We live in a constantly changing world where you can buy almost anything online in a couple of seconds. Today, between 6 and 12 million people worldwide make online purchases every week. That's up to 1.5 million people buying stuff on the internet every single day. Could they potentially be buying from you?
There are many options for selling your products online, from using a popular marketplace like Amazon or eBay to setting up your own website. Each option has its pros and cons, and it's important to consider factors like cost and ease of use when making your choice. This guide explores the best ways to sell your products online in 2023 and offers tips for starting online sales, including how website builders can make the process easier with features like payment processing and dropshipping.
Why sell online?
First and foremost, selling online allows you to reach a wider audience than you can with a physical store. With the click of a button, customers worldwide can browse and purchase your products. This means more potential customers, more sales and more revenue for your business.
Another advantage of selling online is lower overhead costs. Rent, utilities and other expenses associated with physical storefronts can quickly add up. With an online store, you can invest the money you save in other business areas, such as marketing or product development.
Selling online also gives you greater flexibility and control over your business. You can set your own hours, manage your inventory, and adjust your pricing and promotions in real time. Plus, with the right platform, you can easily integrate with other tools and services to streamline your operations and improve your customer experience.
Finally, selling online offers powerful analytics to help you better understand your customers and target your marketing efforts. By tracking who your buyers are and analyzing their behavior, you can create a database to tailor marketing campaigns to specific groups of customers. Email marketing is just one example of how this data can drive sales and grow a loyal customer base.
Things to consider before selling online
Building an online store takes time and effort, but the rewards can be significant in increased sales, greater reach and a stronger brand. Here are some tips to set yourself up for success when selling online:
- Do your research: Before you start selling, take some time to research your market, competition, and potential customers. It will help you understand what products to offer, how to price them, and how to position your brand. Whenever possible, conduct surveys and individual and group interviews, and collect data from social networks, the most accessible source of consumer information.
- Draw on your personal experience: Sell products that you understand. This makes it easier for you to find suppliers, verify the quality of products, write detailed descriptions for product cards, and advise customers.
- Choose the right platform: There are different options for selling online, from marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to website builders like Shopify and Wix. Consider your budget, business goals, and technical expertise when choosing a platform that's right for you.
- Consider dropshipping: It’s easy to spin up a store and begin selling products quickly without taking on the overhead of storing and fulfilling products.
- Track the trends: Google Trends is a free tool ideal for analyzing seasonality and current trends and forecasting demand. With the help of the service, you can monitor the growth of demand for individual products and categories. News and analytical materials about consumer trends are available from TrendWatching, Trend Hunter, and Springwise. We also recommend reading interviews with opinion leaders in the e-commerce market.
- Create high-quality product listings: Your product listings are your virtual storefront, so making them stand out is important. Use high-quality images and detailed descriptions to showcase your products and make it easy for customers to understand what they're buying.
- Set up your payment and shipping processes: Make sure you have a secure and reliable way to accept payments online, and consider offering multiple payment options to accommodate different preferences. You'll also need to set up an efficient and cost-effective shipping process.
Choosing products to sell online
This may sound obvious, but choosing the type of products to sell is essential to your store's success. The possibilities are virtually endless. If you don’t have products to sell, consider this list of top trending product categories for 2023.
According to data from Keywords Everywhere, the top category, “power tool accessories,” receives about 27,100 searches per month.
- Power tool accessories, including power drills, impact drivers, table saws, and polishers
- Dog toys, including training toys, chew toys, squeaky toys, and stuffed plush toys
- Fashion and accessories, including clothing, shoes, and jewelry
- Home and kitchen products, including appliances, cookware, and decor
- Electronics, such as smartphones, laptops, and gaming consoles
- Beauty and skincare products, including makeup, skincare, and hair care
- Toys and hobbies, including board games, puzzles, and art supplies
These are some trending products, but there are so many more to choose from when deciding what to sell online. Finding high-quality products is only one part of the challenge. The real secret is understanding how to market them.
️How to build an online store
Once you decide what to sell, it's time to start creating your online store. Creating an online store can seem daunting, but there are plenty of user-friendly platforms available to help you get started. With the right tools and a bit of creativity, you can create an online store that showcases your products and attracts customers.
When it comes to setting up your online store, there are two main options: selling on a marketplace like Amazon or eBay or creating your own website using a platform like Shopify or Wix. Here's what you need to know about each option.
