I’ve just started selling on another platform – All by MAMA. This is a site where all of the products are created by parents running a business alongside family life.
I’m pretty excited to have my products available somewhere else. I figure it’s good for visibility and credibility, if nothing else. They manage the PR and other promotional activity, which is something that never seems to make it to the top of my list (nor do I have the right contacts).
They also have a community (in the form of a private Facebook group) for sellers. I’ve missed the community element, since starting out on my own. Although I do a lot of networking, I don’t actually know many people in ecommerce, so this is exciting!
I figured it can’t hurt to give it a go. If you’re inspired by this, or thinking about joining another platform here are some things to consider.
Why are you doing it?
What are your reasons for wanting to join? Are you looking to increase your sales, improve brand awareness, be part of a team, all of the above? All are valid reasons, but it’s good to be clear on your motivation before you start looking into it seriously.
How will it affect your margins?
Most platforms will charge you to join. You may then need to pay an ongoing ‘membership fee’ (as we do on Amazon), plus commission on each sale you make. Some sites may also stipulate things such as you needing to offer free shipping. Make sure that this works for you.
If you’re considering joining to make more sales (and more money) work out how many sales you need to make to get back your initial joining fee (taking into account commission and any other costs).
If you’re just doing it to be featured somewhere else maybe you’re happy to swallow that initial fee and see it as a long-term investment. However, you still need to make sure you’re making a profit.
Which leads me on to…
How will the logistics work?
If, like me, your stock is sitting in an Amazon warehouse you’re effectively paying for the sale twice. You’re paying commission, plus you’re then paying Amazon to store and ship it.
I think there are two options here – and both involve having some stock that doesn’t get sent to Amazon. The first (my short-term plan) is to hold some stock yourself (in your spare room, garage, etc) and go to the post office a few times a week. For those of us who’ve been used to FBA, this is a pain. However, it will increase your profits. You also have the opportunity to add more to the customer experience – perhaps by including a little card, or gift with the order. As you know, you can’t do this on Amazon (other than by putting an insert inside your packaged product before it leaves the factory).
The second (my long-time plan) is to find a warehousing solution other than Amazon. (Preferably a cheaper one!)
You might be ok with sending your stock from Amazon directly to your customer, but do at least think it through.
Think about the other benefits
Some of the things I mentioned above about All by MAMA – being part of a community, getting some extra PR, might outweigh some of the cost for you. But you need to decide this for yourself.
Finally, think about the cons
When you decide to join someone else’s marketplace remember it is just that – someone else’s. They are likely to have rules, terms and conditions to adhere and will be able to change things without you having a say. Make sure you only sign up if it’s right for you.
The application process should be as much about you as deciding if they’re right for you, as them deciding if you’re right for them. Remember, they are also a company and they’ll be making money from you!
Of course, as with anything, you can always give it a go and, provided you’re not going to be taking a big financial hit you can do it for a set period of time and then stop.
Finally, there are different channels you can experiment with – such as eBay, or your own Shopify store. I’m on all of these and, while Amazon is still my biggest source of income, I’ll keep you posted on how I do with the others!