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Quick and Easy Ways to Start Selling Online

by
June 4, 2015

 

If you already have a brick and mortar store and you’re interested in going “All In” by adding eCommerce, check out our recent article. If, however, you’d like to take some smaller steps, and test the waters a bit, there are several options (and those options keep growing) to make your entry into online selling much easier.

Many sites allow you to sell online, even without having your own store. Here are the pros and cons for three of the most well-known and popular sites that allow you to sell online, and they all connect with ShipStation for shipping:

1. Amazon

Benefits:

Large customer base. Amazon is the largest online retailer in the U.S., and the second largest in the world (after Alibaba). With hundreds of millions of customers, it offers a huge opportunity for product sales.

Build on Amazon’s name. Smaller companies can level the competitive playing field by selling on Amazon. If your products are unknown to customers, selling them through Amazon offers an added layer of trust for buyers.

Warehousing, shipping and fulfillment.  This is one of the most important benefits to selling on Amazon. With the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program, you can have your products warehoused at Amazon, orders picked, packed, and shipped by the Amazon team, and even have your returns handled by Amazon (for a fee, of course). Participation in the FBA program allows you to utilize Amazon’s free shipping offer on orders over $35 and Amazon Prime.

Caveats: 

Fees. Amazon charges fees on everything including fulfillment, listing your products, warehousing, transactions and shipping. These fees can run as high as 25% or more of your products’ price. They make online sales easier, but remember you are paying for that convenience.

Small fish in a big pond. On Amazon you are one of many sellers, and you don’t have a lot of say when issues come up. You can also be undercut on price by other vendors or even Amazon.

No branding or marketing opportunities. Want to use a branded box to ship your items from Amazon? Hoping to build your list with Amazon customers who buy your product? No can do. These aren’t options when fulfilling through Amazon.

2. eBay

Benefits:

Large customer base. eBay may not be as large as Amazon, but it has over 100 million active buyers worldwide. The built-in traffic to the site helps new sellers. 

Simplicity. eBay’s three-step “List It, Ship It, Get Paid” model is backed by excellent tools and infrastructure to help get products on the site quickly and easily.

International sales. Want to sell your products around the globe? eBay makes it easy. Check out our article on selling internationally on eBay, here.

Caveats: 

No warehousing, shipping and fulfillment options. Unlike Amazon FBA, you have to handle your own warehousing, shipping and fulfillment (although you can outsource those functions). While it makes the fees less than Amazon, it does require additional time to fulfill on your own, have an employee do it, or manage the outsourcing process. 

Fees.  While not as high as Amazon FBA, fees can be 10% or more of the selling price. Fees include a listing charge, final value fee, listing upgrade fees and supplemental service fees.

Nonpayment and seller issues.  eBay’s bidding option is a big nonpayment problem. In addition, eBay leans towards protecting the buyer more than the seller, with lengthy return and negative buyer feedback policies.

3. Etsy

Benefits: 

Large, specific customer base. While Etsy is large, with over 40 million active members, they are specifically looking for artisanal items, including hand-crafted and specialty. If your products fit those niches, this is a great place to sell.

Quick and inexpensive to set up. It’s easy to list products on Etsy, and Etsy only takes a 3.5% selling fee. Other fees include a $.20 listing fee per product and credit card processing fees.

Merchant community. Unlike other large online sales sites, Etsy has a strong community. The friendly feeling is fostered through Etsy forums and teams.

Caveats: 

No warehousing, shipping and fulfillment options. Similar to eBay, selling on Etsy requires you to handle your own warehousing, shipping and fulfillment. Again, you can outsource this, or you can do it yourself or have employees take care of it, which could take up a chunk of time. 

Competition. While Etsy has created a strong community, there is still a great deal of competition. Etsy’s popularity has attracted larger customers, especially those from overseas, who are undercutting prices.

Final Thoughts

Whether you decide to dip your toe into the water, or move full force into online selling, by leveraging online selling channels you’re bound to increase sales. These tips should help you find the right fit for your business so you can get started quickly and profitably.