Making the most of marketplaces and ‘Shop Independent’ campaign

It’s challenging for brands to get repeat buyers when selling on marketplaces like Amazon. Richard Stubbings writes about the challenges in the article from the post Independent retailers, repeat buyers, and Amazon at Practical Ecommerce:

Whilst third-party sites bring in much needed revenue, they are poor building repeat customers. The vast majority of buyers from these sites think of themselves as customers of the sites. So they return to Amazon, Ebay, or Etsy and not your site.

One way of countering this is by heavily branding your packaging, invoices, and all communication you send to the customer. Amazon is excellent at this, too, as every box that leaves its warehouse has Amazon’s name on it. Thus merchants using Fulfillment by Amazon have little chance at establishing a brand. But if you try to emphasize your own branding, take care to not to break any self-promotion rules of the third-party marketplace.

Stubbings gives 3 ideas of what brands can do to enhance their brand and inspire repeat purchase.

First, customers need to remember your company when they consider purchasing something that you sell. Second, they need to have a reason to use your company rather than a competitor. Third, it must be easy for them to find you.

As to why customers should purchase from your company, it is challenging to compete on Amazon with anything other than price, and with the result that margins are trimmed so much there is little or no room for further discounts for repeat customers. Increasingly, the largest proportion of income made on a sale goes in commission to the marketplace.

He ends with the idea of a “shop independent” campaign as a way to bring some awareness to consumers. This reminds me of the “shop small” campaigns that have focused on brick-and-mortar stores. We’d support such a campaign:

Currently customers do not realize how much money these third parties take. If more independents collaborated and started educating consumers, then perhaps more of them would look outside of these marketplaces.

It would be nice if a “shop independent” campaign could be developed that educated people to the idea that local businesses pay local taxes and help support local activities. And, for the Internet, local is not just your town or city. It is also your state and, indeed, your country.

In the long term, we have to change the online shopping behaviors of most consumers. We need to educate them to understand that, whilst Amazon is a good way to initially find an item, it will be better to go elsewhere for repeat purchases. If we fail to do this, eventually online retailing will consist of only marketplace giants, like Amazon.


Andrew @ EcomLoop
Are you looking to start or grow a standalone ecommerce shop? I help independent businesses achieve success on the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. As the owner of multiple ecommerce businesses, I've had the opportunity to get experience with nearly every aspect of the ecommerce industry. I started EcomLoop to help other quality independent businesses using my knowledge and experience. To stay on top of new ecommerce developments, I publish The EcomLoop Weekly Loop, a blog and email newsletter with original thoughts and curated links to help independent businesses improve their businesses.