6 Places to Sell Your Products Online. What’s Best for Your Business?

8 min read
Jonny Pathan
An Open sign in a shop window

When your business relies on selling your product or service online, there are quite a few e-commerce platforms to choose from. Not all of them will be the right fit for your online business though, that’s why we’ve put down what’s on offer and what’s a good fit for your business.

Thanks to the internet, the lack of a physical shop is no longer a barrier to retail victory. Adventurous retailers can take advantage of various online marketplaces to sell their products.

By determining the right market for your products, and bypassing those with substantial fees or obligations, you can look to grow your online store strategically, and successfully.

1. Your own website

Selling through your own Website puts everything in one place

Website Ecommerce Page
The Chickidee ecommerce website

Pros: When you sell products online through your own ecommerce website you will full control over the design and layout of your site, and important elements such as navigation, and product categories.

You can navigate users as you wish to encourage them to buy more, increasing your online revenue.

You’ll have to pay credit card processing fees to accept payments with your chosen payment gateway, but you won’t have to pay transaction or sellers fees like you will on marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, which means your 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. P.s We are a Shopify partner 😉

Cons: Setting up a website will likely incur an initial cost to, and/or a monthly 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 a small business or 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 you would otherwise find navigating sites such as eBay and Amazon. Your audience simply will not know about your site. This means you will have to work on increasing your reach through Digital Marketing strategies.

2. eBay

eBay can help you access a big market, instantly

eBay Homepage
eBay, a major player in online retail

eBay’s been running since 1995, and they sure do know what they’re doing. They also boast having over 24 million users, which is a huge market to tap into.

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.

3. Amazon

Amazon is one of the biggest players

Amazon Homepage

Started in 1994, Amazon has become ubiquitous with anything to do with online shopping. Apparently the ship over 1,600,000 packages a day!

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 goods 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. Selling on Amazon can become quite technical too, with heavy product-specific requirements required from the retailer.

4. Etsy

Etsy is a sanctuary for like-minded creatives

Etsy Homepage
Etsy is a sanctuary for like-minded creatives

Etsy feels like a newcomer compared to eBay and Amazon, but it’s worth noting they’ve been at it since 2005, which as of writing makes them 13 years old. As of 2014, they had 19.8 million active buyers, which is not to be sniffed at.

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.

5. Facebook

Facebook Marketplace harnesses Facebook’s global reach

Facebook Shopping
Facebook, a massive potential reach of customers

Relatively new, but worth looking into. As imagined, Facebook has one of the biggest communities in the world. Worldwide, there are over 2.20 billion monthly active Facebook users. A huge potential 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.

6. Google Shopping

Google Shopping piggybacks on the success of the search function

Google Shopping Example
Google Shopping piggybacks on the success of the search function

This isn’t a shop as such but piggybacks off of your own website. Displaying your products across the largest search engine in the world? Yes, please.

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 means 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 few of these options works out best, especially if your focus is on volume of sales in a short time. Depending on your long-term goals, it’s worth checking out each option in detail.

There are of course other platforms worth considering, such as Shopify (a great e-commerce platform), BigCommerce and VTEX to name a few.

To learn more about how to get the most out of these platforms and to build a website of your own, get in touch with us today.

Useful links

Get a head start in ecommerce by checking out some of our previous insights below.

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I have a product. Now what?

After weeks, months, maybe even years of research and development, you’ve finally done it: you’ve created an amazing new product.

At least to you and your supporters, your product is amazing. But how do you convey that to the general public? And how are you supposed to get that product to sell?

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How to nail Product Descriptions for Ecommerce

Writing product descriptions is time-consuming, laborious, and often dull if you have more than a handful of products.

But here’s the thing.

Having excellent descriptions is a must! It saves you time, money, and numerous potential headaches.

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eCommerce in 2017: Thinking like an influencer

eCommerce is rapidly changing; retailers are capturing more consumer data and insight, so that customer journeys can be personalised according to the platform or device someone’s using and their online behaviours. Whereas selling started out as designing a product and bringing it to market, learning more about customers means that the focus has flipped.

We now see more and more audiences being built and nurtured – working out what to sell to them is coming afterwards.

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How Great UX Design Can Increase Website Conversions

Ahh, the holy grail of websites. Conversions. If you’re looking to increase your website conversions, you need to make your website easy to use. Sounds stupidly simple right? Well, you’d be amazed at how often the user experience is overlooked and how often it’s not ‘great’.

Here are some simple steps to make sure you’re on the right track.

Adventurous retailers can take advantage of various online marketplaces to sell their products. By determining the right market for your products, and bypassing those with substantial fees or obligations, you can look to grow your online store strategically, and successfully.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.

Remember

Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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