If you’re a designer or creative who’s looking to start your own online store, it’s essential for you to have your own website, rather than listing your products on marketplaces. Marketplaces are a great way to gain exposure and ensure multiple revenue streams, but having your own domain name and owning your own website is the only way that you can ensure that all of the work you put into your business actually belongs to you. You started your own online store so that you could be your own boss, so why let other companies own the equivalent of your physical storefront, and the very face of your brand?
Get Your Own Domain Name
From day one, if you hope to build your online brand, you’ll need your own domain name so that you can steadily build on your website and your brand. It’s easy and cheap. Simply purchase the domain from any domain registrar, then configure the domain to point to SupaDupa. You will also need to add the domain to your SupaDupa account, and choose to have it as the 'default domain' for your store. The custom domains feature on SupaDupa is available on any paid plans.
All of your work designing, sourcing, and creating your products belongs to you, so don’t base the brand you’ve worked so hard to create on another company’s website.
Branding Is Everything
Marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or even Facebook have specific layouts that dictate how your customers interact with your brand rather than letting your customers get to know your brand’s unique personality. You don’t have to pull your products from marketplaces entirely, but you do need a place to call your own, where your brand’s personality is written on every little pixel.
Think about it: at your own online shop, you’re the producer, director and star of the show. Your products are the only ones in the spotlight. Wouldn’t you rather link future customers to that page, instead of a marketplace where similar items are put on display to compete with yours? When you send people to a marketplace instead of your own website to buy your goods, you’re opening yourself up to competition, often from competitors or even imitators who can undercut you on price if they have access to mass production or produce lower quality goods.
Don’t dilute your brand, and don’t give free advertisement to competitors! Build brand loyalty by building relationships with your customers on your own home turf.
Your Own Website Exudes Professionalism
Once you make sure that you have your own online store, be sure that all of your social media accounts and business cards list this domain rather than your link at an online marketplace. YourBrand.co.uk sounds much more professional than eBay.com/YourBrand, doesn’t it? This might not be important for established brands, but for newer brands -- especially those that make bespoke or boutique items -- the added professionalism makes customers more likely to trust you and ultimately more likely to purchase from you.
At events, your table, promotional materials and signs should have both your logo and your own online store’s domain printed on them. Instead of being another craft marketplace seller, you’re setting yourself up as a legitimate company in your own right.
We’ve talked a little about how your own website gives you control of your brand’s personality, look, and feel. After all, it can support images, videos, PDFs -- you name it. But having your own online store about more than just controlling the look of your brand.
1. Control Of Your Property
If you think of selling online in brick-and-mortar terms, your own website means you own the building rather than letting it out from someone else. You’re not at the mercy of your landlords who have final say on remodelling projects or even what your storefront can put on display. Relying on Facebook as your main online property, for example, would mean that accidentally violating their terms and conditions could see your business taken down in an instant. All of your followers, all of the work that you’ve put in to build your brand and relationships with customers, could be taken away because you don’t have full control.
2. Control Of Your Customer Contacts And Leads
In the same way, depending on something like social media for your main online presence means that you can only reach your consumer base is through social media updates. For commercial businesses, this gets tougher every year since social media platforms are constantly finding new ways to become profitable. Paid advertisements are how social media platforms monetise, which means brands like yours will need to pay if they want to reach larger audiences. And, even if you do pay to get a bigger reach and build your following, you don’t own any of that contact information. Having your own online boutique, with a contact form or newsletter signup list, is crucial for small businesses to capture new leads that will help your business grow.
3. Control Over What People See When They Search For You
SEO, or the art of showing up higher in Google search results, is a huge topic in ecommerce because search engine referrals drive the most amount of traffic to online stores. If you have your own website for your online brand, you’re in full control of what others see when they search for your brand. Your own website will almost always come up first when people search for your brand’s name. Any social media presence is just icing on the cake, as those pages will also rank highly, allowing you to dominate any branded searches that your customers use to seek you out. If you’re just on Facebook, or Etsy, or eBay, a Google search for your brand could turn up competitors with similar names. Instead, own your own website and link to it on all of your social media websites to boost your SEO even further. You’ll also want to tag your images so that Google’s search engine crawlers know to associate your product photography with the keywords that will get them found.
4. Control Over Your SEO Keywords
Your own website also lets you control the keywords that lead people to find you, giving you more ways for customers to find you instead of just through Etsy or Facebook searches. All you need to do is a bit of research to decide on your specific, branded keywords - Beginner’s guide to SEO
Starting your own online shop, rather than relying on a marketplace or social media, is about making sure you have full control over your brand and full ownership of all the hard work you put in building it. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from marketplaces, as they’re a great place to get noticed, and you already know that social media is absolutely essential to the success of an online boutique. But these should all be additional streams of revenue, leads and customer relationship building that add to the value of your main online presence -- your online store. It’s fundamental to have a place that all of your social media profiles, marketplace shops, and blogs drive traffic to.
The domain that you own, that features your products and puts your brand first, is what anchors the rest of your online presence. Make sure you own it so that every hour you put into your new online business adds onto a brand that’s stable and built to last.