eCommerce is now so easy and so inexpensive that it really makes no sense to be part of anything calling itself an online virtual mall. We love Volusion. They have so many excellent features, and the pricing is certainly fair. Unless you need extensive eCom customisation (which we can do), Volusion should be a great solution for most sellers. We don’t get paid by Volusion to say that. We’re just happy to design Volusion sites for clients.
But once upon a time, I incurred some wrath…
Years ago, a website came onto the scene. It was called Bonanzle, later changed to Bonanza. I didn’t think the model made sense, so I openly said that people should not spend their time trying to make a Bonanza “booth” or bring traffic to a site where you might have competitors. The site billing itself as the friendliest shopping site online (because of its active discussion forums) went on a campaign to try to smear me.
That was surreal. But didn’t distract from the truth. Every time I asked somebody how their Bonanza sales were, I got either no information, excuses, or the truth that it was nearly zero. People who were making sales admitted that they were mostly coming from other Bonanza sellers trying to support the site. They would tell me the site needed time to get shoppers. I said that without serious marketing, how will anybody know to shop there? Who has heard of it? What is Bonanza doing about that other than waiting for you to bring traffic to the site?
People told me I was just a hater, and I was just an eBay cheerleader. I was neither. I was and am someone who looks critically and honestly at companies’ business models, how they market, etc… Sorry but Bonanza never seemed like a winner to me, and I didn’t think it was worth my clients’ time and effort. Yes even after they installed a module to import everything you had on eBay into Bonanza. Many of my clients’ eBay listings link to their eBay stores and make references to eBay… that has to look awfully weird on a non-eBay site.
I don’t hear about Bonanza anymore, and that’s just fine. But I decided to pop by Alexa, which has stats on websites, to see how they’re doing. I got two 2-year charts. The first measures the estimated number of internet users around the world visiting this site:
The second chart shows the amount of time users tend to spend on the site. This chart clearly shows a decline. People visiting the site are spending less time on it than they were before. Obviously, a website would hope that over time, MORE people come there and spend MORE time. These charts show stagnation if not drops. Can we call this one yet?
What’s the lesson here?
If I had to give you a takeaway tip, it would be that not every eCommerce effort is worth your time. Focus more on the sites that have great traffic, or on how to generate traffic to your own site. Don’t send traffic to anybody else’s site, and that includes eBay. If you have control of traffic, send people to YOUR site. Forget online malls, and for now, forget selling from Facebook as it’s been a non-starter even for big companies (future blog post).
Your own eCommerce site at your own dot com. It’s cheaper and easier than it’s ever been, and of course, we can help. Just ask.