Your choice of an online marketplace can make or break your career as a seller. The right sales venue can ensure a large consumer base and high profits. But choosing the wrong sales venue can consume your profits and undermine your business.
Most sellers learn the realities of online marketplaces the hard way by selling blind and losing money. It is easy to waste hundreds of dollars and vast amounts of time learning the ins and outs of online marketplaces.
To help you through this process, we've prepared a brief overview of the popular marketplaces and their pros and cons.
Before we begin, I'll explain a basic reality of online marketplaces that many sellers don't seem to grasp. Marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon.com, make money by charging fees to sellers..
These venues make a profit every time you sell something, and they make money whether you make a profit or not. This is why such venues are constantly pushing you to sell for the lowest price possible. They know that they will earn a fee, usually 10% of the price, from every transaction. Always keep this in mind when you see a suggested price or a feature that allows you to match the lowest price.
You should always add this fee to your other expenses when you calculate your profit margin. That way you can see if you are making money or not.
eBay is the easiest marketplace for beginners to try their hand in. This eCommerce platform is a great learning tool because selling on eBay can teach you the realities of online retail.
For an in-depth look at the pros and cons of eBay, read - Ask an expert: Is it worth opening an eBay store?
Amazon is the world's largest online marketplace. Unlike eBay, Amazon.com is basically a retail marketplace, which means it sells to a mass market. In essence, Amazon.com is a better venue for the sale of mass market goods.
Looking for more reasons to love Amazon? Check out - Why You Should Sell on Amazon.com
Contrary to popular belief, eBay and Amazon.com are not the only trusted online marketplaces. They are merely the biggest and the best known.
Some other marketplaces you might consider are as follows:
Ruby Lane – This site specializes in high-end used items, usually antiques and collectibles. The site caters to collectors and dealers. Prices are fixed, and the number of items is limited. You should only use Ruby Lane if you are selling collectibles. Interested in learning more? Check out our review of Ruby Lane.
Bonanza – This is a retail site dedicated to higher-end products, such as jewelry and fashion. Like Ruby Lane, Bonanza is geared toward professional retailers and established merchants who want to set up online shops. Click here to review our ten reasons why you should use Bonzana.
These smaller marketplaces have lower search engine rankings, which means products sold through them may not show up in Google or Bing searches. Many customers are simply not aware of these marketplaces, so they will not do business with them.
Even in this day and age, a lot of people only go to Amazon.com or eBay for online shopping.
If you are serious about online retail and want to make real money, you'll have to create your own online store at some point. There simply is no way to earn a decent profit from volume sales without your own site. Creating your own site gives you more control over prices and reduces competition. You won't be competing with tens of thousands of other sellers like you will on Amazon.com and eBay.
One of the best options for setting up your own sales site is SaleHoo Stores, which basically does everything for you. Setting up a site yourself can be a real hassle, and hiring a designer to create a site can be expensive.
A SaleHoo Store gives you a package with all the features and marketing tools you will need. This includes templates and an online shopping cart. The only technical skills you will need are the basic web surfing abilities you already have. If you can send emails or buy through Amazon.com, you know everything you need to set up a SaleHoo Store.
SaleHoo provides some other great resources, including a seller training center that provides basic knowledge about such vital topics as importing, product sourcing, and shipping.
Creating your own website is a lot of extra work, but it can be worth it, especially if you want more control over pricing and an alternative to the brutal competition on eBay and Amazon.com.
My recommendation is that you gain some experience by selling through Amazon.com or eBay before opening a SaleHoo store. eBay and Amazon.com are tough markets, but they're also great learning experiences that will teach you the basics of selling.
You will need these basic skills before you can master the fourth step in our series!