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Amazon Webstore Alternatives: Time to Scale Up!

April 1, 2015

On March 19th, 2015, many merchants that sell via Amazon Webstores (over 2,000, by PulsarFour’s internal estimates), received an email from Amazon that warned them of Webstores platform to be discontinued on July 1, 2016.

The online retailers that have put their trust into the Amazon white label web hosting and into its world class platform, all of a sudden, were left alone by their partner. Many of these retailers are very famous brands, like Samsonite, Nickelodeon, Black and Decker, Lacoste – to name a few. But a vast majority are medium- and small-size businesses; the appeal of Webstores for them was in the same high quality product catalog that they use for selling on Amazon. Business services, such as payment processing, were also convenient to setup and use.

Why would Amazon do such a thing? It seems that Amazon’s simple Webstore solution did not have many of the features that competing platforms are offering; Amazon’s pricing was aggressive and it did not add up with small and medium size merchants pushing for more features and support. Many companies simply used the Webstores platform to start, ramp-up their branded stores, and then moved on to a more compelling and flexible platform.

What are your options today? It is obvious you would need to find Amazon Webstore alternatives for your online store.

Possible options are – a cloud-based hosted solution similar to that of Amazon or your own custom-built fully functional webstore. The latter gives you full control of your product and sales data, provides custom features such as configurable products, one-step checkouts, additional payment and shipping methods, drop-shipping and other; it allows you to design a unique user interface, and provides for integration with your various back-end systems.

While many smaller merchants, no doubt, would do well by simply migrating their few dozens of products into some kind of a template-based storefront provided by one of many cloud-based platforms, like Volusion, Shopify, Bigcommerce or others, we at PulsarFour are strong proponents of open source and comprehensive solutions built on a Magento Community platform.

There are numerous reasons to migrate Amazon Webstore to Magento, namely:

 

  • Ease of setup and use / administration of the system – you don’t need to be a developer or a technical expert to run a Magento shop;
  • Multitude of features that are ready “out of the box” plus literally hundreds of thousands various extensions and plug-ins developed by the Magento community developers and partners;
  • Flexibility and customization; fully responsive and SEO-optimal storefront;
  • Convenient all-in-one solution offering a combination of a store front-end, compact product catalog, mini-CRM, order management system, merchandising portal, CMS and an email marketing tool;
  • Scalability. Magento market is very fragmented, with 80% of the Magento stores serving SMB segment, 20% of it are running world-famous brands where concurrent traffic online is measured in thousands of shoppers.

When selecting an alternative to Amazon Webstore, you should consider the following:

 

  • Make sure they understand and can meet your identified needs; it is one thing to simply replicate your store’s existing functionality and completely another is to being able to support your growing business.
  • Get personal references from their customer that is similar to your type in terms of business size / model / vertical.
  • Experience and test their prospective platform with a sandbox setup that has your sample data / products in it.
  • Investigate and uncover their true competencies, documented and undocumented – via their published cases, articles, reviews and referrals, implied expertise from their team’s professional profiles, their partner site mentions, etc.

Keys to success to your prospective re-platforming project:

 

  • Assign a strong and competent Project Manager from your side to drive the initiative.
  • Setup a contractual relationship where your ecommerce professional services vendor commits not just to a set of technological steps in implementing your solution, but is rewarded at least partially based on your new store’s business ramp-up and commercial success.
  • Conduct in-house testing extensively.

As a result of Amazon Webstore migration, you will achieve the following, at a minimum:

 

  • You will get clean data in your new store, including clean and refreshed product catalog and an actualized customer list.
  • You are likely to get higher conversion through a better thought through user interface, better navigation and general layout of your new store.
  • Your organic traffic will most definitely drop in the first few weeks, so you should budget for activities to offset such a drop, PPC advertising campaign, press releases, email marketing campaigns, etc.
  • Your QuickBooks, if you use one, is likely to be upgraded to a more robust and modern ERP or order management and accounting solution; choices are many, but re-platforming is a good milestone to take your back end systems to the next level, too.

Ready to re-platform? We can help. Talk to us!

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