Build or Buy?

This is a guest post by Ben Koppenens of Ecquisition.com, an online website marketplace (https://www.ecquisition.com/).

Before you set up an ecommerce business, you will have to invest 6-12 months at least. Is your goal a website with high rankings in Google? Then add another 6-12 months. You can skip this initial phase by taking over an existing shop. This way you can save a lot of time and get a head start. In this article we will discuss this kind of acquisition.

Buying an existing web store

By buying a web store you have some major advantages. Often there is already revenue, contacts with suppliers, clients and of course the website itself.

If you are going to buy an existing webshop, there are a number of factors that can boost the price considerably. For example, if you have to buy the current stock directly or if the seller based the price of the webshop on turnover that he expected to make in the future. First and foremost, based on a broad-based valuation method, our advice is to come up with a price that you both consider acceptable. But in whatever way you come to a price, when the website has proven itself, the purchase price will reflect this success and requires an investment.

On the other hand, the self-launching of a webshop also has its drawbacks. Adapting that design every time, creating valuable content, building up SEO positions, fine-tuning the technology or building a regular clientele can be a lengthy and expensive process. On average, starting a serious web store costs 25,000-30,000 US$ at least.

Ways to find an existing web store

If someone possibly thinks about selling his web store, he will not immediately show it on his website. Showing that a webshop is for sale will quickly make you lose customers. That is why there is usually nothing to see on the web shop itself. But just like in the other company sales there are special mediators and websites for this. This ranges from simple advertisements at market places to full purchase guidance. This website offers ecommerce company’s for sale as well as advice when you want to buy or sell: ecquisition.com.

Risks when buying a webshop

Always make sure that you carefully examine the price of a webshop. In many cases this is based on, for example: numbers of visitors and generated revenue. But does this mean that there is actually profit? What are the costs of those visitors, for example? If there are a lot of advertising spending needed to attract those visitor numbers? Because we can all advertise and buy visitors! (effective and cheap advertising is still good though). Visitor numbers can also drop quickly in the event of a possible takeover. For example, the seller may have mentioned his shop on many other websites (his own PBN). If he is no longer owner, these links will be removed, which means less direct visitors, or even visitors from search engines. You will have to build all of this yourself. So always do good research before you purchase a website.

Advantages of taking over an existing webshop

You no longer have to worry about creating the website, finding suppliers or buying the domain name. Because that’s all done. Often there is still stock present, or a dropship contract, and if you are lucky, the website already has quite a few visitors. So you can get started right away. And with problems you can still ask the seller for help.

Other advantages:

An existing customer base
Backlinks to the web store
Existing stock/suppliers

Disadvantages of taking over an existing webshop

But there are also disadvantages to taking over a ready-made web store. You did not set up the webshop from the beginning, so probably certain elements are not entirely to your liking. The start-up period often consists mainly of hard work and a lot of investing, but during this start-up period one learns to know a shop and niche through and through. You made every decision and solved every problem, so that your webshop will no longer have any secrets.

Margin of Opportunity

What is the best way to increase your margins as a merchant? Sell your own merchandise. Quartz as an interesting piece on Amazon’s “secret” plans for private merchandise:

Trawling through over 800 trademarks that Amazon has either been awarded or applied for through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Quartz identified 19 brands that are owned by Amazon and sell products or have product pages on amazon.com.

The key strategy behind private label brands is this however:

Perhaps what Amazon is trying to do as it rapidly expands into new businesses—especially business areas where it might not have forged partnerships with well-known brands—is to give the impression to customers that there are tons of options to choose from, when in fact, they’re really just choosing between different Amazon brands. “Consumers pay a premium for a brand, that’s why they’re not store-generic,” DiMassimo suggested.

Retailers have long adopted a multifaceted brand approach to retailing – think Zara plus Massimo Dutti, Oyosho, Bershka etc or HM plus COS, Cheap Monday or indeed pretty much any other major retailer these days. As above, it’s about generating margin whilst at the same time, presenting a feeling of choice.

Read the full piece

Amazon’s PR Genius

“Our teams remain heads-down and focused on customers,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “In the last few months, we launched Echo Show (our newest Echo device with a video screen), introduced calling and messaging via Alexa on all Echo devices, debuted Inside Edgeon Prime Video (the first of 18 Indian Original Series), introduced Amazon Channels in both the U.K. and Germany, launched four new Fire tablets, expanded Amazon Fresh to Germany, launched Prime Now in Singapore, launched our 25th airplane with Prime Air, hired more than 30,000 new employees, opened three new Amazon Books stores, launched more than 400 significant AWS features and services, migrated more than 7,000 databases using AWS Database Migration Service, and held our third annual Prime Day — signing up more Prime members than ever before. It’s energizing to invent on behalf of customers, and we continue to see many high-quality opportunities to invest.”

Jeff Bezos comments on Amazon’s 2017 Q2 earnings. This idea ‘to invent on behalf of customers’ works out more often than not for Amazon, we see AWS, Kindle etc as proof of that. But what people often overlook is the public relations genius of Bezos and Amazon in these situations.

Remember Prime Air drones on 60 minutes? Or the orange Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva) robots we see in the warehouses? Or how about Zappos and their famous customer service? Many of these will be loss making – perhaps indefinitely – but what they do for Amazon is priceless. They give them press, more often than not at the expense of other retailers and increasingly, other firms in general.

Not everyone can make splashy purchases like Whole Foods or The Washington Post, but as an entrepreneur, you can always think of creative ways to get press.

Behavioural psychology > Cosmetic changes

Behavioural psychology > Cosmetic changes…that’s what a new report on Ecommerce by Qubit claims. Now, the company it has to be said has somewhat of a play here selling behavioural technology. According to the company, “Qubit’s technology prioritizes the biggest opportunities for revenue generation so you can deliver personalization that makes an impact”. Yeah.

Regardless of this, the report itself is well worth your time. *Spoiler Alert*…these were the key findings in order of importance:

  1. Scarcity
  2. Social proof
  3. Abandonment recovery
  4. Product recommendations
This figures; some of the most successful ecommerce stores are classic examples of these e.g. Amazon’s product recommendations. Perhaps but not totally unsurprising is scarcity – this very concept is winning offline (Zara, HM etc). What’s worked for your ecommerce store? Let us know in the comments.

A Primer on Sourcing

What sets a successful production run apart from the rest is a company’s initiative to engage with a manufacturer while maintaining their relationship. If you’ve been looking to start producing your products overseas, it’s about time you tried. What are you waiting for!

Nathan Resnick has written an excellent piece on sourcing goods from China that can be applied to any business (regardless of sourcing country).

Go to A Better Lemonade Stand to read more.