Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Can You Afford To Trust 3rd Party Sites With Your Business Success?

When you first start out in your own handmade business one of the key decisions to be made is where you sell. Quite frankly it's super easy to get your stuff online and out there for people to buy, just check out the Sales Platform Matrix for how many options there are (and that's not even all of them).

And, while it's never been easier, I want to take this moment to urge caution. Just press that pause button and thoroughly consider what is really best for your business.

I've been wanting to write this article ever since I started, but I've been struggling with how to actually articulate my message. I was conflicted about why I should tell you that you need to have your own site as your end goal when there are so many viable options for you out there with far less costs. Why shouldn't you avail yourself of all the great sites out there that are designed for you to get your creations into willing shoppers hands? Then, I got my kick in the butt! A friend was having a sale, someone whom I've bought frequently from and I went to check out what she had. I really liked a couple of things so I went to log into the site and pop them into my cart for later (yep, I use my cart as a wishlist you seriously do NOT want to know how many items I have in my carts on various sites). So, I was logging in and I was getting an error, hmmm, I'm certain I had the right log in details. To make sure I went to my desktop computer that had all the data saved, I just had to go to the sites log in screen and it was all filled out. Odd, apparently my username was not recognised, it didn't exist! I checked with other users of the site to see if they had issues logging in and discovered there was no site error, it was my profile that was not welcome! Needless to say I was not impressed, sadly I vented a little too strongly to my friend who in all fairness had nothing to do with it and no control over it. She had NO CONTROL OVER WHO CAN SHOP AT HER STORE. Honestly, how scary is that???? This incident gave me the kick I needed to just be honest with you all.

I won't ever discourage you from where you sell, it's your business you have to choose what works for you and what makes it easy for you to work. I've even collected data on some of your options to make that choice easier, BUT I will always tell you that your end goal should always be your very own site!

In relation to community selling sites specifically, you are under the umbrella of the brand and image of the site. Regardless of how much you can tweak and customise, your shop still looks like this shop and that shop. Yes, there is the benefit of being on a large site with lots of traffic but I caution that this is also a disadvantage. Abby Glassenburg from While She Naps says, "The wonderful thing about buying handmade is the relationship you have with the maker of the item. But I think there is a way in which having a shop on Etsy can erode that one-on-one interaction, even while it creates a space for that interaction to happen with frequency and ease." You can read her full post here in which she reflects on the this topic and asks another seller why she has made the move to open her own commerce site.

So, in a pretty little nutshell, here are my big reasons why you need to get your own slice of virtual real estate to call home.

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