In an increasingly digital-age it’s very rare for those with a physical product or high street presence, to not take advantage of the many channels there are to sell online. Selling a product online allows you to reach a wider audience and new customer pockets, with 41% of the world’s global internet users purchasing products online in 2014. But if it’s an area you’ve never explored, it can be overwhelming.
Where and how to sell your product online?
Firstly, there is no shortage of places to sell your product. The difficulty is choosing which ones suit your brand and will enhance the offering you may or may not already have. When choosing a physical shop presence, your first thought would be to find the location best for attracting potential customers. The same is true for online. Here is one of the top tier levels to consider before you begin looking at the many platforms available:
Hosted vs self-hosted ecommerce solutions
If you want to set up a full website where people can come to view your products and your products only (as opposed to a marketplace such as Amazon Flipkart or eBay), then you’ll need to choose between a hosted or self-hosted ecommerce platform.
A common analogy used to understand the difference between self-hosted and hosted ecommerce solutions is the difference between buying and renting a house. When you rent a house (hosted), you are tied to the wishes of the landlord. You can live there, but you probably can’t paint or make physical changes to the look and feel of the property. If the landlord decides to sell up or change the property, you could lose access or be forced to leave. The benefits of renting a house however, are that you can test the water before you decide to buy and you can change houses with minimal fuss or cost.
In comparison, your own house (self-hosted) means you have the freedom and benefit of choosing exactly how you want your house to look, where it is and how quickly you want to extend or build on what you have. However, having your own house is also expensive and means that you are liable for making improvements and fixing anything that breaks.
Selling products on eBay
Ebay is an ‘anything goes’ type of marketplace, where you can find everything from vintage tables, through to hair extensions. If you can sell it, it can go on Ebay. This makes it an open platform for any type of online business but does make it slightly more difficult to cut through the noise and reach a specific audience. Ebay will also allow you to sell across the world, allowing you to expand your popularity worldwide. However, as well as being fiercely competitive, eBay will take 10% of any sales you make, which for most businesses, can seriously lower the profit margin. This can make it more expensive than selling through your own online site, especially if you’re working with more expensive items. Due to eBay’s bidding nature, the buyer is also not required to pay instantly, which can lead to wasted time and annoyance when you have to relist or resell an item.
Using Amazon as your online marketplace
Selling through Amazon gives your product a level of authenticity which many shop owners spend years trying to build. This is because the products look and feel like ‘Amazon products’ to the user, even when they are being sold through a third-party such as yourself. The fees on Amazon can be more or less than other sites, depending on if you are selling high-quantities, where you will pay a flat listing fee per month, as well as a fee based on the variable rate of what is being sold. Generally, Amazon is chosen by most sellers as a leading place to sell products, particularly for electronics, books, DVDs and similar.
Selling products on Essy
Etsy is a dedicated marketplace suited to a niche group of users, primarily those who like to buy vintage or handmade items, although it has more recently extended its offering into digital products such as website themes and custom-design services. Due to its nature, Etsy buyers often have more cash to spend and it can be a gold-mine if your product fits the target audience (hint: cat related swag does particularly well). Whereas eBay has a fairly impersonal feel, Etsy is more easily personalised and can allow a seller to setup products without any background knowledge or technical experience which can in turn, make their offering more appealing to the customer. The downside of Etsy is that as well as listing and final sale fees (as seen on all marketplaces), you also have PayPal fees to contend with, which can subtract money from the total profit.
Other Ecommerce Marketplace Options:
There are various other marketplaces and stockist websites which can help your product to be seen. Regardless of what you are selling, there is likely to be a niche marketplace or stockist out there to suit and can lead to more success than selling on Amazon or eBay alone. This includes ASOS Marketplace for those selling fashion, Feel Unique and Cult Beauty for skincare products and Not on the Highstreet and Handpicked Collection for unique items, often sold as gifts.
When it comes to selling your product online, the choices are endless. The real detail is in making a choice that suits you, your offering and your customer and then building it from the ground up into an online shop front that you’ll be proud to call your own.
How do you sell products online?
If you are interested in selling products online, we suggest the following steps to increase your chances of success. It is rare that you will find any easy product to sell. It takes work both pre and post-launch to successfully sell products online.
- Do market research.
- Finalize products to sell.
- Choose which platforms to sell on such as your own online store, Amazon, eBay, Facebook and other sites customers buy from.
- Market to your potential customers to drive traffic to product listings.
Where can I sell my products?
For many B2C ecommerce merchants, branded stores, along with Amazon and eBay account for over 90% of all sales. Below are several places to sell your products online:
- Your own branded store.
- Google Shopping.
- Affiliate sites.
- Other top E-commerce Platform
How do you start selling on Amazon?
- Decide what you want to sell.
- Choose either the Professional plan (sell an unlimited number of products)
- Register and start listing products.
- Improve product visibility on Amazon.
- Drive traffic to your products.
After we will list your products, customers will be able to purchase them on Amazon.com. However, you need to be strategic about helping customers find your products. We suggest improving visibility of your products with tactics such as an Amazon SEO strategy. We also recommend reading The Definitive Guide to Selling on Amazon for more ideas to help you start selling on Amazon.
Manufacturing vs. Dropshipping
Your product supplier plays a large role in your business operations and costs, so it’s imperative to figure out where you will source your products before making a final decision on what to sell.
You don’t want to launch your business and realize your products are hard to come by. You also don’t want to get up and running and realize the manufacturing cost of your product results in virtually no profit margin for you.
Most retailers choose to either source a manufacturer or work with a dropshipper, each with their owns pros and cons:
|Pros and Cons||Manufacturing||Dropshipping|
|What is it? (Manufacturing vs. Dropshipping options.)||Working with a manufacturer to create specific products for your store.||Purchasing someone else’s products and selling them through your own store,
relying on them to also fulfill orders for you.