Finding customers online is different from finding them in person. That’s why choosing a good online marketplace is a vital decision for any ecommerce brand.
Unsurprisingly, as ecommerce has grown, so has the number of available sites and platforms for conducting business online. Savvy business owners can take advantage of the many options and find an online marketplace that optimizes their impact, reach, and, of course, sales.
Let’s take a look at what online marketplaces are and how you can use them to increase sales and raise your bottom line.
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What are online marketplaces and platforms?
Simply put, online selling platforms are websites where people can sell goods or services. Some platforms specialize in or are better for certain products.
For example, Etsy is well known for handmade items and digital crafting patterns. If you want to sell IT services, that platform might not be the right choice for your business. So, it’s important to know what each platform is good at and choose one that will optimize your business’s reach.
How are online marketplaces different from direct-to-consumer sales?
Direct-to-consumer and in-person sales are different, but they can definitely complement each other. If you sell clothing and someone buys from you in person, they might find your store online and buy more there. Likewise, each kind of marketing has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Direct-to-consumer sales mean you are working directly with the customer, so you get 100% of the profits. It can also be easier to build relationships and rapport with people through direct sales. However, DTC can limit the growth and reach of your brand.
When selling through online selling sites, it can be hard to build relationships with leads. This is especially true if you, or your audience, are used to traditional business models. But, selling products online allows for more growth and the potential to reach a larger audience that isn’t limited by physical location. When you move your business online, you have the ability to gain millions of new customers. It’s just up to you to reach them and put your products where they can find them.
Why sell products online?
The main goal of selling products through an online selling site is the same as it is for any business- to make money. That said, there are plenty of other perks to selling products through a web-based platform.
Selling online can help eCommerce companies develop brand recognition and, with it, loyal customers. It can also help businesses find more leads which can lead to long-term, stable growth. Depending on what kind of product or service you are offering, it can also automate or speed up sales so you have more time to spend doing the things you love.
How to get started selling products online
While it isn’t simple, it can be easy to fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis. The key to getting started is simply to pick a product, pick a platform, and get started.
With so many options things can start to feel overwhelming, but don’t worry. Your business doesn’t need to be everywhere at once. The key is to pick a platform where you can thrive. Let’s take a look at some popular options and what sort of products they work best for.
Top online marketplaces and platforms in the U.S.
Here are some of the most popular online selling platforms:
Let’s take a close look at these options and what each one has to offer.
Amazon is one of the most popular options for selling products online, which is no surprise since it’s a household name. No other platform has brand recognition and trust like Amazon does. Because of this, many people opt to sell their products on this trusted platform. In fact, Amazon ships around 1.6 million packages each day.
Another part of the reason that Amazon is a popular option is that it is known for vetting sellers and ruthlessly removing fake products. That said, one of the downfalls of this site is that most people go there looking for a deal. If you sell a premium product it might not sell as well.
How much it costs to sell your products on this site depends on a few variables. For starters, sellers have to pick a selling plan that can cost 99 cents per product or $39.99 per month. There are also different fees for various categories of products. Then there is an additional 8% to 15% for Amazon’s referral fee. On top of that, you might need to pay for shipping or other additional costs. The platform has a handy pricing sheet so you get an idea of what things will cost before you get started.
eBay is another well-known platform that has a big audience. This platform allows people to sell anything from NFTs to real estate. There is even a category for “everything else” which has an even more interesting subcategory of “weird stuff.” Needless to say, there is something for everyone.
This platform is best suited to uncommon or unusual listings that might not fit into other platforms. Since it is a catch-all, it could also be a good spot for people who want to offer their services online.
The biggest drawback to this platform is the lack of customer trust. Since almost anything can be listed, the platform has a reputation for fake products or cons. Many people also go to eBay to find gently used or otherwise cheap products.
On eBay, there are flat fees, called insertion fees, for each product listing. Additionally, each category has a different final value fee amount. The site also increased their pricing in March 2022 and might do so again in the future. Check their fee list for updates on the cost of your specific products.
Etsy is most often used for handmade goods. It can also be used to sell software, designs, or patterns. In theory, anything sold on this platform should be made by the seller or some sort of small business. But, in actuality, Etsy is used to sell a wide variety of goods and services.
Still, handmade or vintage items tend to sell best since that’s what people expect from the platform. It’s also a good site for high-quality or luxury goods since that’s what many buyers expect.
There were around 96.3 million buyers on Etsy in 2021. So, the platform is a great opportunity to get your products or services out to a wider audience. Because of how established it is, Etsy is a great option for people who are new to online selling platforms.
The primary drawback to this platform is that the fees can add up quickly. As of 2022, Etsy takes an estimated 45 cents off the top from each listing, then they take around 9.5% of the sale. The site has also raised its costs multiple times, so the fees are prone to change.
Poshmark is an established market for selling clothes; however, you can also sell personal care items, home goods, and even electronics. They are fairly selective but have a list of what you can sell. If what you want to sell fits their limited selection, Poshmark has around 7.8 million active buyers.
