When the world wide web went live in the 1990s, it was hard to imagine then how the internet and eventually e-commerce will change the way we shop for the things that we need.
As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them”; Malaysians have since jumped on the bandwagon to promote their businesses and products on the Internet. As of June 2018, Malaysia records 15.3 million online shoppers (a whopping 50% of the population!) and 62% of mobile users use their devices to shop online.
Let’s look at the online selling platforms available today and the pros and cons for each platform:
A webstore is a website dedicated to your brand and products. You can typically set it up through an e-commerce store development platform.
Pros of having a Webstore:
As the owner of your webstore, you get to personalize the shopping experience and customize your site to your liking. You have full control over the page design, how you wish to feature your products, create your brand and more.
You also get to decide on your preferred payment method and the payment terms. More importantly, you get to build and own your customer database. This useful data is very important for your business as you will be able to understand your target market better, strategize on how to improve sales and increase loyalty.
Having full control of your webstore does come with a downside; it is time-consuming and requires a lot of efforts to set it up to have it accurately reflect your brand and vision.
To maintain your webstore, you need to periodically pay for the domain name and the payment gateway as well. If you have a tight budget, this may not be ideal.
Perhaps the most labour intensive effort you need to make is to generate traffic to your webstore and to maintain or increase that amount of traffic as time goes. You may need to perform search engine optimization (SEO), constantly updating your pages with new contents, invest in advertisements or more.
With the rise in popularity of social media sites, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs saw the potential of rapidly growing their business with the reach social media has, especially with Facebook.
As of the third quarter of 2018, Facebook is the most popular social network with 2.27 billion monthly active users.
In 2019, the number of Facebook users in Malaysia is expected to reach 13.57 million.
Pros of Facebook:
As mentioned above, Facebook has the highest number of active users compared to other social media sites, enabling you to take advantage of this high traffic. It is easy to create and set up a Facebook Business Page to showcase and sell your products. If you are on a tight budget, this is suitable for you as it is free of charge.
Your Facebook Business Page comes with data analytics capabilities as well, so you are able to know how many people clicked on your products or viewed them.
Facebook is also a very effective viral marketing tool. Users can easily like your products, comment on them and share pictures of your product with their friends.
Similarly like having a webstore, you need to maintain your Facebook Business page which takes time, resources and effort. This requires you to regularly publish engaging contents or updates to continuously generate interest in your page.
Facebook being a viral marketing tool can be a double-edged sword because as easy it is for “good” product news to reach many customers, complaints or negative comments spread like wildfire as well. Hence you need to be able to build good reputation and handle these well and fast.
It is almost impossible for you to not see a marketplace showing up in search engines when you search for an item. Popular marketplaces in Malaysia today include Lelong.my, Lazada and mudah.my.
Pros of Marketplace:
It is very easy to set up to sell in a marketplace. All you have to do is to create a seller account, upload information and pictures of your products into the marketplace’s ready site and start selling! You do not need to be computer savvy to do this.
You can also take advantage of the high traffic in marketplaces, which can translate into high sales volume. Also, most marketplaces have their own customer support team to handle enquiries so that you don’t have to. Well-known marketplaces are trusted by their customers, knowing they can count on the marketplace’s policies and protocols to get their money back during disputes. Marketplaces also offer payment escrow services which customers would prefer.
As good as it may sound, the downside of marketplaces include high competition as anyone, anywhere can sell a similar product like yours.
You will have restricted control over branding and communication with your customers, making it difficult to do search engine optimization for your brand or product exclusively or customize your product pages. This also means you have very little or no details on your customers at all.
As you can see, buyers today have many options to get the items they want, namely from Webstore, Facebook or marketplaces. Hence as a seller, you need to ensure that your products can be found on various platforms for the maximum number of sales.
Selling through multi-channels ensures that you reach as many target customers as possible wherever they are at in the buying cycle. This helps to cater to the different mix of customer online purchase behavior. For example, some customers may tend to only buy from their favourite marketplace, while some will do comprehensive research at webstores before making a decision to purchase and etc. What’s more, this helps you generate more income compared to using just a single channel.
For instance, a customer looking for a solution to a specific need or problem (like a suitable toy for a newborn or a cocktail dress for a function) will browse and end up at a Webstore, reading product descriptions which may lead them to the consideration stage.
At the consideration stage, they may visit Facebook to read reviews on the product or even on the seller. Finally, at the purchase cycle, the customers know what they want and are ready to buy. They will then most likely visit marketplaces to look for the best bargain.
Hence, selling through multi-channels is no longer an option, but a necessity.
SiteGiant enables multi-channel selling through the e-commerce platform and makes it convenient for sellers like you by providing a Web store and Facebook marketing tools. You will also be able to sync your products across various marketplaces in Malaysia and worldwide so that you can easily manage your products and the inventory. Last but not least, you can easily track how well your products are selling, be it on the Webstore, Facebook or marketplaces. Now, this is convenience redefined!