Marketplaces like Bonanza is a common platform most people would go to when they want to sell something online – for obvious reason. This site is estimated to receive about 10 million unique visitors on a monthly basis, so that’s a lot of potential customers we are talking about. In this review, I am going to dig into the cost of selling and give you some perspective in regards to the pros and cons of using this marketplace.
Let’s get into the details, shall we?
What Does Bonanza Offer Sellers
Before you can sell, you need to list your products first and there are two ways to go about this.
The most basic setup is called a booth which has specific subsections for categorizing products, seller profiles, contact information and so on – all in one page. Basically, when someone is interested in your products, the booth is likely the page that they will click to get more information.
The Cost – Setting up a booth is free and there are no fees involved in listing the products which are randomly featured on the Bonanza marketplace. However, 3.5% will be deducted from the final price as a fee when you make a sale.
The Pros – Bonanza’s fee per sale is one of the lowest when compared to selling on eBay or Amazon that charge between 10% to 15%. Meanwhile, the free setup allows newbies to try out basic online store features without any upfront cost.
The Cons – Technically, the booth is a subdomain hosted within the marketplace. That means, although it may display your name, you aren’t really the owner and Bonanza reserves the right to do whatever they want with the booth in the future. Plus, subdomains don’t usually show up on the search engines so the only organic traffic that you’ll be getting are those that visit the marketplace.
The problem is, with thousands of sellers online, it will be very difficult to get the customer’s attention. In the home decor department, for example, the listings for each subcategory is in the hundreds. Do you think that your products have the chance to stand out with that kind of numbers?
The booth is clearly catered for a beginner, but if you want to have a bit more branding, that’s where the next level comes in.
Setting up a an online store is very much like building a website, except that it is hosted with Bonanza and uses their publishing platform. Typically, this site has a dedicated page for eCommerce, can be customized and comes with a custom domain.
The Cost – The fee for creating a store online is $25/month and if you subscribe for a year, it will be $255 plus a free domain.
The Pros – Like most website builders, the online store is fairly easy to set up – no technical knowledge is required. When you sell something through this channel, you get to keep 100% of the sales profit. Since it also comes with an SSL certificate, customers will feel more secure to buy from your site.
Whatever products that are sold through the store, get listed from the marketplace as well. So that gives you more traffic exposure.
The Cons – But there’s a bit of difficulty when it comes to driving traffic to your web store and this problem has a lot to do with what platform is used to publish the site. If you have any experience using simple website builders, you’ll know that their features are quite limited.
The web store only consists of a few pages (no blogging feature) and there are only 10 theme designs to choose from in which the Bonanza logo will appear in the footer. A website that only focus on listing products is known to have a thin content (too many images and very little textual information) in the eyes of the search engines. In case you don’t know, thin sites generally don’t rank well because the search engines have difficulty ‘reading’ what their content is all about.
In order to get good rankings for online stores, there’s a need to understand some basic keyword research and the type of keywords to target for your site and products. This guideline, however, isn’t provided in their knowledge base.
Instead, you are encouraged to use an in-house feature called Web Broadcaster to drive traffic to your store, which is basically an advertising strategy. Don’t get me wrong – targeted traffic isn’t a bad thing, but it involves spending money before making any sale. I’ll explain more about this in the following section.
Traffic is crucial to selling things successfully online and in a huge marketplace, you can’t just rely on organic (aka natural) traffic. Targeted traffic is key and Bonanza offers you a few ways to acquire them.
1) Membership Plan
For booth owners, there are several membership plans. Among the benefits that you’ll get are more page views to your products within the marketplace, Google Analytic tracking, sponsored search and so on. There are generally 5 plans to choose from, each varies according to the frequency of page views.
- Silver – $20/month or $12/month (annual plan)
- Gold – $40/month or $25/month (annual plan)
- Platinum – $70/month or $55/month (annual plan)
- Titan – $200/month or $167/month (annual plan)
- Titan Ad Pro – $300/month or $250 (annual plan)
If you are aiming to sell to the US market, which consists of about 70% of the traffic, these plans will certainly boost your product exposure and make it stand out from the competitors. With the use of Google Analytics, you can analyze the visitors and customized the booth settings to improve sales conversion.
