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Amazon has established itself as the number one preferred channel for nutritional supplements and number two channel for skincare. The average consumer spends more than $100 per month — totalling $1,300 a year on nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbal and sports nutrition products, and skincare products such as creams, lotions and sunscreens.
This vividly displays (1) volume and opportunity, (2) the dangers and benefits of Amazon and other marketplaces, as well as (3) consumer desire for quality. Health and wellness e-retailers have two main options in terms of how they actually sell their products:
In this chapter, we’ll explain what each option entails, discussing the pros and cons of each.
As you go through the following sections, though, keep in mind that neither option is objectively “better.” What matters is which choice is best for your business at the current moment.
There are a number of benefits to creating and maintaining your own eCommerce website on which to sell your health and wellness goods.
The biggest advantage of taking this route is that you’ll have full control over your site’s branding and messaging—and, in turn, the entirety of your customers’ on-site experience. This control expands even further if you have a talented development team that can take full advantage of these opportunities.
You’ll also have direct access to unfiltered data regarding your customers’ on-site engagements and behaviors. This allows you to dig into specific, granular data that can lead you to make improvements to your site (and other aspects of your business) that actually matter to your customers.
Finally, you’ll have more control over your approach to pricing, as well as any promotional campaigns you may decide to run.
In terms of pricing, since your products won’t be listed side-by-side with your competitors’, you’ll have a bit more leeway to use true value-based pricing—rather than being forced to price your products in-line with the rest of your industry.
(We’ll talk more about pricing in the next sections.)
You’ll also have more freedom in terms of the promotions you decide to run. This can allow you to get creative and innovative with your campaigns—an area which is a bit more restricted when operating through a marketplace.
While the benefits of creating a fully-functional eCommerce website can lead to major gains for your company, going this route is not without its fair share of downsides to watch out for.
First of all, it’s completely up to you to build and optimize your website—and to do so to your audience’s liking. This takes a sufficient investment of time, money, and energy on the part of your design team. If you don’t yet have a design team, this cost will come in the form of hiring such talented individuals, either on a freelance or permanent basis.
What’s more, since you’ll have complete control over your eCommerce website, you’ll be in charge of maintaining it over time, and mitigating any issues that may occur as time goes on. You’ll also be responsible for determining how your fulfillment processes operate—which isn’t necessarily the case when using a marketplace to sell your goods.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—generating visibility and brand awareness for your new eCommerce website isn’t easy. An “if you build it, they will come” approach just isn’t going to work; you’re going to need to invest heavily in your marketing initiatives in order to make your target audience aware of your brand, and to get them to navigate over to your website.
If you have the capacity to build an eCommerce website that provides your target audience with a top-notch experience, you absolutely want to consider doing so.
But, it’s vital to keep the potential pitfalls of going this route in mind from the get-go; you don’t want to end up in a position where you’re unable to keep your website up and running to its highest capacity.
Your other main option for getting started in the world of health and wellness eCommerce is to enlist the help of an online marketplace, such as Amazon.
As with the previous option, there are a number of benefits and drawbacks to taking this route. Generally speaking, the pros and cons here are merely the flipside of the above-mentioned pros and cons—but they’re still worth discussing in a bit more detail.
Fledgling eCommerce companies in the health and wellness niche can benefit from selling on marketplaces in a number of ways.
First and foremost, the potential for instant visibility and brand awareness increases substantially when presenting your products on an established marketplace. As long as you’ve optimized your product pages and descriptions, your products should appear to consumers whenever they use relevant search queries.
What’s more, the people using these marketplaces are typically primed to make a purchase (or to at least consider doing so). Basically, if you’re able to get your products in front of your target audience on an online marketplace, you’ll also have at least a decent chance of getting them to convert.
Many online marketplaces also offer assistive services with regard to logistics and fulfillment. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), for example, allows you to let Amazon take care of warehousing and delivery of your products—meaning you’ll have more time and resources available to invest into growing your business.
