When your business relies on selling your products online, there are quite a few e-commerce platforms to choose from. Not all of them will be the right fit for your business though, that’s why we’ve put down what’s on offer and what’s a good fit for your business.
Your own website
Selling through your own Website puts everything in one place
Pros: When you sell through your own website you will full control over the design and layout of your site. You can navigate users as you wish to encourage them to buy more, increasing your online revenue.
You’ll have to pay card processing fees with your chosen payment gateway, but you wont have to pay transaction or sellers fees like you will on marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, which means you margins are not being hit – that means more profit.
Although building the exact website you have in mind may require some outside help from website developers, you can utilise platforms like Shopify, to make setting up your online shop much easier.
Cons: Setting up a website will likely incur an initial cost to, and/or an on-going fee. Depending on your requirements, this cost can be kept to a minimum, but may mean you are not able to utilise all of the features to get the most sales possible.
If your brand is not yet established with high numbers of social media followers or monthly searches, you will not have access to the same number of buyers which would otherwise find navigating sites such as eBay and Amazon. Your audience simply won’t know about your site. This means you will have to work on increasing your reach through Digital Marketing strategies.
eBay can help you access a big market, instantly
Pros: This is one of the big boys and eBay’s marketplace is massive. You can easily sell to anywhere in the world and the open platform nature of the site means that you can pretty much sell anything too. So, even if you still feel like a local, inexperienced startup, you can start with a global outreach immediately.
Cons: eBay is super competitive. It hosts so many different sellers that it can be hard to cut through the busy marketplace and make sales. It also takes 10% of whatever you make which, as you know, can make a big difference to your profits when you’re just starting out.
Customers don’t have to pay immediately either, so the bidding aspect of eBay can be frustrating.
Amazon is one of the biggest players
Pros: Even though you’re selling through a third-party platform, selling through a massive brand like Amazon gives your product a stamp of approval and trustworthiness that can be difficult to achieve instantly on your own. To the user, the product listings make it look as if all good are being sold by Amazon. It doesn’t have the auction set-up of eBay so it’s a more traditional retail experience.
Cons: Like eBay, Amazon will take a cut of your profits and you’ll have to pay a monthly listing fee if you’re selling in high quantities.
Etsy is a sanctuary for like-minded creatives
Pros: Etsy is a great platform for start-ups selling niche products that appeal to customers interested in vintage, quirky or hand-made items. They’ve recently started selling digital services too like web design. Etsy is a haven for the creative-minded and the platform allows you to personalise your listings more.
Cons: Again, you’ll be giving away some of your profits to Etsy in their listing and final sale fees, but if customers are paying through PayPal, you’ll have their fees to take into account too.
Facebook Marketplace harnesses Facebook’s global reach
Pros: This platform is effective for start-ups that want to concentrate on selling in their local community. People already buy and sell on Facebook by joining groups and Facebook Marketplace has created functionality to allow this to be done from one place.
It doesn’t charge for listings and the default setting is for members of the local community to see products first.
Cons: Facebook Marketplace doesn’t offer protection for either buyer or seller and it also leaves most of the work to you. It’s more of a venue for selling, instead of a platform that helps you to sort out the finer details of a sale.
Google Shopping piggybacks on the success of the search function
Pros: Google Shopping Ads pop up when users search for products and they can be a great way to promote products.
They have good click-through-rates, strong visibility when people search with their mobile, their adverts are visual and attention-grabbing, they’re automatically updated when you make changes and you’ll have access to data to help you analyse how things are going.
Cons: You will need your own website for this to work, but it integrates with most of the basic website builders to make things easier.
You will pay per click. This mean that each time someone clicks on your Google Shopping ad, you pay a small charge (anything from £0.50 and above). This is an attractive price, but doesn’t guarantee a sale, of course.
It can be quite labour intensive when you’re initially creating Google Shopping campaigns and you’ll need a bit of knowledge to help maximise your selling potential.
What are you going to choose?
It may be that a mixture of a couple of these options works out best, especially if your focus is on volume of sales in a short time.