Do you have a product or a line of products you want to sell? There was a time when you had limited options on ways to sell your product. You could walk door to door like the vacuum cleaner sales representatives of yesteryear, you could put ads out in magazines or newspapers, you could set up a billboard advertising a product, or you could have a brick-and-mortar store only or in conjunction with the other methods listed. Now there’s a better way: you can sell products online!
Nowadays, however, there are plenty of different ways to sell products online, thanks to the expansive diversity of the Internet. Sellers with a physical store location or simply a basement full of products have many choices on how to sell products online to the consuming public.
Create Your Own E-Commerce Website (Online Store)
This method was most popular in the early days of the Internet mainly because it was the only option! In this scenario, you build your own website or have it built for you, and then you must find and set up your own hosting and domain. For some, that seems like a piece of cake. But for others, learning Chinese would be a more appealing option.
Depending on how much you do yourself, building your own e-commerce store takes planning, knowledge, and often money. There is much to consider when choosing this method. You’ll need a layout that will display your products, you’ll need transaction software that will handle the money, and you’ll need content for the different pages and products you’ll be selling. You’ll also have to market your product, so the purchasing market knows you and your store exist.
The benefits of owning your own e-commerce store are that you have complete control of all that happens, and you don’t have to pay any transaction or selling fees to anyone.
Places Where You Can Sell Products Online
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of setting everything up yourself, you can go to other platforms where most of the work has been done for you. You’re essentially using a template, and you have to add your own colors, photos, and products so you can set up and start using your own e-commerce store. Of course, you’ll pay a fee, but you won’t have to worry about anything but getting your product inventory ready to sell. Below are some of the more popular choices of e-commerce stores.
It’s probably no surprise that Amazon is the largest e-commerce site in the world. The Seattle company was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos and was initially just an online bookstore. Now they sell almost anything with a few clicks of the keyboard, and they have become a trusted place to safely purchase items and receive them quickly.
The pricing structure at Amazon has the individual plan which charges $.99 per unit sold, while the professional plan costs $39.99 per month regardless of how many units you sell. There are also referral fees between 8% and 15%, fulfillment fees if you don’t fulfill your orders (you can use Amazon’s fulfillment program), and other costs including long-term storage, advertising, or premium account services.
Currently, Shopify’s basic fee (Basic Shopify) is $29 per month and includes a website, blog, certificates, cart abandonment recovery, unlimited products, 24/7 support, social media sales channels, discount codes, and more. You can upgrade from Basic Shopify to Shopify for $79/month or Advanced Shopify for $299/month. The advanced packages offer reports, calculate shipping rates, and other perks.
Amazon and Shopify are similar in that they both require monthly subscriptions and offer a variety of tools and resources. The major difference is that Shopify is an e-commerce platform where you have your own online store, while Amazon allows you to sell through its marketplace next to other sellers.
Shopify is considered one of the top methods of selling online in terms of ease-of-use and trustworthiness.
eBay has established itself as a powerhouse e-commerce shopping platform. Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, it was one of the original e-commerce platforms that really grew and took off with the public. eBay is slightly different in that it is an online auction website that also offers shopping.
Sellers (businesses or individuals) on eBay can offer almost anything to sell, including goods and services. The products can be new or used, and they can be auctioned or sold at a set price. Buyers use the site for free, while sellers are charged for selling items and for listing them after a certain number of free listings are used up.
Craigslist is an online e-commerce platform that is basically an American website where people list almost any product or service in an advertisement. Started in 1995 and available in 70 countries, Craigslist was founded by Craig Newmark.
Most postings on Craigslist for free, but some do charge fees. The ones that charge include job posting in certain areas of the US, some rental properties in Boston, Chicago, and New York City, and there are certain fees charged in Canada.
The most significant difference in Craigslist compared to other e-commerce platforms is that the seller and buyer usually meet in person to exchange a product for money. At times, there have been scans involved in addition to occasional violence. Craigslist recommends meeting buyers in public places, and many police stations offer a “safe haven” to conduct in-person sales. One favorable aspect of Craigslist is that the transaction is simple and does not involve packing or shipping, and most deals involve cash.
Facebook Marketplace can be accessed by clicking on an icon at the top of your Facebook page. When you see an item you like, you message the seller an offer or a question about the product. Almost anything can be sold on this platform. While it is mostly local, products can really come from anywhere. You can get a used bicycle from the other side of town, or a brand-new inflatable pool for your backyard from a business in California.
Like Craigslist, this type of transaction requires an in-person meeting, so a public meeting place is recommended. Unlike Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace seems safer because it’s pretty clear the owner of a Facebook page is selling a product. Facebook has monetized Marketplace with ads from users and brands, but it is free to post items for sale.
Ruby Lane is an online selling site where you can buy or sell vintage and antique items. The fee to set up a shop includes a one-time fee of $100 in addition to $69 per month to have a shop consisting of 80 items less. That fee changes depending on the number of items you list.
Etsy is the premier place to sell handmade goods, antiques, collectibles, and art. They charge $.20 to list each item, and it remains in your shop for four months or until the product is purchased. When you sell products online on Etsy, the seller is charged a 5% transaction fee in addition to a processing fee of 3% plus $.25.
This is an e-commerce site launched in 2008 and is a popular site among those who know about it. Not nearly as large as Amazon and Shopify, Bonanza is continuously growing and becoming a popular site to sell almost anything. Their fee structure is slightly complicated but is considered minimal. Setting up shop in Bonanza is easy, and fees are only paid when a sale is made.
While there are many other e-commerce sites and marketplaces available on the Internet, these are some of the most popular. If you have a product or a line of products to sell, consider what each of these platforms has to offer and choose which one is right for your business.
If you need a loan to get started for any of these online businesses, give us a call at Affinity Beyond Capital at (833) 234-6489. One of our expert lending professionals will help you find whatever type of loan you need.