3rd Party Platforms Vs. Your Own Ecommerce Website

Rebecca Minkoff website
Rebecca Minkoff website

When it comes to selling your products online, it’s usually easier and cheaper to work with a 3rd party platform.  That way you don’t have to invest in an expensive website, figure out how to accept payments, or deal with many of the other headaches often associated with online sales.  Here’s the thing…it’s not a good idea.  

OK, I’ll rephrase. It’s not a good idea to make a 3rd party platform your only means of selling online

Why selling on your own website is a better option:

  • You’re creating a following and driving traffic to your website, not someone else’s
  • You have complete control of all the marketing efforts that involve your brand
  • You can make sure that your customers have the best shopping experience possible
  • You don’t rely on anyone else to make sure your business is running.  Think about this for a second…

If you rely 100% on a 3rd party for any part of your business, you are leaving your business open to changes at the whim of the 3rd party.

You’re building a business on something that someone else owns. If for any reason they decide to close up shop, drop you, or change course, there’s nothing you can do about it.

You wouldn’t put all of your marketing efforts into Facebook and Facebook only, would you?  I hope not.  Because if you’re not building your marketing in other areas, your business is at the mercy of Facebook.  It’s no different when it comes to your selling platform.  Don’t rely solely on anyone.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever use another online platform for selling your products, just make sure that you’re doing in addition to your own ecommerce website.

Once you’ve got your own site all set up and going, if you do decide to sell on another website keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure the platform compliments the aesthetic of your brand
  • Do your research to see whether or not the platform has an engaged customer base; do they share, leave reviews, recommend, etc.
  • Sign up for their mailing list to confirm that they do great email marketing
  • Follow all their social platforms to see if they understand smart social media marketing

Remember, once you’re selling on a platform, your brand becomes associated with that platform and all its properties in the eyes of the customer. Spend time on creating your website and its ecommerce component before deciding to sell on someone else’s.

Do you sell on any 3rd party platforms?  What’s your experience been like?


Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

  1. tulsi hemrajani

    Hi Nicole,

    I have a query . Which would be a better option between choosing to build your own website by a 3rd party website builder or getting your website built by websites like goDaddy and bluehost. Like considering the fact that I am just starting my eCommerce Business.

    Waiting for your reply eagerly.

    • Nicole Giordano

      Hi Tulsi. You want to hire a website designer, not a just a company (like GoDaddy) that builds basic websites. You need your brand represented properly.

  2. tony

    Ty nicole for this great Post its helpful. Ive found Having a website is great. And everyone should have one. To brand themself. But 3rd party sites help alot as well. You pay them a small fee they do the seo and marketing needed to get traffic. Which isn’t so easy when doing it yourself. From experience ide say doing lots of research first and know what ur getting into will help bigtime. Lots of people get so excited about having a website they forget about most important thing seo and marketing which is an easy way to fail.

  3. Cynthia

    Thank you. I think its great that your giving much needed advice to those that are looking for some guidance and to just get their foot in the door. Kudos to you. You’re standing on a platform that allows you the opportunity to help us out and its appreciated.

  4. Cynthia

    This was very insightful as I have been involved in the past with 3d party affiliates. It didnt work out for me but I the key here is to really do your research and most importantly do not be afraid to ask questions. It is your creativity– you want to watch over it like a mother hen looking after her chicks.

  5. Lisa Osborne

    I am very new to this business and have a wonderful design that there are none out there is there any way I can set up a meeting to talk to you?

    thank you

  6. Nikki

    Agreed. 🙂

    A strong tone of voice through branding or with an online presence is a great place to start and makes it much easier for 3rd parties to support designers properly.

    We tailor all of our support towards each of our designers and really try and get under the brands skin.

  7. Nikki


    I actually work for a brilliant 3rd party platform that supports emerging designers.
    I’m not here to do the hard sell, just to fight the other corner and say there are some great platforms out there if you spend time looking for the right one.

    We have a programme in place that massively supports our sellers through marketing and PR and an existing loyal customer base.

    Equally, I’m sure there are sites out there that don’t live up to their promises, but don’t be put off 🙂


    • Nicole Giordano

      Thanks for your comment, Nikki!

      We completely agree. It’s not about ruling out 3rd party platforms all together, but it’s about making sure that, as a designer, you have you’re own branding and e-commerce figured out first. Then, do your research and partner with 3rd parties that complement your brand.

  8. Lara Miller

    Yes! Couldn’t agree more although I would say that as a designer I would expect the 3rd party to do a majority of the marketing too.

  9. Lara Miller

    Thank you for posting! I agree. The more we can spread out distribution the better. Our own websites are the most important, but then wholesale, direct to consumer either through events or studio sales, and 3rd party dropship websites and/or affiliate sales all seem to be a good mix. My problem with the later is that I seem to get an email a week from a new site asking to join their designer program & pitching why I should work with them. It all feels really “salesy” and hard to trust. Are there any sites that you would recommend? I loved working with smashingdarling.com back in the day. I’m working on an app for discovering and eventually purchasing great designers, http://www.purelyapp.com but I want to make sure we go about working with designers in the best way possible. Thank you!!

    • Nicole Giordano

      Hey Lara! Thanks for the comment.

      To be honest, the feedback we’ve heard from a lot of designers is negative, so we won’t name any names in terms of platforms. 🙂 However, we will say that the reason for the negative feedback has been over promising and under delivering in terms of marketing and reach on the part of the platform.

      With that said, the issue is also that designers tend to think that none of the marketing/promoting work falls on them once they sign on with a platform. Which of course, is silly.

      Just like any other brand, if a third party platform takes the time to build a following prior to launch, by properly utilizing social media and email capture through anticipation, launch will be a successful event for both the platform and the designers who are on it.

      Otherwise, it takes time to build a community and so expectations of both the designer and the seller need to be managed.

      Hope that helps!

  10. Bree

    Great advice! I work with a few artisans, and several have told me that Etsy in particular can be brutal in shutting down sellers, even those who have great feedback and hundreds (or more) sales transactions. It doesn’t take much for a 3rd party to turn the lights off over something silly, and you lose all of the hard earned reputation and steady sales you’ve come to rely upon from that source in an instant.

  11. Jade

    Great advice. I’ve been trying to decide if I really wanted to set up a store on a 3rd party platform. This helped me make up my mind.

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