Before the internet, thus the ability to search for products on Google, or market on social media, newspapers and garage sales were the closest thing the general public had to a marketplace. Now, technology offers an outlet in which we can sell and promote our products, without owning a storefront.
In this post, we’ll highlight the best online selling sites for small businesses.
eCommerce has completely changed the game, leveled the playing field, and opened the door for small vendors to succeed in the marketplace. And, we’ve done the digging for you.
Regardless of your objective or what you’re selling, there’s a sales platform available to meet your needs.
Ready to start moving your product?
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
- eCommerce Ready Platforms
- Selling on Shopify
- Alternatives to Shopify
- Online Marketplace
- Where to Sell Handmade Items
- Websites to Sell Stuff Locally
- Facebook MarketPlace
- Should You Create Your Own Online Selling Site?
- There’s an Online Selling Site for Everyone
Here are the options for selling online and top online selling sites:
Sell Online With eCommerce Ready Platforms
Building your own eCommerce store will come with challenges, especially if you aren’t tech-savvy. However, this option can be extremely profitable, if done correctly.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome with this option is that you have to market yourself and generate traffic to your own selling site.
However, with a little help of a professional SEO agency, you can expedite this process. Hiring a reputable marketing team can help you develop quality traffic that lasts long-term.
The advantage of designing your own sales site is that the profits are yours. For the most part, there isn’t a large chunk taken out of your budget each month to cover transaction or listing costs.
Selling Sites: Shopify
If you’re looking to DIY your own site to sell products, right now, Shopify is the easiest to use, as well as the most trusted.
Here’s a few staggering statistics about Shopify:
- There are more than 800,000 stores through Shopify
- In 2019, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales brought in 1.5 Billion dollars for Shopify stores
- Shopify has paid over $850,000 to resolve security issues
Online Selling Sites: Alternatives to Selling Online with Shopify
Just because Shopify has become a household name in the online selling sites industry, that doesn’t mean it’s the only one available. Hundreds of various selling platforms exist, each with their own unique feature sets, pricing, and appeals.
With the variety of several Shopify alternatives available for small businesses, we know the task of choosing one for your business can be daunting.
Here’s a list of the top 10 Shopify alternatives to sell your products online:
These “sell anything” style marketplaces are certainly the most well-known selling sites for business. Most can accommodate just about anything you choose to sell (assuming that it is legal).
With Amazon, you’re opting into a very large marketplace that a lot of buyers trust. However, the massive customer base comes with its own drawbacks–higher fees and more competition.
When selling on Amazon, you should maintain the thought process of “I’m getting a smaller piece of a bigger pie.” Your piece may be small, in relation to the whole pie, but as a whole, the pie is much larger than normal. So, you’re still getting a good amount.
The overwhelming number of people looking to buy on Amazon, is certainly a plus. Also, like many other online selling sites, Amazon uses an algorithm that will recommend your products to those who may be interested in them, based on search history.
Almost anyone, selling almost anything, should be able to run a business on Amazon. You just need to make sure that your prices are competitive enough to be a contender. If you’re running a small business, you may find this challenging, since others can distribute in bulk.
We’ll go over several online selling sites, so sit tight, small business owners!
The OG of online selling platforms, Ebay, has been around since 1995! There’s no need to deny the power of selling on Ebay, seriously.
However, you should be aware of the selling fees (that only continue to rise). Ebay charges a non-refundable fee to list an item. They then charge a non-refundable fee to insert the same product in another category. Once the item sells, they impose a “final value fee”. This is essentially Ebay’s commission based on the selling price, as well as the shipping price. These fees will vary based on your product, its category, how many categories it’s listed in, and shipping.
Both Ebay’s seller base and customer base is comparable to Amazon, but customers trust Ebay less than they do Amazon.
Also, Ebay is known for its “bargains”. Typically, customers browsing this selling site are looking for great deals. So, you’ll have a lot of competition, paired with a low profit margin on Ebay.
This fast-growing online selling marketplace is relatively new to the e-commerce industry. However, it hosts over 22 million items, and this number is exploding rapidly. Possibly because Bonanza is one of the easiest selling platforms to use.
Bonanza is similar to Amazon and Ebay, where the sky’s the limit to what you can sell. And, according to Bonanza, items that are quirky or unique tend to sell better. In fact, their slogan is “Find everything but the ordinary.” So, if you’re a super niche business, this may be just the online selling site for you!
Also, Bonanza doesn’t make money until the seller does. For this reason, you’ll see much higher profit margins. It’s free to list items, and the average fee per sale is as little as 3.5%, which is considerably less than Amazon and Ebay.
Although Bonanza’s monthly traffic is lower than Ebay’s and certainly Amazon’s, the ratio of shoppers to sellers on the platform is much higher: 1,300 to 1 on Bonanza, versus 10 to 1 on Ebay.
This means much less competition as a seller, and more chances for buyers to actually see your products–perfect for small businesses!
Online Selling Sites: Where to Sell Handmade Items
For those of you looking to turn your hobby into a business, you can certainly make money when you sell your handmade items online.
People love unique, handmade products and crafts.
Since the explosion of ecommerce, crafters all over the world are setting up their own online shops to sell handmade items. They’re making good money doing so, too.
Learning how to transform your love of crafts into a money-making business can be a bit tricky, but these online selling sites for crafters should help you get started!
The Etsy platform caters to a much more niche market than Ebay or Amazon, or even Bonanza. It’s a tried and true, well-known online selling site, except it’s targeted to those looking for handmade items.