A perk of selling on Poshmark is that their fees are straightforward and organized by how much the sale was. For sales under $15 have a flat fee of $2.95. For sales over $15, they charge 20% of the price. At this time, Poshmark’s fee also includes a prepaid shipping label, so you don’t have to deal with much hassle after the sale is made. This platform can also give some limited support for returns, lost packages, and other problems.
Other online marketplace options for selling your products
If you don’t see an online selling site that fits your needs, don’t worry! With the growth of ecommerce, there has been a surge of available platforms. Other options include Handshake, Alibaba, Ruby Lane, Chairish, Swappa, Decluttr, Walmart, Wish, and many, many more.
Since many online platforms are niche-specific, research what platform other sellers are using in your industry. For more advice on what online selling platforms might be a good fit for your business, reach out to us for a discovery call.
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Benefits of selling on established online marketplaces
When starting, moving, or growing a business online, your options aren’t limited to online selling platforms. You could also sell locally or create a website from scratch. There are also niche-specific platforms where you can sell products. However, there are many benefits to using an established site to sell your products or services.
1. Existing audience
One of the biggest benefits of using online selling platforms to sell your products or services is that they have a strong group of active buyers. When creating a website from scratch or using an alternative method, it takes time to build a following and get people to look at what you offer. While having good customer ratings and maximizing SEO will help you get more attention on a marketplace, you can get a lot of attention to your business quickly.
Because of the large audience, you might also save money on advertisements and general marketing. On many sites, you can purchase “boosts” or something similar for your listings. While those features cost money, it is usually significantly cheaper and less time-consuming than organic marketing on a website on your own.
2. Customer confidence
When going to a new site, potential customers might feel nervous about the security of their payment information. They also might not be confident in the delivery method or the customer service options that are available. Using an online selling site allows customers to have confidence in what and how they are buying.
Using an established platform can also help give sellers confidence. Watch out for connective ecommerce, as there are many get-rich-quick schemes. Carefully choose where and how you do business, and thoroughly research platforms before joining one. When in doubt, ask other entrepreneurs in your industry or contact a professional.
3. Simple navigation
Website navigation and structured data factor into SEO rankings, but they also impact customer satisfaction and conversion rates. On disorganized platforms, customers may not be able to find what you offer. Likewise, it can be difficult to build a simple, easily accessible payment method.
While it looks different for each platform, most online selling platforms have an established structure that is easy to navigate. They might also have a set payment system that makes it easier for potential customers to buy your products.
4. Improved SEO
With simple navigation comes the opportunity for good SEO. Using a platform that is intuitive can improve a customer’s experience and make your store easy for search engines to find. While you will still need to work and create credibility for your shop within local algorithms, most platforms have some credibility with search engines that make their site, and your store, easier to find.
That said, your business will still need to build credibility to make your store easy to find. On many sites having a good buyer rating makes a big difference. You should also still employ good SEO practices like using targeted keywords and keeping listings up to date.
Marketing strategies for selling on online marketplaces
When you start a new eCommerce business or switch from in-person sales, you might be starting from scratch. Or, if you have an established brand, you might be able to take advantage of your existing audience. Regardless of your situation, a marketing strategy can make all the difference.
The key to developing any marketing strategy begins with considering your audience. Where do they spend their time? What social media platforms do they use if any? What sort of things do they find funny? What are their pain points?
Developing a customer persona can be helpful for this process. It can also be useful to ask your existing customers these questions. While you could offer some sort of giveaway or official poll, many customers are happy to talk about themselves and willing to give you their opinion.
Once you know where your audience is and their general preferences, it’s time to make a plan for getting them to buy your products or services. Get creative! Marketing can include anything like sponsored posts, social media outreach, engaging in Facebook groups, or placing strategic ads. Anything is possible when it comes to marketing, just remember that your goal is to get more leads and more sales.
If you want help developing your marketing strategy, contact us. We can help you build and implement a plan for your eCommerce business.
Selecting the right product to sell online
While the marketplace you choose impacts your business, the products or services you sell should also be a consideration. Often, store owners will sell what they want to and disregard what their customer base is looking for. It is vital to properly merchandise your e-commerce business in order to make the most profit.
You also have to remember to consider your margins. If you are selling a small item with already low margins, moving to sell online might not be a good move since many ecommerce platforms have fees that would further cut into your margin. While some small products can help drive traffic to your big-ticket items, be careful when using loss leads or similar strategies.
Choosing the right online marketplace for you
While there are many strengths of selling products online, there are also a few pitfalls. Some things to consider are fees, time investments, and product margins. When exploring potential platforms, consider its strengths, like active buyers, and its weaknesses, like high fees. Make sure you are looking at the big picture and exploring multiple options to find what is best for your ecommerce business.
Pay special attention to what sort of customers use a particular online selling platform. Even if a platform has a large audience, it won’t be worth the effort to use that platform if no one in that audience is interested in your product
There are so many options when it comes to choosing an online selling site that it can get overwhelming. When in doubt, think about where your potential customers are and go with that platform.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to choose just one option. While it is best to start small and be mindful of your limits, you can sell on multiple platforms. If you would like guidance or help growing your ecommerce business, schedule a discovery call or contact an ecommerce agency. We’re here to help you win.
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