You have a huge number of options for places to sell online. Where should you even start? There are actually just a few that stand out as the best in terms of support, price, and customers — although which is right for your business will depend on the type of products you sell. The first thing you need to decide, though, is whether you want to create your own store or use an online marketplace.
Creating Your Own Store
By creating your own store, you’ll include ecommerce on your website. This involves more effort than listing products on an online marketplace, but it gives you much more control over your customer data and branding.
The most popular option to create an ecommerce store is Shopify. Prices start at $29 a month for a website with a blog. You’ll gain a free SSL certificate, have the chance to provide customers with discount codes and gift cards, and be able to link to four physical locations — retail stores, warehouses, popups, and other places where you store your products. Shopify also gives you an abandoned cart recovery feature, fraud analysis, and a shipping discount of up to 74 percent for DHL, UPS, and the USPS.
There are additional costs to be aware of if you choose Shopify. Online credit card processing incurs a 2.9-percent fee plus 30¢ and in-person credit cards have a 2.7-percent fee. Plus, if you use anything other than Shopify Payments, you’ll pay a 2-percent fee. The good news, though, is you can sell in 133 currencies and list in up to five languages.
If you want additional features, such as professional reports, international domains and pricing, and a fifth physical location, there’s an option to pay $79 a month.
One of the top hosted website builders is Squarespace. Not only is it a good option for regular websites, it’s also a great choice for building a dedicated ecommerce store. Although you’ll use a template, you’ll have plenty of choice as to how you want your ecommerce store to look and feel to make it match your brand image. You’ll upload your items to a catalog, which makes it easy to track inventory and market products.
Prices at Squarespace start at $26 a month for a website with an ecommerce site. This gives you features like customer accounts, a checkout within your website, and the chance to list products on Instagram. If you pay for the entire year, you’ll receive a 13 percent discount and a free custom domain. Upgrade to the advanced commerce plan for $40 a month and you’ll gain additional features like abandoned cart recovery, subscriptions, and advanced shipping to calculate real-time rates.
If you want to make a large ecommerce store, BigCommerce could be your top option. It’s one of the more scalable platforms and has a huge number of sales tools that you may need as your business grows. The downside is BigCommerce is more difficult to set up than Shopify and Squarespace. You may find you need to outsource the task of building your store to someone with experience using the platform.
Plans at BigCommerce start at $29.95 a month, with a 15-day free trial available before you pay. There are no transaction fees, but you’ll pay 2.9 percent plus 30¢ when you receive payment from credit cards via PayPal.
The standard plan on BigCommerce allows you to sell up to $50,000 a year, receive 24/7 support, and add as many staff accounts to your store as you like. The platform integrates with the most popular payment gateways and point-of-sales providers as well as many social media platforms and ecommerce platforms like Amazon and eBay. Upgrade to the $79.95-a-month plan and you’ll receive all the same, but you’ll be able to sell up to $180,000 a year. You’ll also receive features like customer groups and segmentation, persistent cart, and the capability to store credit cards.
Best Online Marketplaces
Listing products on an online marketplace rather than through your own store means you can start immediately. Setting up a store is fast and easy — although you should bear in mind that the costs will be higher in the long run, as the platform will take a percentage of your sales. Since it’s possible to sell both through your own store and through online marketplaces at the same time, it may be worthwhile to list on a marketplace straight away while you work on building your ecommerce store.
The largest online marketplace is Amazon. For many consumers, this is the go-to place for ecommerce, meaning you are likely to reach your customers and new consumers will be confident buying from you. There is also the advantage that you can send products to Amazon warehouses for fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which means there’s no need to deal with shipping yourself. A final advantage is there are few restrictions as to what you can sell.
You can sign up to be a seller on Amazon in a couple different ways. The first is to become an individual seller, which gives you a free account, but you’ll pay 99¢ for each item you sell. The second option is to become an individual seller, which costs $39.99 a month and eliminates the 99¢ fee per item.
Whichever account type you choose, you’ll also pay a referral fee of between 6 and 51 percent (for most product categories, it’s around 15 percent), with a minimum fee of 30¢. In addition, some product categories incur a $1.80 closing fee. It’s important to calculate how much you can expect to pay in these various fees before you choose Amazon to ensure you’ll make a profit.
Another one of the best-known online marketplaces is eBay. However, this is slightly less trusted than Amazon because many of the sellers are individuals rather than businesses. Nonetheless, eBay is still a great option, especially if you want to use auction selling — this can be ideal for one-of-a-kind items where it’s more up to buyers how much a product is worth.
The fees are more straightforward on eBay than Amazon, although there are no standard fees — it again depends on the product category. For most items, you’ll pay between 10 and 12 percent of the sale price. In addition, after you’ve listed 200 items in one month, you’ll need to pay an insertion fee of 35¢ per listing. Auctions have some additional costs and you can also pay to promote your products.
If your business sells handmade products, vintage items, or craft supplies, Etsy is a great option. Shoppers head to Etsy specifically for these kinds of items — unique products, collectibles, and antiques are particularly popular. The marketplace offers various advertising features to promote your listings both on the platform and offsite.
The downside of Etsy is its fees are quite high. It costs 20¢ to list an item and then you only have four months to sell it (you can automatically renew unsold items). You’ll also need to pay a transaction of 5 percent and a fee for using Etsy Payments, which is 3 percent plus 25¢ in the U.S. but up to 6.5 percent in other countries.
7. Ruby Lane
Another platform ideal for antiques and collectibles, but also jewelry and art, is Ruby Lane. Sellers consistently give the marketplace high ratings, due to its commitment to removing fakes and reproductions, its excellent customer service, and its success in attracting buyers who are willing to pay for quality products.
Unlike many other marketplaces, the fee structure for Ruby Lane is simple. There are no listing fees — you just pay $54 a month for up to 50 items and then between 1¢ and 30¢ for every additional item. There is also a 6.7-percent service fee on total purchase orders, but this is capped at $250.
It’s worth selling on Bonanza because the platform syncs with other marketplaces, like eBay and Amazon. If you already have a store on one of these ecommerce sites, you can quickly add your products into your Bonanza Webstore. Plus, you can customize the look of your store without any coding and advertise your products without any knowledge of Google Ads, as Bonanza will walk you through the steps to optimize bids for Google Shopping. You can sell all types of products on Bonanza, but fashion, items for the home, and collectibles are especially popular.
Bonanza charges 3.5 percent of the final sale price — the price of the product plus shipping — with a minimum of 50¢ per product. Any items you sell for more than $500 incur an additional 1.5 percent fee on the amount over $500. There are no other fees.
Setting up an online store is only the start of running an ecommerce business. You’ll need to invest a large amount of time and effort into maintaining your store, uploading or updating products, and communicating with customers. A virtual assistant from MYVA360 can help with all this — plus our extended team can even build you an ecommerce store for your website.