Etsy’s seller fees are seriously the most simple and straightforward, out of all the selling websites we’ve come across. The platform charges 20 cents per listing. When you sell an item, Etsy imposes a 5% transaction fee, a 3% plus 25 cent processing fee. These fees, although they seem small, can definitely add up, if you aren’t taking them into account when pricing your items.
Etsy is one of the most well known and respected online selling websites for crafters. Their straightforward fees, ease of use, and good standing with the online selling population makes the platform one of the best online selling sites for crafters.
Another good site to sell crafts is Artfire. This platform specializes in both handmade and vintage goods. It also has a good number of digital media art and craft supplies.
One characteristic unique to Artfire is that there’s no ads on shops or listings. This can be either a pro or a con. It’s certainly a pro for new business owners looking to sell online, that simply don’t have the budget for paid ads. It takes that aspect of competition away, for free.
On the flip side, if you wanted to invest in Artfire ads to jumpstart your online selling business, you don’t have the opportunity to do so. However, you can always talk to a PPC agency about getting search ads directed to your link.
Unlike Etsy, Artfire does charge a monthly fee to keep your shop open. Although this isn’t a reason to use the platform, it does instill a confidence to buyers that the online business they’re purchasing from is likely here to stay.
Online Selling Sites: Websites to Sell Stuff Locally
These are similar to the “sell anything” online marketplace sites. If you’re simply trying to sell old, used stuff, trying to de-clutter your home, or if you don’t want to manage shipping, a local marketplace may be a good option for you.
Most of these are free to use, but aren’t quite as professional, if you will, as the other online selling sites we’ve mentioned.
Proceed with caution.
This online selling platform was introduced in October of 2016, by Facebook.
Facebook Marketplace aims to bring people in communities together to both buy and sell.
One exciting aspect of Facebook Marketplace is that they’re slowly starting to support eCommerce merchants, as well.
There aren’t any listing fees, but Marketplace enforces strict requirements and guidelines in order to remain a merchant there.
This platform is more or less a forum, targeted to merchants and buyers.
The major downside of Craigslist is there’s not much, if any, rule enforcement. Rampant scams frequently appear, and both sellers and buyers operate in a very “high risk” environment.
If something goes wrong, you’re on your own.
This platform is best suited for those who choose to buy and sell in person.
Should You Create Your Own Online Selling Site for Your Business?
Honestly, the best website to sell products is going to be one that you own and operate. Sure, you can maintain the listing on the platforms we’ve listed above. But, having a website that you own means that you keep all the proceeds. No middleman.
Here’s a few tips on how to get started:
Start with a Business Plan for Selling Online
The old saying “ a goal without a plan is just a wish”, holds true. You’ll need to plan before you jump in, feet first, here.
You’ve gotten a taste of what you should consider, just by reading this post!
You should also consider things like:
- How much time does it take to produce or maintain each item/service?
- What’s your break even price?
- How much does each item cost to make or buy?
- Are you going to offer wholesale? If so, do you have enough profit margin to accommodate that?
Start Building Your Online Store
Once you’ve nailed down your plan, you can now start the process of creating your online store.
Purchase a Domain Name
You’ll want to start with purchasing a domain name. The most simple way to do this is through GoDaddy.
Choose an Online Store Builder for eCommerce
Next, you’ll choose an online store builder. You’ll want to choose one that has eCommerce functionality.
What does eCommerce functionality include?
An eCommerce website:
- Gives customers payment options,
- Includes a shopping cart with which customers can buy items,
- Has an SSL certificate,
- Comes with shipping options built in (or available through an app), and
- Is mobile-friendly.
For WordPress users (our preferred platform), there are plugins that will quickly turn your existing website into an eCommerce site.
For more information, check out our post: Website Design Best Practices.
But, if you’ve never built a website before and aren’t very tech-savvy, you may want to hire a professional website developer to do the heavy lifting on your behalf.
Add Photos, Text, and Products
At this point, you’re on the home stretch. You’ll want to be sure you include killer listing pages with the best pictures to showcase your products or services.
The goal is obviously to get your audience to click the buy button. What we, in the digital marketing world, call “a conversion”.
Attract Customers with Social Networking and SEO
Once you’ve built your online store, you’ll need to bring people to it. Then, you’ll also need to convert them from “lurkers” to buyers!
The easiest way to start is with a social media campaign. Even if you just start with one network, you need to stay active, stay posting, and respond to anyone who mentions your business.
Not sure which social media network to post on?
Our post, the top social media sites for business can help.
One good way to do this is to work keywords into your text. This helps the search engines understand what your website and pages are all about.
However, simply adding in keywords isn’t going to help much, if you don’t understand how search engine optimization works.
We provide an entire post dedicated to what an seo company does, if you’re interested in growing organic traffic for your online selling site.
There’s an Online Selling Site for Everyone
Whether you want to clean out clutter, expand your brick and mortar retail store, or are looking to break into the eCommerce scene, you can find an online selling site that works for your business! No matter what you’re selling, you have several platform options right at your fingertips.
Where you choose to sell your product online is completely up to you. While the huge reach and broad appeal of sites like Amazon and Ebay make them the obvious choice for some, those who are looking to actually grow their businesses may want to look elsewhere.
If you’re beyond the point of huge fees and feel as if your business would do better on its own domain, give us a call!
We offer free proposals and can help you map out the best plan of action for your growing business.