Where’s the best place to sell your products online?

If you’re thinking of creating a product (or products) to sell, where to sell them is something you need to consider.  (In fact, I know for most people this is one of the very first things they think about – sometimes even before nailing down the details of the product!)

In this article I’m going to give you a rundown of some of the online marketplaces you might want to consider, plus my thoughts on who each one is right for and the pros and cons of each.

(Please note, all opinions are my own.  There are no affiliate links in this post)

So let’s start with…

Amazon

Obviously a big one.  As of December 2018, 20.6 million users visited Amazon’s websites per month. 

What kind of product is it best for?

You can sell (almost) anything on Amazon, although I’d suggest researching first to check there is demand.  There are some products where either competition is too high (how are you going to stand out?), or people just wouldn’t think of going to Amazon to look for them in the first place, where it may not be the best fit.  (Especially if you’re planning on using Amazon FBA, where you’ll be paying them to store stock – that’ll get expensive if it doesn’t sell fast enough.)

Pros

  • It’s a large marketplace that people know and trust.
  • If you decide to use Fulfiled By Amazon (known as Amazon FBA), then they can handle the logistics (storage and shipping) for you – albeit at a cost – saving you time and having to figure this out yourself.
  • Amazon uses a built-in algorithm that recommends your products to people who might be interested in them based on their search history. 
  • The customers are there – so no need to worry about finding them – you can just focus on them being able to find your product.

Cons

  • There’s an ‘art’ to creating a product listing on Amazon.  Without a well optimised listing, you’ll struggle to get found and to convert your visitors into sales.  You also need to ensure you create a listing that Amazon feels is ‘compliant’. There are lots of rules around photography and wording and these change constantly.
  • It gets harder and harder to get those initial sales (and you need sales, to help with your ranking and, in turn, get more sales). I usually suggest paying for Pay-Per-Click marketing when starting out – and this can get expensive.
  • Amazon’s systems aren’t simple and Seller Support aren’t always that helpful.  Lots of new sellers struggle with this.
  • The fees can be high and they will eat into your margins.
  • Amazon ‘own’ the customer – meaning you don’t get access to names, email addresses, etc.  If you’re trying to build up your own brand, and your own following, this makes it more difficult.

Further reading:

Amazon Tiny Chipmunk screenshot

eBay

Another platform you’ve likely heard of.  eBay is a huge marketplace with a lot of existing customers.

What kind of product is it best for?

It seems like anything goes!  I’d always suggest researching first (you can look up previous sold prices) to get an idea.  However, you can list up to 20 items a month without a fee, so it’s a good place to ‘test out’ your product to see how well it sells.

Pros

  • Fees are reasonable (less than on Amazon).
  • There are very few restrictions on how you present your products (photography used, how you write and format your listing, etc).
  • If you don’t sell, you don’t pay anything.

Cons

  • You have no control over who else is selling your products and what they’re charging for them.
  • It’s harder to build a brand than on some other platforms.
  • Listings ‘expire’ so you need to keep on top of them.

Further reading:

 

Etsy

Etsy is a marketplace for handmade, originally designed, vintage items and craft supplies. 

What kind of product is it best for?

Etsy is a specialised marketplace and your products have to meet a set criteria.  (See above.) If your product doesn’t meet that criteria, it won’t be the one for you. 

Pros

  • You don’t need to purchase UPC codes (barcodes) to sell on Etsy – whereas you do on many other marketplaces.
  • As it’s quite a niche site, visitors do head there before even doing a Google search, if they have something in mind.
  • Set up is simple and free (initially).
  • You can sell digital products, as well as physical ones.

Cons

  • You can only sell a very specific type of product.
  • It’s becoming very saturated. (Then again, isn’t’ everywhere?!)
  • It can be hard to build up brand awareness, as often people just know they ‘brought it on Etsy.’

Further reading:

 

Not on the High Street

Notonthehighstreet.com is the biggest online gifting marketplace in the UK, with more than 39 million unique visitors annually. 

What kind of product is it best for?

Unique and customisable products tend to do well here.  NOTHS says it’s always on the lookout for ‘innovative and original ideas; something a little different’.

Pros

  • You can get infront of a lot of customers.
  • NOTHS does a lot of marketing – and often features products and brands.
  • It tries not to stock too many similar products or services, so there won’t be too much competition on the site.

Cons

  • Not everyone who applies to sell here will get accepted.
  • You need to pay a set up cost (£199 + VAT at the time of checking), plus 25% commission on every item sold.

Further reading:

 

Niche websites

These are sites that specialise in a certain kind of product – or a certain type of seller. For example, a store that sells craft supplies, or a marketplace for sellers who are parents.

What kind of product is it best for?

If there’s a niche website that fits your product, then it’s something worth considering.

Pros

  • Visitors to these kind of websites are there as they have an interest in products similar to yours – so you already have a captive audience who want what you have to sell.
  • The fees *can* be lower than on the bigger marketplaces (making it a more affordable option for you), but of course this will vary across marketplaces and you’ll need to look into it carefully.

Cons

  • There may well be other sellers (perhaps lots of them) selling the same or very similar products to your own – so you’ll need to work hard to stand out.
  • These marketplaces may not be as well known as the bigger ones we’ve outlined above (you’ll need to look into this), so they may not be the only place you’ll want to sell online, if you’re looking to get lots of traffic (and sales).

Further reading:

Screen Shot Tiny Chipmunk All By Mama

Your own website

If you want to grow your brand (and customer base), building your own e-commerce site could be a good option for you.

What kind of product is it best for?

Anything!  It’s your site, your domain and you have total control.

Pros

  • You have complete control of the look and feel of your site, the content, the photography style, etc.
  • There are plenty of user-friendly ecommerce website builders to choose from.
  • Many of these sites integrate with other applications (such as Facebook, Instagram, your own website – even eBay and Amazon), so you can manage your business from one place.
  • You’re in complete control of your costs.  There are no ‘hidden’ fees, you can set your own prices and shipping costs.  
  • You ‘own’ the customer details (many third-party marketplaces, such as Amazon, keep this information from you), so it’s a way of building up your own email list and followers.

Cons

  • If you’re building a website from scratch you have to do a lot of work to drive traffic there.  SEO is key and you’ll need to work hard to get people to your site.
  • You will have to pay for a domain and usually also a monthly fee for your chosen platform.
  • Setting up your own site is probably the biggest commitment (in terms of time and cost), so think carefully before investing in it.  

Further reading:

 

Facebook & Instagram

If you have a Facebook page, you can add a shop and sell your products directly on Facebook.

On Instagram, you can ‘tag’ products in your posts and a customer can click through to buy them on your website (or wherever you choose).

What kind of product is it best for?

Most things – but Facebook does have rules around what can and cannot be sold.  If you’re unsure, it’s best to check these out.

Pros

  • It’s free!
  • Many ecommerce platforms integrate with Facebook – meaning you only need to set up and manage your listings in one place.
  • Customers can browse and buy in once place – without having to go to a separate website.

Cons

  • You’ll need a Facebook business page to be able to set up a shop.  You’ll need an Instagram business account with a connected Facebook page if you want to sell there.
  • It’s probably not the only place you’ll want to be selling.  Unless you’ve built up a good following (and reputation) it’s unlikely someone will buy something from someone they’ve never heard of, on social media.

Further reading:

Try and see…

Obviously, before deciding which marketplace(s) are right for you, you’ll need to go and do a bit more research on your own.  This post is designed as a starting point, to give you some ideas of places you could sell, that you can investigate further.

Also, remember that it’s definitely possible to sell in multiple places (I do), to try something and see if it works and to stop if it doesn’t.