Thanks to the advent of the internet, small business owners have expanded their reach. You can increase your profits by selling your products online.
There are tons of websites that all advertise that they are the best place to sell your products. But you might still be wondering which site is right for your business. Which sites are reputable? What are the pros and cons of the largest selling communities online?
Even if you also have a storefront, focusing some of your resources on establishing a way for customers to buy your product via a website is a smart move. There are tons of customers that might be looking for a product just like yours! So read ahead for the pros and cons of the most popular online venues for product sales.
Although it started out as an online bookstore, Amazon is now one of the giants of online commerce. This website is the first place many people search before buying a product online. With the purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon has established itself as a one-stop-shop for anything a customer could ever imagine.
Extremely organized interface
Offers a huge variety of products, so it’s likely your product will fit in
Lots of people use Amazon, with Amazon Prime alone boasting 80 million members
Recommends similar products to customers that select an item
Different fee/commission plans for different seller needs
Amazon fulfillment program offers shipping assistance for sellers
Amazon provides customer service
Most plans do call for some fees or a monthly membership charge
Large market means your prices must be extremely competitive
If you enroll and the fulfillment program and your product doesn’t sell, you could owe fees
Some location restrictions exist
You do not control customer service
Lack of ability to brand your listings
The first and best auction site on the internet, Ebay has a long history as a seller’s marketplace. Ebay now offers both auctions and a “buy-it-now” feature that mimics the set-price sale of other marketplaces.
Auction feature, which could drive up the sales price
Very established process of bidding
Products can be sold anywhere on the planet
Buy-it-now options are expanding, bringing in new types of customers
Fees, which depend upon the type of seller or product
Few seller protections, with the company resolving most disputes in favor of the buyer
There is generally a cost to list, even if product doesn’t sell
Mainly an auction site (might not be ideal for non-auction items)
Launched in 2005, Etsy has quickly become the darling of the arts and crafts industry. Etsy specializes in vintage goods, as well as art supplies and handcrafted pieces. If your goods fall into this niche, you may want to further explore this marketplace.
Great for made-to-order items
Customers usually have a discerning eye
Eclectic community that highlights the uniqueness of their sellers
Ability to make connections with your customers
Only suited for handmade or vintage goods
Fees ($.20 per item, 3.5% commission)
Smaller than some of the top online marketplaces
Many imposters are flocking to the site to sell mass-produced goods, which is effecting customer confidence
Thanks to the enterprising Craig Newmark, Craigslist is now one of the most well-known sites geared towards buying and selling online. Started in 1995 as a simple email distribution list, Craigslist still maintains a very minimalistic look and feel. There are no frills here. If you need simple and cheap, Craigslist might be the ideal choice for your business.
Anonymous, which may be ideal if you are very concerned with privacy
Only local postings are welcome, so you have to opportunity to build a customer base in your area
Wide variety of items
Incredibly basic interface which might repel certain customers
No customer support for buyers, so you must resolve any disputes yourself
Some business owners may not prefer to manage individual clients via masked emails
Location restricted, as you cannot sell nationwide
Your own store
There’s always the more intensive option of creating your own online store with a personalized web address. Of course, this requires you to build (or hire someone to build) a website. After accomplishing that, you’d need to design the online store to your specifications. Then you could do the work of launching the store on your own, or hire someone to do that for you.
No competition on the site
You can organize the store any way you wish
No middleman, so you can change product details at any time
You control fees by selecting your own host/credit card processing company
Web inventory will be up to date with your local records since you control both
You’re responsible for driving traffic to the site
No support (except for support offered by any vendors you use to set up your site)
You are responsible for building all aspects of the store
All customer disputes must be resolved by your business
Some customers may be wary of entrusting financial information to an unknown website
As you can see, there are many options for you to choose from if you’ve decided to take advantage of the online marketplace. Take into consideration the pros and cons of each venue, and then jump right in!
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