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If selling anything, do it from your website!

Diane Hall


The person purchasing an item online.

There are obvious reasons why selling products/services directly from your own website is better than if you sold them via a third party. Firstly, the third party will want a cut for their trouble, so you will make much less profit if selling your products via a platform owned by someone else. The draw with this is, if the third party has access to, and influence over, a much bigger pool of customers than you can achieve, the additional sales you should see will eradicate any affiliate/selling fees you’re required to pay and bring in a tidy sum besides.

The other major issue with selling via third parties, however, is the subject of control. When selling products from your own website you have the freedom to set their price, accept orders and alter any aspect of their listings/descriptions that you want.

Once you involve a third party, you lose control—something one of our clients experienced recently.

As part of their overall marketing strategy, our client asked us to set up an eBay shop on their behalf.

EBay seemed a good fit for these clients. Because they had their e-commerce website active before we ‘set out their stall’ on eBay, we were able to simply pull products through from their site onto eBay, which saved us hours that adding each individual product directly onto their platform would have entailed.

Sellers can customise their shopfront on the popular marketplace, and they can still access eBay’s range of tools and opportunities to promote their goods and see them appear more highly in customers’ search results. The products our client sells were destined to do well on there, and within a few days sales began to come in.

ebay old logo

Out of nowhere, after a week or so, eBay, in its infinite wisdom, decided to suspend our client’s account. They sent a message confirming their decision and the company froze the accumulated funds from sales already made on the site.

ebay old logo

The annoying thing is, there’s no reason that we can see, or that eBay can give, for this action. The sales made before eBay’s intervention completed without issue and the feedback buyers gave was wholly positive. No credit/sales limits were exceeded, and no refunds were requested. Their actions seemed truly baffling.

In this instance, our client’s eBay store/shop front was not the only sales channel they employed; however, what if it had have been? For more than a week, we’ve played email ping-pong with eBay, and got no further forward. Their decision could have killed a fledgling business stone dead.

eBay does not have the most intuitive platform, either, but when the freedom to sell from it is taken away, it certainly makes you appreciate the benefits of having your own sales channel, where no one can make the decision to freeze it or take it down but you.

It’s the same with new websites. It’s absolutely recommended that you pay a professional to design and create your site; however, you shouldn’t be held ransom to them once it has gone live. At Novus, we show our clients how to make changes on their sites, so that they can keep the content up to date and introduce new products, price changes or stock notices, if necessary. Because who wants to be charged £50 each time they wish to change a few words?

Control is an important part of being in business, and our eBay tale just shows how important it is to a) have more than one sales channel (i.e. not putting all your eggs into one basket) and b) have as much control as possible when engaging third party sales solutions—because things can go wrong, as we’ve demonstrated.

EBay and similar websites are effective secondary sales solutions. The important word there is ‘secondary’. Pour as much of your time, efforts and budget into promoting your main sales solution (i.e. your website) as you can before heading down alternative avenues.

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