While Amazon has been around since 1994, Pinterest and Etsy have been the hot new names floating around the Internet. So, what are these three Internet sites about and why are they important to small business?
Let’s start with the biggest player in this group, Amazon.com, is the world’s largest online retailer and was founded in Oregon. The website originally started as an online bookstore, but it now sells everything from food to electronics. Why is Amazon important to small business?
• Amazon Website Power – No matter how big your company is, your website probably doesn’t compare to how big Amazon’s website is in web rankings. According to compete.com, Amazon has over ninety-six million unique visitors a month. How does that compare to your website traffic? This means if your company has products on Amazon many more people will be able to search your products, find your products and most importantly, buy your products.
• Logistics – Small businesses often do not have staff to handle mailing out one item at a time, keeping track of that item in a system, and shipping the product out in a timely manner. If companies use Amazon, the only place they have to worry about shipping is Amazon and product is ready for the customer.
• Big Name Opportunity – When listing with Amazon, small business products are listed right along side “big company” products. Thus, lesser known products can benefit from the name recognition of bigger more well known counterparts. Also, for some businesses like self-published authors, Amazon might be the only place for people to buy their Ebooks, which have become even more popular due to Amazon’s Kindle Ebook reader. This opportunity didn’t exist for small authors even a couple of years ago when a publisher was needed for any success.
• The Drawbacks – The cost of putting your own products on Amazon is high since the company traditionally takes a significant portion of the selling price (up to 55%). In addition, small businesses are responsible for paying the shipping cost of getting goods to the Amazon facility to be stocked.
If your small business makes handmade items or sells vintage items, then Etsy might be for you. Etsy launched in 2005 and now has 9.1 million unique visitors a month according to compete.com. This website has grown substantially even in the last six months and is quickly becoming a powerful source for some small businesses.
• Uniqueness – If your small business is a niche business that sells handmade goods, Etsy is a great platform that prides itself on unique sellers and products.
• Marketplace – Some of the businesses that use Etsy are small enough that there is not even a business website associated with them, so Etsy allows these businesses and individuals a way to sell their products that may not have been accessible before.
• Affordability – Etsy is affordable for most small businesses to use, since sellers can list goods for a fee of $0.20 per item and 3.5% of every sale.
• Drawback – The website is not for all kinds of businesses and the types of products allowed for sale on Etsy are very limited.
The newest player on the small business marketing block is Pinterest, which launched in March of 2010 and has seen 400% user growth since September 2011 according to CNN.com. What makes Pinterest great for business?:
• The Power of Friends – According to a report done by Shareaholic, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and Youtube combined. This means that a product posted on Pinterest is most often clicked on and the user is taken to the webpage of the contributor. When a friend recommends your product as neat, cool, or good and the picture of that product actually coming up in front of the user to peak their interest it is powerful stuff.
• Women Dominate – 58% of Pinterest users are women, so if you have products that speak to women, you are in luck.
• Drawbacks – Pinterest does not allow you to actually post your items for sale like Amazon or Etsy. The more creatively the product is displayed the more successfully it will attract the interest of Pintrest users.
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