Selling products online is old hash, even for small businesses. Everyone knows you can do it, and it seems like there are new services and marketplaces popping up every day that give you more options.
So with this buffet of options at your disposal, which e-commerce platform(s) are the best for your product? Not all of them serve the same selection of patrons. Choosing to use the platforms which have audiences that most overlap with your target clientele can get you a lot more business than simply throwing your products onto any old online store.
Below you can read up on some of the most popular options for selling products online, and what kind of customers they tend to serve.
The largest benefit to selling an item on Amazon is its reach: there are 300 million Amazon users worldwide, many based in the US, and of those US users over 80% buy on Amazon at least once per month. If you are looking to simply get your product in front of as many people as possible, regardless of their demographics or interests, then Amazon is your best bet.
Of course, being on a platform that attracts virtually every kind of person has some downsides, namely the level of competition on Amazon’s digital shelves. Everyone and their mother sells on Amazon, so the odds that your product will be displayed over a similar product in any given search results depends a lot on your product’s popularity and quality of reviews. If your product is just starting out, you’ve got a lot of work to do.
If Amazon is where millions of people look for ordinary goods, Bonanza is where thousands of people look for “everything but the ordinary.” Fashion, health, beauty, and collectibles are some of the most popular items on Bonanza, which charges sellers a 3.5% fee on most sales.
Bonanza has some benefits available, such as automatically creating listings, but the drawbacks are clear: a lack of popularity on the level of an Amazon or similar platform means that it has to be a great fit for your goods to be worth using.
eBay has about 167 million active users, second only to Amazon on this list. That means the reach is fantastic, but not very focused, and there is a lot of competition for the top spot in search results.
eBay has a rather steep fee structure, charging 10% of the total sale value for most items, with additional fees for high-volume storefronts. If you are going to be shipping internationally often, eBay has programs to mediate the cost and time involved.
Etsy is a platform for creatives, and those who want to buy their work. It hosts millions of products, and close to a million sellers at once. It is a fast-growing platform that has a custom, artistic niche. Despite its popularity, you don’t have to worry about your product competing with big brand names like you would on Amazon or eBay.
Etsy charges a fee of 3.5% of the sales price on most items, after the $0.20 charge per listing. If your products are more about function than design, Etsy probably isn’t the place for your stuff.
Shopify is perhaps the best connected e-commerce tool on this list, allowing you to offer your products on your own webstore, on the Facebook Shop, on Amazon, and more. If you are looking to quickly expand your online business, then Shopify provides multiple channels through which to do so as you grow, even offering a Point of Sale system if you have a retail location.
Online store pricing begins at $29 a month, not including the additional fees for using third-party payment options or their standard credit card processing fees. Packages that include gift-cards, better reporting options, and lower credit card fees per transaction can range from $79 to $299 per month (plus fees).
Squarespace is a website platform that “backed into” being a place for e-commerce. Your online store comes mobile-optimized, capable of showing high-resolution images, and can even contain embedded video for each product. Similar to Shopify, Squarespace does not have its own marketplace. You either have to connect to another one, such as Amazon, or hope that your web traffic is enough to drive sales.
The online shop pricing at Squarespace is $26 a month for the basic package, and $40 a month for the advanced package which includes additional services, such as gift-cards.
Last on this list is the “e-learning” platform Udemy. Udemy users make free accounts and then buy digital courses (usually video guides and lectures) which they then have permanent access to. The courses range from exercise to design to business and beyond. If you are looking to monetize your knowledge and teaching ability, then Udemy is probably the prefered place to do e-commerce for you.
It’s free to create a Udemy “instructor” account, but Udemy does take a percentage of your sales revenue. There isn’t any real “storefront” for your content. Instead, potential buyers search for courses by category in the overall marketplace, so optimizing your course titles and descriptions to match searches, and getting a lot of good reviews as quickly as possible, is one of the key ways to sell successfully on Udemy.