focus your efforts toward high intent audiences. Access to Amazon alternatives such as these can make that leap of faith seem more like taking the next step to grow your business.
Originally published on May 25th, 2021, last updated on June 16th, 2022.