Selling online on a marketplace
Selling on a marketplace like Amazon, Etsy or eBay can be a great way to reach a large audience quickly. These platforms have millions of active users, which means there’s a lot of potential for sales. Additionally, you don't need to worry about setting up your own website, which can save you time and money.
However, there are some downsides to selling on marketplaces. You'll need to pay fees for every sale you make, and you'll be competing with many other sellers who are offering similar products. Additionally, you won't have as much control over the customer experience as you would with your own site.
Here are three marketplaces to consider: Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
Amazon has two plans, depending on if you are an individual or a professional.
You can choose an Individual plan if you:
- Sell fewer than 35 items per month
- Don’t use advanced selling tools or programs
- Are still thinking about what to sell
The subscription fee for an Individual plan is $0.75 on all items sold while the selling fee is charged per item sold.
The Professional plan is for you if you:
- Sell more than 35 items per month
- Need access to APIs and additional analytic features
- Want to use such programs as Launchpad and Handmade
A Professional plan is $25 per month, while the subscription fee is charged per item sold.
To start selling on Amazon, you’ll need an Amazon customer account or a business mailing address, a credit card, passport or other ID, and company registration details, including a VAT number.
Some of Amazon's main features include:
- The Buy Box: the area on the right-hand side of the product detail page where customers can add items to their cart. Winning the Buy Box is crucial for driving sales on Amazon.
- Amazon Prime: a membership program that offers free two-day shipping, among other benefits. Offering Prime shipping on your products can help increase sales.
- Sponsored Products: Amazon's pay-per-click advertising option. They can help increase your visibility and drive sales.
- Amazon Customer Reviews: Amazon allows customers to leave reviews on your products. Encouraging positive reviews can help improve your product's ranking and increase sales.
When you receive orders on Amazon, you'll need to fulfill them promptly. You can choose to handle shipping yourself or use Amazon's Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service, which handles shipping and customer service for you.
eBay was founded in 1995 and is one of the largest online marketplaces in the world, with over 185 million active buyers.
eBay offers several types of shop packages for sellers, each with its own set of features and pricing. Here are the main eBay shop packages:
- The Basic Shop package is designed for new and low-volume sellers. It includes basic listing and selling tools, as well as discounted insertion fees and a customizable storefront.
- The Featured Shop package is good for growing businesses. It includes additional marketing tools and increased visibility in eBay search results.
- The Anchor Shop package is more suited for high-volume sellers. It offers promotional tools, dedicated customer support, and customized reporting.
- The Enterprise Shop package is for large businesses and brands. It provides more branding options and access to eBay's API for integration with other systems.
A monthly subscription to the Basic Shop package is $25, and free fixed-price listings for 250 items. The Featured Shop package allows you to take your business to the next level; it starts at $69 monthly with 1,500 free fixed-price listings.
Some of eBay's main features include:
- Best Offer: eBay allows buyers to make offers on your listings. It can be a great way to encourage sales and negotiate pricing with buyers.
- eBay Guaranteed Delivery: a program that guarantees delivery by a certain date for eligible listings. It can help increase buyer confidence and drive sales.
- eBay Stores: customizable storefronts that allow you to showcase your brand and products. Stores offer additional features and benefits, such as discounted listing fees and marketing tools.
- eBay Feedback: eBay allows buyers to leave feedback on your products and service. Encouraging positive feedback can help improve your reputation and drive sales.
To increase your visibility on eBay, it's important to optimize your product listings, which involves using relevant keywords in your titles and descriptions, providing high-quality images, and offering competitive pricing.
Etsy is a truly unique platform where you can sell handmade goods, gifts, vintage items and more. In this market segment, Etsy is the undisputed leader.
Etsy offers several different types of shop packages for sellers to choose from, depending on their needs and budget. The three main types of shop packages are:
- Standard: a basic package offered by Etsy that is free to use. It includes access to all of the basic selling features on the platform, such as the ability to create listings, process payments, and communicate with customers. However, sellers are charged a fee for each item they sell and may not have access to all of the advanced features offered by Etsy.
- Plus: a paid subscription package that offers additional features to sellers. These features include access to more advanced analytics tools, creating custom website domains, and increased customization options for their shop pages. The Plus package costs $10 per month.
- Premium: the highest tier package offered by Etsy that is designed for larger businesses with high sales volumes. It includes additional tools for managing multiple shops and customizing the checkout experience for customers. The Premium package costs $20 per month.
