We asked our Ecommerce team one question: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing online sellers today? Here’s what they had to say:
John: Managing all the information. There are so many new terms, conditions, regulations and rules—trying to keep up with a new and thriving business environment that is constantly developing is a real challenge. Knowing what is important or relevant can be difficult when faced with all the information out there.
Theo: For new Amazon sellers, the problem of establishing any sort of presence through feedback strikes me as the most immediate challenge now that stricter rules have been introduced on promotional prices in exchange for reviews.
Craig F: Other online sellers! It’s now easier than ever to start selling on online marketplaces and we now see sellers from far and wide selling products into western markets; this is saturating the market and pushing prices down. The other challenge is volatility in currency. 2016 for most of us was a year of surprises, from the EU referendum to the US presidential election. Anyone who buys or sells GBP is likely to have seen their profit margins significantly altered, hopefully for the better.
Craig A: There are numerous challenges depending who you ask. Marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, have become de facto shopping search engines, so online sellers’ dependence and competitiveness on those platforms can dictate how successful their businesses are. Trying to prise buyers away from marketplaces and generating more profitable direct website sales can be a hard-fought battle for online sellers, especially for consumers hooked on Amazon’s customer-centric ethos and ‘buy with one-click’ convenience. Having said that, listing on marketplaces increases discoverability of third-party sellers’ products and there are vast swathes of online sellers who do brilliantly selling via those channels exclusively. The challenge involved in finding a market for a product is what has prompted many sellers to look overseas for their next customers, which often leads them to World First for help when repatriating those earnings, particularly from far-flung countries such as China and Japan.
Lydie: One of the biggest challenges is competing with the pricing offered by Asian sellers due to the delivery cost. When I met online sellers recently at a Price Minister – Rakuten event in Aix-en-Provence (France), we discussed how clients have high expectations in terms of delivery time but they are not ready to pay the price. Hedging their currency transfers from the marketplace can be one way to help online sellers to maintain a profitable margin.
Chris: These days there is so much to do to make your business the complete package. You can always launch one more product, find an alternative supplier, sell in more countries, look after your own shipping or do your own translation. Everyone wants to sell the most in the most cost effective way but I don’t think you should be afraid of keeping it simple, not spreading yourself too thin or being hesitant of outsourcing a service to a specialist to make your life simpler so you can focus on the product you are passionate about bringing to the world.
Tina: An overcrowded marketplace I would say. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard sellers talking about the marketplace being too competitive. Once a product becomes popular, there will be more sellers around the world starting to sell it, and it soon becomes a pricing war quickly followed by a drop in quality to reduce cost, which ultimately leads to poor reviews on the product.
Sam: Fulfilment outside of FBA. Amazon have set the bar so high with their FBA service that other fulfilment methods (for other marketplaces or for a seller’s own site) can seem too daunting to explore. The block of selling certain brands on some marketplaces (via retail arbitrage) is also proving difficult for some sellers.
Jon: Keeping constantly on top of new selling channels and maximising sales by streamlining all of their processes. I know a huge amount of sellers who only sell through a few channels such as Amazon in the UK, France and Germany. They very easily could also be selling on Cdiscount, Priceminister, Otto, Lazada and in the US on Amazon, Newegg and Walmart to boost their sales.
Huguette: Unfortunately, trying to dodge the obstacles and walls being erected as a result of politics.
Meet the team: World First’s ecommerce experts