The downside here is probably the substantial fee itself and this expenditure needs to be justified with your ROI. No matter how convincing the pageview is, you need to realize that the exposure only benefits your presence within the marketplace, not in the search engines that actually carry a larger proportion of visitors.
2) Advertising Program
So, if you are aiming for bigger traffic source, that’s where the advertising program comes in. How this works is that Bonanza will pay for ad clicks to bring shoppers to your booth. When a sale is made, you’ll pay a certain amount of advertising fee.
Bonanza partners with a few channels and to leverage from those traffic sources, you can choose from any of the four advertising offers below;
- Basic (9%) – access to Google Shopping, network of affiliate bloggers, and Bonanza promotional emails.
- Standard (13%) – all in the Basic, plus adding your products to eBay.
- Superior (19%) – access to all shopping channels, plus Bing Ads.
- Elite (30%) – access to all the shopping channels, plus assigning your products at higher ad spend.
Obviously, you’ll get more exposure to targeted traffic across various channels. The program is also flexible so you can sign up, opt-out, or adjust the advertising level at any time. Alternatively, you can just stick to the standard 3.5% that brings in organic traffic.
Honestly, I don’t know how effective are their ad campaigns, as I haven’t seen any product search linked to the Bonanza’s marketplace through those shopping channels. Each of them also has different requirements when it comes to product listings and is subjected to approval before they can be posted online. This is to ensure that the items are optimized so that they can sell faster when promoted. So you have to be nitty-gritty about the product details here.
3) Web Broadcaster
This is another method used by Bonanza to drive targeted traffic specifically to web stores (not booth). What this does is that it takes active product listings and send them as ads to Google Shopping. When a shopper clicks on the ad, it will bring them to your website.
You don’t need in-depth knowledge about advertising as Bonanza has a tool that can convert products easily to ads. You can also control how much budget you want to spend on the ads so that’s more flexible than the fixed rates.
At the moment, this feature only publishes items to Google Shopping feeds in the United States.
My Thoughts on Bonanza’s Marketing System
From a setup point of view, Bonanza seems like a good alternative to places like Etsy or eBay. They don’t have massive traffic like the bigger guys, but it is still a valid traffic source nevertheless. When it comes to product promotion, advertising is clearly the preferred way, whether it’s within the marketplace or reaching out to the search engines.
But many beginners jump into advertising too soon without knowing the bigger picture of online selling;
- Do you know that only 20% of users will click on ad placements? Most people ignore them because one, people are immune to it in the online world and two, consumers nowadays are more focused on researching information before buying something.
- Ads can be an expensive investment over a period of time, so unless your product is selling for a minimal $50+, with good demand, I don’t see how you can break even with all these plans and programs AND still make a good profit from it.
- Google Analytics is a great tool and it can offer many intricate data about your business, but it’s also a free program that can be easily integrated from the beginning if you build an online store with WordPress.
- When it comes to advertising, it makes a huge difference if you know what’s going on behind the scenes. What keywords do you want to target for your products? What’s the bidding price for those keywords? These are important questions to ask and it’s not a simple task that you can just pass or pay someone to do it, hoping that you’ll get massive traffic overnight.
- Ads aren’t the equation for profit. It merely brings in targeted traffic and the way you present the products is what will make the ads convert.
- With all the plans and programs, one huge feature is missing and that’s called Google Search Console. This is also another free software that can be used to track your visitors, granted you know what keyword research is all about. Hint – here’s where you are missing out on the 80% of users who are searching for product information.
- Bonanza’s tagline is “Find Everything But The Ordinary” and that’s going to make you feel like you are offering something unique to the marketplace, right? Well, the bad news is, it has also become a platform choice for mass producers and drop shippers. This type of competition is going to push small scale business and handmade sellers to the edge because you wouldn’t stand a chance in terms of product volume and varieties.
So much for the benefits of advertising, uh?
Well, I hope this review on Bonanza Marketplace has given you a good perspective on what’s like to sell on a (crowded) marketplace. If you are truly interested in building your own brand and engage with your customers, the best way to achieve this is through a custom business website.
For more information and training on this, please check out my recommended online platform here and I’ll personally walk you through the process.
Question – Have you used Bonanza as a seller or shopper before? Please share your experience in the comment below so we can all have a better insight.