In addition to these three main packages, Etsy offers several add-on features that you can purchase to enhance your shop. These include options like Etsy Ads, which allows you to advertise your listings on the platform, and Etsy Shipping Labels, which provide discounted shipping rates.
Overall, Etsy offers a range of options for you to choose from when setting up your online shop, allowing you to select the package and features that best suit your needs and budget.
Creating your own website
If you decide to set up your own website, you have two options:
- Hire an agency to build it
- Use an e-commerce platform to build it yourself
If you choose to go the agency route, make sure your developers give you access to a content management system (CMS), so you can edit your site and change your store’s inventory by yourself. You can expect to pay a significant amount upfront, potentially ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the agency and the scope of the project.
After your website is ready, you may have to manage to update the content or adding more features. But if you have enough budget, you can hire a developer to maintain and support your store and update plug-ins and themes.
The other costs to consider when setting up an online store are website hosting, domain registration, and marketing expenses. Website hosting can cost anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds per month, depending on the hosting provider and the level of service required. Domain registration can cost around $10 to $20 per year.
Marketing expenses can also add up, depending on the channels and strategies you use to promote your online store. For example, advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can cost anywhere from a few dollars to thousands per month, depending on your budget and the level of targeting required.
If you choose to use an e-commerce platform to build your online store yourself, you may use one of the popular platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace and Wix.
Shopify offers a user-friendly interface and a range of customizable templates to help you create a store that fits your brand. You can also use Shopify's built-in tools to manage inventory, process payments, and track sales.
Wix provides a range of customizable templates that you can use to design your online store. It offers several payment processing options, including Stripe, PayPal, and Square. The platform also integrates with several shipping providers, including FedEx, USPS and UPS, and provides detailed analytics to help you track your store's performance.
BigCommerce offers similar features to Shopify but also allows you to sell on multiple channels, including social media, Amazon, and eBay. It can help you reach a wider audience and increase your sales. BigCommerce’s entry-level plan offers main e-commerce features right out of the box that aren’t always included in competing products (like professional reporting, SEO features, and advanced shipping options).
Squarespace provides a range of customizable templates that you can use to create a professional-looking online store. You can also use Squarespace's built-in tools to manage your inventory, process payments, and track your sales. It doesn’t give you much choice in the payment gateway department or lets you sell in multiple currencies, but if you’re selling your products in only one currency, Squarespace is a great option, and you can always try it out for free.
Using e-commerce platforms to build your store yourself can be a more cost-effective option. For example, Shopify offers a range of subscription plans, starting at $29 per month for the Basic plan and going up to $299 per month for the Advanced plan. These plans offer a range of features and tools for building and managing your online store, such as website design templates, payment processing, and inventory management.
As a general rule, you should plan to spend a percentage of your revenue on website development and marketing to grow your online sales. This percentage can vary depending on the industry and the competition, but a common estimate is around 5-10% of revenue.
6 strategies to sell online successfully
To sell products online successfully, it’s important to have a clear idea of your target market, a well-designed website, high-quality product images, and effective marketing strategies.
You could be offering the best products or services, but if you don’t promote them properly, you’ll likely miss opportunities. Here are six ways to market your products and get sales:
1. Social media selling
If you're a startup or small business owner, you know how much it costs to get your business off the ground. Social media promotion is relatively inexpensive and lets you directly connect with current and potential customers. Depending on your goals, social networks can be used as a channel for building an image, a help desk, a communication platform or a direct sales tool.
2. Selling through live shopping
Live shopping is a form of e-commerce that uses live videos to promote and sell products directly to consumers. It’s a live online sales format during which the stream host (this can be a public figure, blogger, or influencer) demonstrates the product from all sides and talks about its advantages and unique properties in a form accessible to viewers.
As a potential buyer, the viewer can add a product to their basket in a few clicks and buy it without disconnecting from the live broadcast. Live sales include great techniques like flash sales, pre-orders, auctions, engaging Q&A sessions and much more. Restream, a live streaming solution, can help and lets viewers buy directly from your live stream.
You can add your products directly to your live video and display links to your products as a QR code on-stream. Viewers simply scan the code and purchase on your site without leaving the live shopping event. You can stream live shopping events on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch and over 30 other platforms simultaneously.
all at once
Dropshipping is a popular retail fulfillment method used by online stores that do not stock the products they sell. Essentially, the online store acts as a intermediary between the customer and a third-party supplier who ships the product directly to the customer.
