Selling your digital products through a marketplace is a great way to establish your brand, build an audience, and test out minimum viable products, but there may come a time when you decide to go your own way.
Going solo comes with many benefits, including more control over everything from marketing to pricing, and more freedom to experiment with new products, among other things. But, in order to transition seamlessly, there are some important steps to keep in mind.
In this week’s edition of The EDDit, we talk about how to move your digital product brand from a marketplace to your own store.
Prepare ahead of time
Similar to moving to a new home, moving your brand requires some preparation in advance; You can’t just pick up and leave, and expect perfect results!
Think about all of the aspects of selling your products that your current marketplace takes care of; These are the things you will need to assume responsibility for once you’re running the show.
First things first!
It’s crucial to retain the audience you’ve built as much as possible. After spending the time and effort growing your marketplace presence, you don’t want to start all over from scratch (if you don’t have to)!
Some marketplaces allow you access to customer details, but you’ll want to check with your marketplace to be totally sure. With Etsy, for example, you are technically not allowed to contact a customer outside of the transaction, unless they’ve opted into a newsletter or mailing list.
Remember, you should never add customers’ emails to your list without their consent. Not only is it against Etsy’s policies—it’s also illegal in many countries.A Field Guide to Email Marketing, Etsy.com
So, if you’re still just speculating about moving to your own store, do what you can to build that contact list before-hand. Etsy sellers can give customers special offers (such as monthly coupons) for opting into a mailing list in the order notes, for example.
The importance of social media presence
If you haven’t expanded your brand to social media channels, you could be missing out on a lot of opportunities for engaging your audience in general. But more specifically, when it comes to moving to your own store, social media has added importance.
These platforms provide a home for your brand — before, during, and after the move. They give customers a place to find you while you are transitioning, and remain useful even after you’ve launched your own store.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like give you reliable places to make announcements and inform your audience about what’s going on and what they can expect from you in the future.
Social media bridges the gap.
Plus, if you don’t have access to customer details, social media gives you a lifeline. In some cases, it might be the only place you can reach people outside of the marketplace you’re using.
Obviously, you can safeguard against this situation by building a mailing list first!
Don’t forget: It’s important to be as consistent as possible across all platforms — your social media profiles, your marketplace profile, and your website — in order to maintain a cohesive brand that doesn’t confuse or disorient your audience.
Always keep your graphics, language, and information consistent and up-to-date, so that it’s easy for your audience to find you, follow you, and engage with you.
Communicating with your customers
It can be tricky to notify your customers that you’re opening your own store, because you’re technically taking business away from your current marketplace — and as we’ve mentioned, this can go against certain marketplace policies.
However, if you’ve built a mailing list or you’ve grown your social media following over time, you’re in a good position.
To make the transition from marketplace to store smooth and seamless, you’ll want to let your customers know what’s going on before the switch.
For example, you could send a newsletter to your mailing list in order to:
- notify customers that you’re moving to your own store (and when),
- inform them that customer support, refunds, and other inquiries will be handled entirely through your website,
- let them know where else they can find you (social media, etc.), and
- explain any incentives you’re offering for purchases on your new store.
If you have at least a landing page set up for your new site, be sure to update your marketplace profile so that all links are going to the right place.
Making the switch
Moving from a marketplace to your own store is an exciting time, so why not invite your customers to celebrate with you?
Treat the process like you would the launch of any new digital product store — build anticipation and perhaps even use the transition as an opportunity to refresh your brand! This is also a great time to try out a new marketing style, content format, or a new, exclusive product or product bundle.
If you want to mobilize your customers to get active on your new site, it’s worth considering offering them some kind of incentive, deal, or limited-time offer. This can stimulate sales and bring significant attention to your store, building momentum and herding your customers over at the same time.
For example, if you already know who your biggest spenders are, you could offer them exclusive discounts for making purchases directly off of the new site in order to get things moving. You could also offer site-wide limited-time discounts, or special free bonuses for existing customers or first-time buyers.
You can also take this opportunity to rethink your pricing. After all, you no longer have marketplace fees to worry about! Maybe you want to keep your prices the same — taking advantage of that extra income that will no longer be deducted by the marketplace. Or, you might decide to lower your prices to get the sales coming in.
Setting up your new store
We’ve written about a lot of different aspects of running a digital product store, from the anatomy (infrastructure) and accepting credit card payments, to pricing your products and choosing a business model.
Now that you’re moving to your own store, you’re going to have a few new responsibilities to account for that your marketplace may have been taking care of.
These likely include:
- Taxes. The laws surrounding digital product taxes are constantly changing, so check with your local jurisdiction for specifics. We also wrote a few posts about digital product taxes and dealing with EU VAT if you use Easy Digital Downloads, so check them out!
- Terms and conditions. In order to protect yourself, your customers, and your products, you’re going to need a set of terms and conditions on your website. If you’re not sure how to go about this, you can either hire a specialist to do it for you, or copy the format from an existing digital product store and modify them to fit your needs.
- A refund policy. Whether or not you decide to offer refunds, you should have a clear refund policy in place. Learn more about refunds for digital products here.
- Site management. From site security and site performance to the tools needed for running a digital store, there is simply more to manage when you’re flying solo. But never fear! The posts linked above should provide some guidance.
- Support. Be aware that you’ll now be responsible for supporting your products and responding to customer inquiries. Want to know how to be amazing at customer support? Check out this post.
- Protecting your products. Some people worry more about piracy and the abuse of their products than others, but regardless, it’s worth mentioning that protecting your products becomes your responsibility when you run your own store. Some digital product store owners even opt for subscrbing to dedicated anti-piracy services.
While these things might seem like a headache at first (especially since marketplaces often take care of them), the benefits of selling digital products through your own store can outweigh the extra hassle!
Here are a few more posts you may find helpful for getting your new store up and running:
- 7 common mistakes to avoid when launching a digital product store
- How much does it cost to set up a digital eCommerce site?
- How much does it cost to run a digital eCommerce site?
- 7 common digital product store obstacles and how to overcome them
- The basics of SEO for digital product websites
- Proven ways to get more visitors and more converting customers to your site
- What to do if your digital product site goes down
- Measurement that matters: The top website and eCommerce metrics for digital products
- How to optimize your checkout for selling digital products
- Mastering the purchase process for digital products
- Why you should be using value-based pricing for digital products and services
- Optimizing your digital product store for mobile use
- Providing a personalized experience on your digital store
- Tips for staying inspired through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship
Think about the increased freedom you will have by selling your products yourself, and how you can take advantage of it! You can truly experience the best of both worlds by taking the brand you’ve grown using the benefits of a marketplace and refining it to your heart’s content.
Now’s the time to focus on your vision. Where do you see your brand going? How do you want to define it?
The world is your oyster!
Have you moved your own digital product brand from a marketplace to your own store? What obstacles did you encounter? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!