Online Marketplace or Brand Website: Where Should We Buy Things From

Photo by Yan Krukov

The online mode of buying and selling has now become the order of the day. With billions of shoppers worldwide, there are generally two different ways people get to buy things: the online marketplace or the brand website. Online marketplaces are websites that sell almost anything you need. They link buyers and sellers together and make profits by charging the sellers a fee.

On the other hand, brand websites sell only the products of a single brand and are usually the best source to get any product associated with that brand. These two selling sources have become the norm in the online eCommerce structure. This has birthed the question: which of these two should you buy from?

To know which of these platforms is safer, you have to know how each works.

How does the Online Marketplace Work

An online marketplace simply serves as a hosting platform where buyers can connect with various sellers for various products. Many brands have their own online stores, while there are also retailers and people looking to sell used or refurbished items.

These online marketplaces allow sellers to receive payment from buyers and provide buyers with information about the shipping of their ordered product.

There are mainly three types of marketplaces:

  • Vertical marketplaces serve a particular niche. They are renowned for what they sell. A good example of this is Etsy.
  • Horizontal marketplaces sell different types of products, but these products have a common characteristic. For example, some sites sell impounded or confiscated goods.
  • Global marketplaces sell every type of product. You can find almost anything on these types of marketplaces. Examples include Amazon and eBay.

Most of these online marketplaces charge sellers a particular commission whenever they make a sale to make profits. Some could also charge listing fees depending on the number of products listed the seller has on their site. Sites like eBay also allow buyers to bid on some products (the highest bidder gets to pay).

While these sites are so useful, some risks come with them. For example, some sellers are there for fraudulent means. Also, some sellers could deliver products in bad condition, and getting them returned could become a hassle. If you want to avoid getting scammed on these sites, you should read this to the end.
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How do Brand Websites Work

Brand websites are more established sources to get the products of a particular brand. They are either built by the technical teams of the brands or use third-party website-building services (such as Shopify, Shoplazza, Wix, etc.).

However, products could be on the higher side on these sites. Also, depending on how large the brand is, the chance of getting scammed is incredibly slim.

However, you should always watch out for shady sites. For example, a website with an expired certificate (an exclamation mark instead of a padlock in front of the site address) is a red flag. You should also confirm the physical addresses of these sites if they have one.

How to NOT Get Scammed When Buying Online

Getting scammed when making a purchase could leave you with a negative attitude towards online shopping. To avoid scams on any online platform, here are some tips to follow:

1. Check the Comments Section of the Seller’s Page

A great way to find out about the products or services of a seller is by checking the comments section of their page. The reviews and comments give you a good judgment of the seller's legitimacy. This would be available either on an online marketplace or brand website.

2. Check the Rating

This tip is geared towards online marketplaces. Most online marketplaces allow buyers to rate sellers 1–5 stars. The number of ratings and overall ratings a seller has gives you an idea of the quality of their products or services.

3. Make Sure You’re on the Right Site

Some fraudsters could set up look-alikes of some brands to scam unsuspecting online buyers. Make sure the site you’re buying from is the right one. You could Google the site before making the purchase. Google would display the authentic website at the top of the search results.
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Conclusion: Which Should You Buy From

In actuality, both have their advantages. On online marketplaces, you can find the best discounts and find various sellers offering various services. Also, you could find used products in good condition for reduced prices. You could also get free shipping more regularly on these eCommerce sites. However, you could also get bad products delivered at times.

For brand websites, you’re sure you’re purchasing high-quality products right from the source. However, the fees charged could be high. Also, there’s a higher level of assurance that comes with buying here.

In my opinion, I don’t think any are better. In fact, many of these brands have official stores on these online marketplaces. So, you just need to find which one works best for you.

In most cases, buying things online does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. So, you’ll just have to discern which of both options works for whatever purchase you wish to make. Keep an eye out for any red flags, and you’ll get your purchases without any hassle.

(Contributed by Oluwafemi Adedeji & Hermes Fang)

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6 years experience in digital marketing. A gracious loser, not a lousy winner.


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