You know it’s time to leave eBay, Amazon or Etsy behind. Maybe you’ve outgrown being a small seller in a large online marketplace, or maybe you’re fed up with unfriendly policies and exorbitant fees. Starting your own ecommerce website and controlling your own destiny as a merchant is easier than you think, but it’s still important to take the right steps towards making this dream a reality, and the first steps include migrating away from your existing marketplaces and alerting your existing customers – the right way!
Don’t Make A Rash Decision!
Before you do decide to sever your relationship as a seller in a large online marketplace, it is important to follow the same advice that many individuals are given when they’re dissatisfied with a professional arrangement – don’t do anything hasty or rash, especially if a new policy or a fee increase has made you angry. While it may be personally satisfying to suddenly sever a sour relationship – especially if you provide an explanation as you’re walking out the door – it is important to note that thriving ecommerce websites can’t be built and launched overnight, and a strong customer base is not magically created out of thin air. You should try and maintain your existing seller accounts, unless maintaining those accounts is legitimately unsustainable.
Transitioning To Your New Marketplace
Your best course of action will be to slowly transition your business away from these marketplaces as your new ecommerce site gains steam. Yet don’t do anything to violate the seller Terms and Conditions of these marketplace sites, even if that means you won’t be able to communicate to your current marketplace customers that you’re creating your own ecommerce site. With proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing techniques, your customers will be able to easily find your new site with a simple web search query, and by maintaining your marketplace accounts in good standing, you’ll be able to complete your transition smoothly and without a sudden termination of your seller privileges. For example, if you’re an eBay seller, you can legitimately add a link to your new ecommerce site on your About page, but if you include links to your new site in auctions, eBay reserves the right to ban you as a seller.
Informing Your Customers The Right Way
Many online marketplace sellers that wish to migrate away from large online marketplaces make the mistake of attempting to use their existing marketplace listings and available pages (such as a seller homepage or about me page) to digitally alert existing customers of their new ecommerce site. Worse, some may collect customer email addresses through their seller transactions and attempt to contact existing customers by email. This is inadvisable for a number of reasons: It is likely against the existing marketplace’s Terms and Conditions, it may anger one-time buyers and those that are used to the normal buying protocol of the marketplace, and it may even damage your new site’s SEO if a search engine such as Google or Bing interprets these links as spam and gaming the SEO system. Instead, contact your existing customers through in-package mailers and setup an email newsletter that you can advertise through the mailers.
Although it is advisable to check the Terms and Conditions of your existing marketplace seller accounts, most have fairly lenient policies when it comes to in-package marketing materials. You can include a colorful, professionally-printed mailer with your packages that advertises your new ecommerce website, and you can even include a promotional code that offers the existing customer a discount on their next purchase from your website. As previously noted, the best way to legally and legitimately collect email addresses from your existing buyers is to setup an email newsletter and include a link on your mailer for your existing customers to go online and subscribe.
Keep Your Messaging Positive
When you prepare your in-package materials and your first email newsletters, be sure to keep your message positive and avoid disparaging or openly announcing your intentions to permanently leave your existing marketplaces – some of your customers may be loyal to the marketplace in question and wonder why you’re leaving their favorite place to shop online. Also, limit your materials to professionally-printed paper products and avoid including any food items or scented materials that may cause your customers to experience an allergic reaction.