Starting an online store – moving from an auction site

Starting an online store – moving from an auction site

If you’re fed up with the per-transaction final value fees you’re paying on an auction site, you may be thinking of also starting an online store. On your own website you are in control – you set the rules, you decide the products that are listed, and you keep the profits. But what will you need to do differently in running your own shopping cart website to make your online store a success?

With auction sites steadily increasing fees and online competition growing, many new and experienced online sellers are thinking of starting online stores to expand their horizons and spread their sources of new customers – as not all online sales will come through the auction site channel.

What makes an online store successful?

The stores that succeed the most when moving from an auction site to an online store are the ones that recognise that the focus on marketing is one of the essential things that you must do differently. In an auction site, the auction platform markets itself strongly to potential buyers so there is generally a steady stream of buyers looking to purchase things and listing items is a often matter of adding titles that include the words that they are searching for and then making sure that the listing is complete enough to make the sale. There is often little loyalty amongst buyers so prices tend to vary considerably and be quite competitive. And when you make a sale, the auction platform takes a cut of your sale price (and in some cases of your postage fees as well). This means that there is a steady stream of potential buyers but if you get the right words and have the right offering you will generally get the sales. But you pay for it, sometimes dearly.
With your own online shop website, there’s no auction platform to tell you what your policies must be or how many products you are allowed to list in a month. But it’s your responsibility to get the traffic to your site. Google is generally the target source of new customers for many businesses but it will take a lot of hard work to get to the front page of Google (in spite of what some search engine marketing companies or freelance contractors might tell you). With a good plan and a bit of dedication it’s definitely possible to achieve.
As someone already selling on an auction website, you do have an active set of potential buyers at your disposal however – your existing auction customers.

How to convert auction customers to website customers?

What are some of the ways that you can convert your potential auction-site customers into website customers? Auction sites won’t allow you to directly target buyers through their own systems, but one way you can market to these customers is through inserting a flyer into their auction-site orders. But what will you offer them to switch?
  • Offer them a discount to buy from your website next time, e.g., spend over $50 on our site and get 20% off your order.
  • Start a VIP club with special discounts or product offers.
  • Offer better service on your website e.g. Express Post versus standard post on your website.
  • Offer different payment methods not offered through the auction site – e.g., Australian credit card payment gateway services like SecurePay or eWAY.
  • Use buy-together discounts (e.g., buy a shirt and pants together and get a discount on the two products together).
  • Use a special discount coupon for your auction-site buyers (you can track take-up through this option).
  • Offer a coupon for free shipping for your auction-site buyers valid for their first order through your site.
These are just some of the things that you can do. Not every promotion needs to be price based, but customers coming from auction-sites might be more price sensitive than others just because that’s the environment that they’ve been accustomed to buying in. Many Australians have Facebook so allowing them to log in to your site through their Facebook account is another way that you can break down the barriers to getting them to buy from you.
If price-based discounts are the method you want to go with, then remember that you will have room to move on prices if you need to because you won’t be paying final-value fees to your auction platform provider.

Getting new customers

To expand your horizons beyond converting your existing auction-site customers to website buyers, you will need to have a good focus on search engine marketing and other forms of online marketing. Some of the things you can do are:
  • Make sure that your home page title and description accurately match up with the most important search phrase for people finding your website (this is called “Keyword optimisation” in search engine marketing speak)
  • Make sure that your product titles match up with the words that people mostly use to search that product. Don’t rely on manufacturer titles and descriptions unless your target customers are experienced buyers and likely to be searching for the product by name
  • Consider taking advantage of shopping comparison websites like GetPrice and These sites charge you every time someone clicks through to your website but can generate quite a lot of interest. You use the data feeds capability of your shopping cart website to generate a list of your products and photos that appear on the listing website.
  • Consider using Pay Per Click Advertising like Google AdWords advertising – Google Ads sit on the right hand side of searches and are starting to appear more often on mobile phones as well. When customers click through on the advertisement you are charged based on what you bid for the ad – the more you bid the more prominent your advertisement is. Google Ads are a great way of getting exposure but for some highly competitive terms can be very expensive.
  • Take advantage of social media like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram – social media are a powerful force for driving traffic to your site and building up a loyal following
There are many strategies that you can use for generating traffic and as long as you have a good marketing plan and a realistic understanding of the competitive nature of online sales you can set a great platform to do very well moving from an auction-site to your own ecommerce store with shopping cart.
Getting Started
First you need the right shopping cart platform so you hit the ground running.  With Ozcart, you get the shopping cart platform hosted on our servers, with Australian email-based technical support 7 days a week, and many Australian-specific ecommerce features. With our standard approach,  you choose one of our pre-made ecommerce web designs and we then personalise that design for your brand.
There’s just one up-front payment to make and for that you get a lot:
  • We build your Ozcart website using the base layout you choose from our ecommerce layouts collection
  • We change the colours and graphics of the chosen design for your business brand – we’ll insert your logo and business name, insert your ABN into the footer and invoices, and design up to 3 home page slideshow slides as well as 2 inner page mini-banners for use in columns (to promote things like free shipping or a special offer).
  • We can load your footer links for you, and create placeholder pages for you to fill in the information
  • We can load 10 sample products (without options) using your real photos, descriptions and prices if these are provided
  • Installation of your Ozcart website on our servers and configuration of the environment for Australian business
  • You get a private SSL certificate for your domain to encrypt communications on your checkout and admin area free for the first year
    We can optionally load the top level category and subcategory structure for you so you can just add your products. We load up to 30 categories and subcategories when we build
  • We can optionally configure 5 shipping and 5 payment options for your store
  • If you want to bulk-import your products, you can use a spreadsheet “CSV” file to import your products into your store
  • You pay your first month’s secure hosting and support up front, and then just pay from month to month based on the package you choose.
Ozcart is a great value package for anyone starting an online store and will help you get started faster as we’ll do some of the work! Try out our shopping cart demo today if you’re ready to expand your horizons from an auction-site to your own website.


Ozcart Ecommerce

Ozcart has been in business since 2006 and is an online, hosted shopping cart that you can use for your current or new online store. We offer so many features for the same low price. In fact, we are addicted to adding new ones to ensure that we remain one of the best choices for a shopping cart.

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