No question — selling via eBay, Etsy, and other e-commerce platforms is a great way to get a side-hustle up and running. But, how do you know when it’s the right time to start your own ecommerce website?
Here are three signs that you might be ready…
1. You have a brand, but it’s not getting the love it deserves
Brand is more than a look, logo, or colour palette. It’s an expression of who you are, what you do and WHY you do it.
If you’ve built a brand (not just a name and a logo, but a personality) and that brand is a big part of your product promise and experience–then it’s probably time to open your own ecommerce website.
When your product pages are surrounded by someone else’s brand (as is the case when you sell via eBay, Etsy, Amazon etc.)… your brand doesn’t get the love that it deserves.
Growing your brand on someone else’s property is like building your dream home on land you do not own.
That’s where white-label e-commerce platforms such as Shopify come in.
Instantly… you have a blank canvas.
If you want your logo to appear in the middle of the page (not that we’d recommend that) — it’s doable.
If you want to create a landing page detailing your position on climate change (as Patagonia have done below) — you can.
Shopify gives you full control over your brand and messaging.
By the way, Patagonia is also a great (and rare) example of an organisation that fully embodies their who, what and why.
To find out more, listen to this fantastic interview of Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard by Guy Raz in the highly recommended ‘How I Built This’ podcast.
When you own your domain, content, and platform, you’ve got a lot more control over how people experience your brand and products.
2. You’ve got raving fans…but no ecommerce website to send them to
If you’ve started building a fanbase for your brand–having your own ecommerce website will give you lots of opportunities to communicate and connect with your tribe.
So why build a tribe of raving fans you may ask?
In his 2008 essay (since updated and edited), Kevin Kelly argues that to be successful online you don’t need a huge fanbase — you just need 1000 true fans who are willing to buy your product or service.
To raise your sales out of the flatline of the long tail you need to connect with your True Fans directly. Another way to state this is, you need to convert a thousand Lesser Fans into a thousand True Fans.
So, how do you go about developing these fans?
One of the most effective ways is via educational and informative content–such as blog posts, podcasts, live streams and videos etc.
Patagonia is one of the best exponents of this type of marketing.
Rather than talking about themselves and blowing their own trumpets— they try to solve problems (such as Fair Trade, climate change and consumerism) via their products and the people who make and wear them.
It’s a super effective strategy which has helped them build 100,000’s of raving fans across the globe.
And the kicker — they spend very little on advertising.
“We have a mission to solve problems in the world,” said Joy Howard, VP-marketing at outwear and sports-equipment marketer Patagonia. “That’s very much a part of how we engage with consumers.” And that engagement puts a low priority on advertising. It’s the “dead last” thing Patagonia wants to do, said Ms. Howard.^
I know what you are probably thinking though — I don’t have the time or the resources to create beautifully shot videos like that!
That’s not a problem because it’s the content that matters most.
The beauty of this content is that it can be repurposed to appear in multiple locations.
For instance, a Facebook live stream can be embedded into a blog post with a transcription of the video or a summary as the content and a one-page pdf guide as the call to action (downloadable via opt-in to your list).
BOOM — more raving fans.
Now while it may be possible on some platforms — it’s definitely more difficult to host content (blog posts, podcasts, videos etc.) and offers on platforms such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon.
So if you are looking to grow your fanbase — now might be the perfect time to start your own ecommerce website.
3. Clipboards and spreadsheets just aren’t cutting it
I’m all for keeping things simple.
I began my first wholesale greeting card business selling door to door and writing orders down in a Moleskine notebook.
Shopify wasn’t around so I had to make do with a spreadsheet.
This was ok, but it didn’t give me a great deal of insight into what was and wasn’t working in my business.
12 years on… we have an ecommerce website
So… I no longer make and sell greeting cards.
And what’s replaced the notebook and spreadsheet? Shopify
Because for a small monthly fee, you get access to a platform that can manage products, orders, inventory, payments and customer data.
Plus, you can track sales and predict growth trends.
It’s a simple yet POWERFUL e-commerce platform.
Ok, I’m ready to setup my own ecommerce website
If you’re ready to set-up you own store then you have a couple of options:
- You can sign up and DIY by following the wealth of resources on Shopify
- You can get some help from a Shopify expert (here’s a guide to help you find one)
Oh, and we would recommend that you keep your products/store running on eBay, Etsy and/or Amazon.
More platforms = More eyeballs = More Sales
In some cases, you can directly integrate these platforms with Shopify.
The only time we’d suggest switching a platform off is if it stops performing, the customer experience damages your brand or it requires too much upkeep.
I’m not quite ready…
There’s no rush… wait until the timing is right because setting up a new ecommerce website takes a significant amount of energy and resources.
Want 7+ cheat sheets to help you WIN on Shopify? We have created a toolkit to help you navigate some of the most common challenges in setting up a Shopify store. Sign up for them right here. We’d love to help you finish first. #HOPEWINS
Also published on Medium.