Whether it’s a product, service or skill, every business sells something.
And whatever you sell, it’s likely the internet is a growing part of your sales process.
Maybe you're just trying to get your name out there and grow some brand-awareness with potential future buyers (maybe you’re getting some nice traffic to your website with some nifty blogging, or building followers on social media).
Or it might be your entire sales funnel is online – right down to taking payments from customers. The full e-commerce set-up.
But for this article, we’re going to focus on businesses that want to sell goods online – including taking payment – but haven’t tested the water yet.
Before going the whole hog and building an e-commerce store, you can get a feel for online selling through well-known market-places like eBay, Amazon and Not on the High Street.
You might even find these platforms are perfect for your needs, and you don’t need to invest time building your own store.
Before we dive into the detail of eBay, Amazon and Not on the High Street, here’s a few tips that probably apply to most market-places.
First of all, do some research. Look for the goods you want to sell. If others are selling them, how much are they asking? And what kind of customer feedback are they getting?
You might get a feel for the depth of competition or demand, pricing and any issues or difficulties.
eBay and Amazon are massive sites with lots of different categories. So it’s important to list your goods under the right one.
If you can find people selling products the same as yours, see which categories they’re opting for. Sellers with the most views, bids or sales are probably choosing the right category (among other things). Follow their lead.
Before someone buys your product, they might want to ask you some questions – via email or whatever method the platform encourages.
So monitor your listings and be ready to answer questions when they come in. After all, if you walked into a bricks-and-mortar store, and the shop-keeper ignored you when you asked a question, you might not feel inclined to buy.
It’s the same online.
Most online market-places have terms and conditions. This includes rules about what can and can’t be sold. And what sellers should and shouldn’t do.
Don’t end up on the naughty step. Read the rules.
Think about how you’re going to deliver your goods to customers once they’ve paid. Post them? Use a courier?
And work out how you’re going to package them. Are they fragile?
For customers, there’s nothing worse than not receiving goods. Or receiving them late. Or receiving them broken.
Grrr. And fed-up customers write bad reviews.
OK. Now let’s look at the three platforms.
Here we go…
Everyone’s heard of eBay. There’s a simple reason for that. It’s massive.
You’ll need to create a seller account, which is pretty straight-forward. This involves providing some basic info, and setting up a method to pay your fees (often includes a percentage of the final sale price on each item).
You’ll also need to specify the payment methods you’ll accept from customers (e.g. PayPal or card-payments).
To create your listing, just click ‘sell’ at the top of the page and you’re on your way.
eBay will usually throw-up suggestions based on similar products to help you get your listing just right.
why use eBay?
It’s one of the most popular online market-places in the UK, which means lots of potential customers.
The auction feature can also be a big bonus. If you’ve got the right kind of item – a one-off for example, or something that’s in short supply and high demand – you can get great results by letting people bid for it, instead of just selling it for a fixed price.
Although its does many things (like providing cloud services for business and government), Amazon is best know for it’s online market-place.
Around 244 million people buy stuff on Amazon, so it’s a serious player (maybe the player).
To sell your goods on the platform, you’ll need to create a seller account. If you’re based in the UK, you can choose to just sell on amazon.co.uk…or you can sell on the French, German, Italian and Spanish sites as well.
At the time of writing, Amazon charges £25 per month.
When you create your listings, you can choose to let Amazon take care of ‘fulfilment.’ They’ll pack and ship your product to the customer, so you don’t have to worry about delivery.
why use amazon?
Like eBay, it’s massively popular. So if you’re selling the right products at the right price – and listing them effectively – you should do well. And the Amazon fulfilment option is a big bonus if you don’t want the hassle of shipping.
If your products are a little different, this might be the market-place for you.
Not on the High Street is a pretty choosy about who sells on its platform.You have to apply, and it tends to look for businesses selling unique, innovative or unusual products that consumers might not typically find ‘on the high street.’
If your application is successful, they’ll list and market your product, take payment from the customer, and then let you know so you can fulfil the order and ship the product out. And then Not on the High Street pays you. Happy days.
why use not on the high street?
The site is hugely popular, but because it only accepts sellers that meet certain criteria, there’s less competition if you can get your products listed.
You also get a lot of support to help you optimise your listings for customers, SEO and so on.
So there you have it. A quick overview of three popular marketplaces that could help you start selling online…quickly and easily.
There are lots of other market places, but whichever one (or more) you opt for, try to make sure your customers have a great experience.
Happy customers write good reviews. And good reviews will help persuade others to buy from you.
If it goes well, you might start to think about building your own store. There’s loads of solutions out there. Shopify, Woo Commerce and Magento, to name a few.
Or you might decide you’re happy just selling through an online market-place.
Whatever you decide, e-commerce is a skill that most retailers need to get to grips with.
Internet sales continue to grow year-on-year. And if your potential customers are shopping online, it probably makes sense to be selling online.
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