Why Every Brand Needs an Off-Amazon Strategy

If you’ve just launched a new brand, your automatic thought might be to use Amazon as your sole distribution channel.

It’s hardly surprising: Amazon is, after all, the single biggest e-Commerce store in the world. Everyone’s heard of it. Many of us shop there.

But in this article, we’re going to show you why you need to attack on two fronts with both an on-Amazon strategy and an off-Amazon strategy that’s centered around your own website.

King Amazon

The majority of the sales process is taken care of when you sell with Amazon. You find yourself a product, list it, and Amazon pretty much does everything else. The process makes it so easy that you probably didn’t even consider creating a website. There didn’t seem to be any point, as Amazon pretty much is your website. It drives all the traffic you thought you needed.

And for many online buyers, Amazon is the start and the end of their shopping day. And some of the stats are amazing: The number of Amazon sellers who pocketed sales of over $100,000 in 2016 was 100,000.

If shoppers adopt an “Amazon-only” approach, it’s thus easy to see why some brands are tempted to do the same. Is it really worth the time and hassle to go elsewhere and adopt an off-Amazon strategy? Is there any need to spend time and money on a website?

Well, actually, there is.

The Difference Between Selling A Product And Building A Brand

There is a difference between selling a product and building a brand. If you’re simply looking to make a bit of the cash on the side each month selling a few products and aren’t worried too much about scaling, focusing on just Amazon works perfectly fine.

If, however, you’re goal is to grow and establish your brand in the online world and you have big plans to scale-up, you need to consider your on-Amazon strategy and your off-Amazon strategy.

In other words, you need to build a website and brand to complement your efforts on Amazon.

It’s time to start looking beyond Amazon because it’s important to remember that Amazon, as useful as it is, is not in the business of building your brand. This is your job, and you need to consider other sales channels, rather than relying on just one.

All it takes is a change in regulations, or for Amazon to purchase a new niche retailer, and you could find that your single sales channel has evaporated into thin air. They don’t owe you anything.

An off-Amazon strategy is not, however, a mere back-up plan. It should be a key part of your business plan. Here are a few reasons why every brand needs an off-Amazon strategy:

Your Brand Needs Validation

Consumers like it when they can validate a brand. It helps them to establish some trust.

If you exist purely and simply on Amazon, you lose that chance to build a rapport with the consumer. Without a website, what have you got besides a few items listed on Amazon?

Business validity is so important for consumers who are looking to part with their hard-earned cash. Psychologically, they need to feel that they can trust you before making a purchase from you.

You need something that lets the customer know who you are, what your values are, and - as a bonus - what your story is. Your website lets you achieve something that Amazon can’t - it lets you connect with your customers.

It is not difficult to create an eCommerce website. All you need is an excellent eCommerce platform such as Shopify. It has a very handy dashboard that allows you to import your products easily. You also have a variety of website themes to choose from for your store.

Customers Will Remember You

If you’re focused on selling products and not building your brand, and as a consequence you’re relying on just Amazon to sell, you might find that it’s really hard to scale.

Why? Because customers might not remember you.

Customers who shop on Amazon remember Amazon and not necessarily you and your brand. When they go to shop on Amazon, they say to themselves “I’m going to do some shopping on Amazon.”

Amazon is always first and foremost in the shopper’s mind. If they have a good shopping experience with you, it doesn’t follow that they’ll remember you or recommend you - not unless you have a brand that’s memorable because you’re focused on having a website to go side-by-side with your Amazon strategy.

Customers Will Promote Your Brand

Before Facebook, it was a lot easier to just focus on Amazon. But now that almost two billion people are on Facebook sharing products they just bought, it seems remiss not to use social media as part of your off-Amazon strategy.

If you’ve got a website, you’ve got a chance to grow your brand recognition. When a customer has a great shopping experience with you, they can share your company and posts on social media, thus increasing your exposure and boosting your brand.

You’ll have seen people share products on Facebook and Instagram. Until you start working on creating a website and focusing on your off-Amazon strategy, your competitors will increase their exposure on social media while you’ll be left in the dark, picking up the same amount of predictable sales each week.

Because There Are Other Places To Sell

You already know that there are other eCommerce stores on the Internet, from which you can sell your products. But why aren't you using them?

Maybe you’re of the opinion that Amazon is King and no other store is worth the time. It does account for a lot of B2C eCommerce sales. 45% of all B2C eCommerce sales are sold through marketplaces, with Amazon being the most popular (Etsy and others account for 1% of these sales).

But 55% of B2C eCommerce sales are accounted for by branded stores. If you work on your branded stores, you’re essentially doubling down on your sales.

Amazon Brand Registry Is So Important 

On a final note, it’s well worth pointing out the importance of Amazon Brand Registry.

Without getting approved in the Amazon Brand Registry, your brand is vulnerable. Your listings are vulnerable to being changed by other sellers, who can also change your descriptions and update your tests. In other words, you lack control over your products and your brand.

Applying for Amazon brand registry is super simple; it doesn’t take long and there are a couple of benefits that come with it. You get more authority over your the listing content of your own products, which means you’re in control of titles, images, details, et cetera. You can also swap the standard product ID with EANs and UPCs.

In conclusion, you need to note that working on your off-Amazon strategy will take time. Once you launch a website, it will be your job to drive traffic via SEO and pay-per-click advertising. It will be your job to nurture your relationship with your customers. Amazon will still be there for you, but you’ll effectively be going it alone. It could be the making of you and your brand.

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About the Author

Michelle Deery is a team member of Tulsa based Heroic Search in Tulsa. She specializes in writing about eCommerce and growth strategies.