There are some creators who just want to see their dream of a product come to life. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but in most cases those creators are selling themselves short. Don’t they think they may have other visions and dreams and ideas in the future that deserve a shot to be enjoyed by the world? If so, it takes money to bring more ideas to life, and after all the work that goes into launching a successful crowdfunding campaign, it’s a natural, easier and potentially lucrative step to move from crowdfunding to e-commerce.
This is basically how crowdfunding and e-commerce connect:
- You launch a successful Kickstarter campaign (yay!)
- You deliver your project on time and with good communication (yay!)
- Your product is good and people like it (yay!)
- You have enough units left over (or money to invest in more units) to sell to people (yay!)
- You participate in some combination of these sites to make those units available for purchase: Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, your own e-commerce website.
Using one or several of these sites does not exclude the others. These sites fall into two main categories:
- Mechanism of selling with a built-in audience (Amazon, Etsy, Ebay)
- Just a mechanism of selling (your own e-comm site)
The larger the audience that is built in, the more you will pay to be featured there (or to be prominently featured there via advertising). If you run your own e-commerce website, your margins will be better but you need to drive that traffic yourself. My preference is to run my own e-commerce website AND appear on one of the other main sites. My products fit best with the Amazon audience, but yours may be a better fit on Etsy or Ebay. Go where your target audience is.
Start by getting your crowdfunded product up on one of the sites with a built-in audience. It’s faster, easier and you can be selling product while you are building out your own site. You can also reuse most of the assets that you create for sites like Amazon on your own e-comm site. We’ll use Amazon as the example.
We’re not going to go into painful detail (and yes, some of the details can be painful) for setting up products on Amazon. Those steps are covered elsewhere in a variety of articles and posts, and are pretty easy to find.
Instead, we’re going to review some of the things you may not find elsewhere, so you can approach this growth of your business with both eyes open:
- Amazon Prime just means that Amazon stocks your product in their warehouse(s) and ships it out for you. You want this. Do it. Amazon has spent billions and made billions more getting their customers used to the free two-day shipping that comes with being a Prime member, and Prime members don’t like to buy non-Prime products unless they don’t have a choice. Prime will cost you (as the seller) a larger cut than if you fulfilled the product yourself, but it removes most of the friction from the selling and fulfilling process. It’s worth it.
- It’s a pain in the ass to get a product set up on Amazon… the first time. Once you have one live, it’s pretty much just copy and paste and edit. So if you’re feeling frustrated, push through. It’s all easier after you get the first one done.
- Amazon has some very specific requirements for images. You probably can’t use your Kickstarter images for the main product image, but you can usually use them for the additional images. It’s worth getting a great initial product shot, even if you need to invest in some photography.
- Success on Amazon is all about being successful on Amazon. Let me explain…. Of all the metrics for where your product shows up in Amazon’s listings (is your product #3 in your category or #10,675), the one metric that matters the most is how many you sell. When you’re just starting out, it can be frustrating since you need to climb the hill sale by sale, but it also means that once you start experiencing success you will be able to build on that success. Paid advertising on Amazon is pretty important in the initial stages, so be sure to build that into your budget. Costs can vary wildly by category, so unfortunately you’ll need to get into the setup before you can see figures.
A lot of the pieces – clear photography, concise copy, bulleted features – that go into a great Amazon listing are directly applicable to your own e-commerce store setup, which we cover in a separate article.