It’s no secret that Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of eCommerce. The giant claims half of all eCommerce sales in the U.S., has over 100 million Prime members in the U.S. alone, and 54% of U.S. product searches online are now starting on Amazon.
And the list goes on and on.
So why invest precious time and resources into expanding to other domestic marketplaces? Can’t I just master Amazon and call it good?
Why go beyond Amazon?
Well, have no doubt that you should dial in your Amazon offering first—it’s the bread and butter of eCommerce. But after you do, George Hatch, Pattern’s Director of Marketplaces, says there are some other key reasons you might consider pursuing the other half of eCommerce sales that the ‘Zon hasn’t dug its massive, furry hands into just yet: brand integrity and incrementality.
“If you're not selling your product in other domestic marketplaces—if you are not representing your brand—somebody else is, and it may not be up to your standards,” he said in Pattern’s recent webinar on the subject.
Not to mention, taking control of your brand across other U.S. marketplaces can help give you the growth that only comes from meeting buyer demand across the eCommerce spectrum (not just on Amazon). Plus, expanding into other U.S. marketplaces might set you up for success in the international eCommerce arena in the future.
The bottom line here is growth, Hatch said. Having a presence on other eCommerce sites can help you access swaths of new customers and grow your brand—all under your own terms.
So which U.S. marketplaces should I break into?
Hatch and the other experts at Pattern agree that four U.S. marketplaces should be at the top of your list when considering going beyond Amazon: Walmart.com, eBay, Jet, and Google Shopping. Each marketplace has a unique offering that could help you find key growth opportunities you didn’t know you were missing out on.
The stats: Walmart.com grew its U.S. eCommerce sales by 37% in the first quarter of 2019, surpassing Apple to become the third largest online retailer in the U.S. after Amazon and eBay. Plus, it’s expected to capture more than 4% of the online retail market this year in the U.S.
Awesome, tell me more: Unlike Amazon, Walmart only supplies some 8% of its 44 million products. The remainder—a fat 92%—is coming from marketplace sellers. And there’s only 23,000 sellers on Walmart.com (compared to the over 5 billion sellers across the Amazon marketplace). Simply put, “the competition there is not to the same level that is it on Amazon," Hatch said.
Any challenges? Well, some people see Walmart as a discount retailer and brands may be hesitant to sell there so as to not tarnish their brand. But, as Hatch noted, if you aren’t there representing your brand, someone else is. Why not do it on your terms?
Fact or fiction? Many people associate eBay with used, c-to-c goods. In actuality, 79% of items sold on eBay are new. Not to mention, 70% of items on eBay ship for free across the U.S., U.K., and Germany. Oh, and 80% of their GMV last quarter came from fixed-price listings (or buy-it-now instead of auctions).
Opportunities: eBay offers brands the chance to create a custom storefront and really tell their brand message to the consumer. Additionally, they give more of the buyer’s information back so brands can actually engage with that buyer in the marketfront. That way, brands can make sure that their customer service is on par with what they want to offer buyers.
What could go wrong? Counterfeit activity remains a challenge on eBay (and other eCommerce sites, for that matter). eBay has taken some anti-counterfeit measures in the form of their Verified Rights Owner Program. However, Hatch said, the best way to avoid counterfeits is to ensure you have actual listings on a marketplace to begin with. Buyers prefer to buy from the brand rather than third-party sellers anyway, but that can’t happen unless your brand has a presence in the first place.
Worth it in the long run: It’s true that monthly visits to Jet have dropped since Walmart acquired them in 2016 (going from some 35 million to 10 million). But there are still brands that are making significant sales on Jet, Hatch says. Plus, he sees Walmart possibly relaunching the site in the future.
Be where buyers are: Though there’s not too much to say here, the bottom line, Hatch said, is that “it just makes sense to be anywhere where your buyers might want to engage with your brand.”
New blood: Since 60% of shoppers that buy on Google Shopping are new to that brand, Google Shopping offers a unique opportunity to reach customers who might not be searching on Amazon for their needs. With over a billion individual users accessing Google’s services across the board, taking advantage of the scale and reach of Google early on will pay dividends in the future.
Ease and freedom: Plus, Google Shopping offers a similar, universal checkout experience to Amazon, taking care of the customer service for the transaction to reduce the number of clicks for a buyer. Buyers can filter by brands and even search for products on Google Images and other Google services like YouTube. Google also allows you to feed them all of your brand information: brand-approved image stacks, descriptions, and titles, all “ensuring that it’s a great brand experience,” Hatch said.
But, (just as on other marketplaces) content in Google’s catalog can tend to take precedence over other content. Improving your search ranking may be a challenge, but nothing you can’t take on with some effort.
How do I get started?
The logistics of expanding to a new domestic marketplace can be daunting. It takes time—and a plan—to get there. Hatch says the marketplace experts at Pattern are a ready and willing resource to help you decide when is best to consider breaking into other U.S. marketplaces and how to do it best.
Even though other domestic marketplaces may seem to hide in Amazon’s large shadow, it’s no reason to ignore them, Hatch said.
"One of the reasons we feel that omni-channel ecommerce is so important for a brand is that—anywhere a buyer is shopping—we really want our brand partners to make sure that they have their message out there."