Online selling has changed the way we approach a business and garage sales. In 2020, over two billion people will be shopping online, online retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. The market is massive, and the opportunities available to an online seller are ripe for plucking.
Whether you are a brick-and-mortar shop owner or a hobbyist looking to sell your unused kitchen equipment – there’s always a sales channel out there that’s a perfect fit for you.
For selling all sorts of goods:
- Facebook Marketplace
For selling collectibles, arts & fashion items:
- Ruby Lane
For selling online courses & digital goods
Online Store *
For building your own online store
- Adobe Commerce (Magento)
- Wix Stores
* Listed above are the tools you can use to build your online store.
Each of the available online platforms has much to offer. Some are more suited towards specific forms of presentation or products. Others, like Shopify, present a more unified approach and cover everything in running a professional online store.
If you're trying to decide on what works best for you, here are the best four places to sell your stuffs. We will dive into the ins and outs of each platforms below.
1. Your Own Online Store
The best place to sell your goods is your own online store.
Selling directly from your online store is akin to having your own brick-and-mortar shop. You have absolute control and get to decide how you want your shop to to be and when you want to extend it. More importantly, you are selling directly to your customers, without any middleman profiting from your sales.
That said, you are responsible for making the necessary improvements and fixing anything that breaks. It’s a little challenging, but all the tools and techniques for it are publicly available.
But How do You Build an Online Store?
In the old days, to build and own an online store means that you need to develop an eCommerce site and host it on your own VPS or dedicated hosting. The process is do-able but requires certain level of technical knowledge and skills.
Take Shopify for example – the great thing about Shopify is that you don’t need to have prior coding skills and dig deep into your pocket to have an online store.
Shopify comes with many templates and designs. All you need to do is select and install a theme that will form the structure of your online store. These are primarily mobile responsive, which is essential in this time and age; your customers can comfortably view your online store via mobile devices.
In short, you can have your online store up and running in a short time at an affordable price – it is that good!
We covered step-by-step on how to create an online store using Shopify in this tutorial.
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eBay is one of the oldest online marketplace that allow users to setup their own “online garage stores” to sell their stuffs. The website eBay.com has been around since 1995. Currently, eBay boasts an approximate 1.5 billion product listings, 159 million active buyers worldwide, and 19 million sellers.
Side Note: What is an Online Marketplace?
An online marketplace is a third-party service that allows businesses of many different sellers to sell their products online. Some allow selling products from across all categories, whereas others are more niche and focus on specific industries only like fashion.
There are tons of online marketplaces available, and the best part is that you don’t have to stick to a single one. You don’t need to establish yourself on all of them, though. Sell smart and pick a few that fit your brand. Some popular choices are Amazon and eBay.
Why Sell Your Stuffs eBay?
There’s no denying the power of eBay selling; it can make a convenient place to sell your stuffs or an excellent additional sales channel for businesses. You can sell almost anything on eBay. However, pay attention to their selling fees. There are two main fees – an insertion fee when you create a listing and a final value fee when your item sells.
The item's price, the format and category you choose for your listing, any optional listing upgrades you add, and your seller conduct and performance determine the final fees you have to pay eBay.
If you have more than 250 items per month, you’ll start paying a $0.35 insertion fee per listing. When your listed stuff sells, eBay keeps a portion of the sale; this final value fee for most categories is 12.55% of the sale price or lower plus $0.30 per order.
If eBay manages your payments, this fee is calculated as a percentage of the total amount of the sale, plus $0.30 per order. Their cut is pretty steep, and customers don’t have to pay immediately either, so the bidding aspect can be frustrating.
Founded in 1994, Amazon is a trusted, go-to website for anyone who wants to buy anything at all. Amazon claims that from 2019, small and medium-sized businesses sell over 4,000 items a minute in the USA alone.
Also, people have come to trust Amazon, and they shop comfortably, trusting in the things they buy on its marketplace. Amazon is known to vet sellers and remove counterfeit products. They can also deliver items fast, in as little as one day (in certain areas) via Amazon Prime.
Why Sell on Amazon?
They have more than 200 million members in its Prime membership program worldwide, a huge increase from the 150 million figure in January 2020. It is no wonder that Amazon is the preferred platform for sellers; there are so many perks.
Having a massive active and built-in audience, sellers can immediately tap into this already existing market. However, this comes at a higher price.
There are two types of selling plans: the ‘Individual’ plan that costs $0.99 per unit sold and the ‘Professional’ plan that costs $39.99 per month no matter how many units you sell. The Professional plan qualifies you for top placement on product detail pages and other advanced features.
There’s also a referral fee charged for each item sold, and the amount depends on the product category; most are between 8% and 15%. The cost to ship your orders depends on whether you choose to fulfill your orders or use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). There may also be additional costs that you’ll need to explore further with Amazon.
Etsy has been in the business since 2005. Statista confirmed that there were more than 4.3 million sellers in 2020. It’s a solid figure that cannot be sniffed at and makes it a lucrative platform for online selling. Etsy leans towards a niche market compared to eBay or Amazon.
Why Sell on Etsy?
Seller fees are pretty reasonable; Etsy charges $0.20 for each item you list. All listings will expire after four months. Upon a successful sale, Etsy will charge a transaction fee of 5% of the listing price plus the amount you charge for delivery and gift wrapping. Please check for any additional fees.
Etsy is fantastic for start-ups selling niche products. You’ll also get access to an active buyer base and tools to help market your business on the platform. However, you’ll still have to share a cut of your profit with them.
Online Store vs. Online Marketplace
Most online marketplaces can get you onboard fast, with zero setup costs as they charge based on sales made. However, as a seller, you may feel restricted when wanting to see the desired results in the long run.
On the other hand, an online store requires more investment and may take more time to set up. However, this depends on the building platform you end up using. Shopify offers reasonable rates, and you can remove any additional payment fees if you use Shopify Payments (available in certain countries).
Having an online store as a centralized point helps heaps when controlling inventory and standardizing customers’ shopping experience. That said, generating leads and converting them into sales require much effort and time.
Omnichannel for the Win
The best is to take a hybrid approach. Selling on online marketplaces is an excellent way to generate revenue and build your brand while you work towards driving traffic to your online store. Increasing your customer count can be gradually done.
Get your online marketplace customers to visit your online store via referral and discount codes. Promote your online store to your online marketplace customers to establish a loyal customer base and direct traffic to your store.
Bear in mind that it’s not an ‘either or’ question when it comes to online stores and online marketplaces; it’s always about managing both to increase sales and profit to benefit your business.
No matter what your objective is or what you’re selling, there is a sales channel out there that's perfect for you. The most crucial realization, though, is that many online sales platform won’t be mutually exclusive. You can sell on multiple places and in various ways – you just need to find the right combination.