Along with this, online marketplace teams are dedicated to helping their partner retailers succeed, overall. Since your success leads to their success, it just makes sense that marketplace teams will want to do everything they can to help you sell your products.
As expected, there are downsides to consider when selling on online marketplaces.
The most glaring obstacle is the fact that competition on these platforms can be incredibly fierce. The potential for instant visibility we mentioned earlier also applies to your competitors. That said, it’s essential that your presence on such platforms goes above and beyond that which your competition provides.
With the above in mind, it’s also worth noting that your ability to optimize your presence on a given marketplace is limited by the overall framework of said marketplace. While you can certainly add a branded feel to your presence on these marketplaces, it will still be “wrapped” in the marketplace’s branding.
Another area of concern is the fact that your customer data isn’t nearly as accessible as when operating your own eCommerce website. While online marketplaces do provide retailers with a substantial amount of data to work with, said data is presented through the lens of the marketplace in question.
In other words, rather than being privy to untouched and unfiltered customer data, you’ll only have access to that which the marketplace decides to give you.
Finally, costs can add up with online marketplaces. Depending on which you use, these added costs may come in the form of per-sales fees, regular membership fees, and/or fees paid for assistive services (like FBA). While these fees can certainly be worth it if you’re better able to grow your business, you’ll still need to consider how they affect your bottom line moving forward.
Channel loyalty is now a thing of the past. Multichannel marketing takes your business beyond your website and explores channels such as marketplaces, social media, and comparison shopping engines.
Reach your audience wherever they are on their buyer’s journey, as well as their device preferences. With mobile devices handy, there’s no limit to where shoppers can discover and purchase items.
If you’re just getting started in the world of health and wellness eCommerce, working with an online marketplace can allow you to dive in head-first—and potentially start generating sales right away.
Still, there are a number of trade-offs to consider when going this route that can impact your customer’s experience, and your overall profit margin. As long as you’re well aware of these downsides, and are prepared to work around them, selling on an online marketplace can lead to major growth for your health and wellness startup.
With all of the above in mind, we’ll now point out that you don’t need to make an either/or decision, here.
Though it’s advised that you choose one or the other option as you get your business up and running, you’ll eventually want to consider selling on both your own eCommerce website and any online marketplaces where your target audience is known to be active.
A successful shift to multichannel sales can lead to increases across the board:
In knowing how to optimally navigate both routes, you’ll be able to maximize the benefits of operating on each—while minimizing the potential downsides of doing so.
When adopting a multichannel approach to sales, it’s essential that neither channel operates in isolation. That is, you need to ensure that the data collected from and provided to your audience on each channel is uniform. This, in turn, will ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all of the opportunities that present themselves on both channels.
In contrast, focusing on one over the other will inevitably lead to missed opportunities on the channel that you’ve put on the backburner.
There are a number of tools to help you keep your multiple sales channels in-sync with each other. QuickBooks Commerce, for example, ensures that your inventory-related data remains up-to-date and accurate on each sales channel you use.
By keeping this data uniform at all times, you’ll ensure your audience always receives consistent (and correct) information from your company, no matter which channel they engage with you on.
Paula’s Choice Skincare, for instance, originated in the US 23 years ago but the distributorship came to Singapore 9 years ago. The motivation behind the brand’s international focus is to deliver “affordable and quality skincare products” in the region.
With the rise of eCommerce and social media, consumers are drawn to product transparency. Paula’s Choice Singapore were able to leverage social media to benefit their customers not only with quality skin care products but with quality skincare advice and education as well.
In the words of CEO Jeremy Tan:
“TradeGecko has really impacted us by saving a lot of time and helping us develop unique experiences for our customers
“I would recommend TradeGecko to businesses that are attempting to sell both online and offline. I think they would benefit greatly from this technology because it helps them structure the way they think about their organization.”
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