This approach simplifies the management of an online store as the supplier handles the entire fulfillment process. Dropshipping is a great option for entrepreneurs looking to start their business with minimal costs and then gradually scale up.
With the e-commerce industry booming, professional fulfillment providers offer sellers a comprehensive solution. For example, CJdropshipping provides free product searching and sourcing, as well as automatic order fulfillment. On its website, sellers can find many trending products with supplier resources and selling suggestions sorted by different categories.
4. Selling through a website or blog
Selling through a website or blog involves setting up an e-commerce platform on the site and showcasing products or services. You can do it through various payment gateways such as PayPal or Stripe, and customers can purchase products directly from the website.
Search traffic is an important source of website visitors and potential conversions. Search engines index your site, rate it according to their algorithms, and show or NOT show it to users. A quality blog can add weight and trust to your entire site for search engines. The more content you have, the more traffic you get, the higher the domain authority for search engines, the more traffic you get, and so on.
5. Affiliate marketing
An affiliate promotes a product or service the business offers, and if a customer purchases, the affiliate earns a commission. The commission is typically a percentage of the sale price ranging from a few percent to 50% or more.
The best thing about affiliate marketing is that you can scale your business. An ordinary seller sells goods to only one company. As a reseller, you can promote products from different companies and still earn commissions.
You can do affiliate marketing on any platform. Even Instagram will do. However, the easiest way to build your audience and increase affiliate sales is through one of two channels: a blog or a YouTube channel.
When it comes to promoting your affiliate links, you’re no longer bound to written content like blogs or social media posts. Restream allows you to use QR codes to promote your affiliate link live on camera. It means your viewers don’t need to search for the product, and you don’t miss out on getting credit for the referral. Plus, adding a QR code with Restream Studio gives you access to all kinds of useful analytics, like how many people scanned your code and visited your product page.
Starting a blog is now relatively easy and cheap. There are many tutorials on the internet to help you do this. Another platform is YouTube. Creating and uploading content on YouTube is free, which makes this platform ideal for many people. Optimize your videos for search and include affiliate links in their descriptions.
Note that you must communicate the fact that you are using affiliate links. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires you to be transparent about how you generate ad revenue.
6. Selling through mobile apps
Today, more than 70% of consumers make purchases using a smartphone. In addition, users spend much more time in a mobile app than on the website version — the difference can be up to 20 times greater.
Selling through mobile apps involves setting up a mobile e-commerce platform and allowing customers to purchase products or services directly through the app. Mobile apps provide a convenient and accessible shopping experience for customers and can be a valuable sales channel.
To sell your product through a mobile application, it’s not necessary to develop it yourself. You can use the services of existing marketplaces. It has its pros and cons: on the one hand, it’s an additional sales channel, and on the other hand, the uniqueness of the brand is lost because buyers come to the marketplace for a specific product, not a specific seller.
What is the simplest way to sell products online?
E-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay and Shopify are the simplest way to sell products online. They provide a ready-made infrastructure for selling, including payment processing, shipping and tax calculation, and customer management. All you need to do is sign up, set up your store, and list your products. Social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, are another simple option for selling as they have a built-in audience and allow you to set up a shop and sell directly to followers. These methods are ideal for those without technical or marketing expertise.
What are the best (or the most profitable products) to sell online?
The most profitable products to sell online vary and change, but some popular categories include health and wellness, fashion and accessories, beauty products, home goods, technology and gadgets, pet products, and hobbies and collectibles. To be successful, it's important to stay current with market trends and understand your target market.
What are the best sites for selling online?
The best site for selling online depends on your needs and goals. Popular options include Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Etsy and Walmart. Consider your target audience, product offerings and marketing strategy when choosing an e-commerce platform.
So, what's the best way to sell online? It really depends on your business needs and goals. If you're just starting out or have a limited budget, selling through a marketplace like Amazon or eBay can be a good option. These platforms already have a large customer base, which can help you get your products in front of more people. However, you'll have less control over your brand and may have to pay fees or commissions on your sales.
If you want more control over your brand and customer experience, setting up your own website with a platform like Shopify or Wix may be a better choice. These platforms offer more customization options and integrations with other tools, like payment processors and shipping providers. However, you'll need to invest more time and money upfront to build and maintain your website.
The key to success in online selling is to create a compelling product or service offering, implement a solid marketing strategy, and continuously evaluate and improve your sales efforts. By following best practices and staying up-to-date with industry trends, you can effectively reach and engage with customers and grow your online business.