| OUTSIDE THE BOX
Four Online Marketplaces That Sellers Should Check Out
by Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig
With less than 6 shopping months until the holiday season is in full swing, sellers everywhere are busy readying their online stores. There is room for just about anyone to be part of the C2C (consumer-to-consumer) community. But where do you begin? It’s a good idea to formalize your venture and make it legal. Acquire a DBA or LLC, file any necessary paperwork, and purchase your domain name. By this time, you should know what you will be selling. The question is where to sell it. The following online retail spaces may not only be great places for new small businesses, but also for individuals who are jumping into the online store arena.
On the scene since 2005, Etsy is the first place many people think of when it comes to online selling. I have a store, but I found the setup process a little challenging. After I got past that, it was fairly easy to upload images of my inventory and start selling. What is great about this marketplace is that your store fee is based on items listed. I think it is extremely reasonable. Etsy also processes payments via a secure, SSL-encrypted platform and offers fraud detection systems to protect sellers as well as buyers. Recently, The Verge reported that the fee jumped from 5% to 6.5%, which was upsetting to many sellers. So, keep an eye on changes at the company that you might not like.
Some people forget that Amazon, the giant of online retail, actually is a great space for small businesses to grow. According to Insider, there are almost 2 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) selling on Amazon globally; approximately 3,700 new sellers joined Amazon daily in 2021, per Finbold’s research, cited in the Insider article. The advantage for those just staring out is that Amazon’s Individual plan costs only 99 cents per unit sold.
Probably the most exciting feature of the Shopify platform is that business owners have full control over their company’s store, including its look. Shopify also features built-in SEO tools, product videos, 3D views of products (similar to Amazon), and assistance in marketing products. But the downside is that, according to Website Builder Expert, small businesses may not fair as well as their larger counterparts using this marketplace. One reason may be that monthly fees start at $29.
If you have a Facebook account, then this free-to-you virtual store may be the perfect choice. The few minutes it takes to snap a photo of your product, write a description, and determine a price makes the setup process beyond easy. You can sell as much or as little as you choose—still at no charge—and the sellers and buyers have the ability to virtually talk to one another on the platform. For consumers, Facebook Marketplace may feel more like a yard sale than an online store at times. However, if they keep scrolling, buyers looking for unique items may find just what they want.
A FINAL THOUGHT
Good marketing and advertising are the keys to success for retail sellers—whether they’re businesses or individuals. If you want to think outside the box, I suggest checking out TikTok for Business. You may be leery of joining another social media platform to promote your product, but the number of potential eyes you may attract might help change your mind. And as Rob Neander at Real Business writes, “All you have to do is stay on top of the trends, unleash your creativity, and think fun.” You’ve got this!