E-commerce is growing, as millions of consumers go online to save time and money and to get access to a wider variety of products. Whether you choose to sell through an online marketplace or add e-commerce functionality to your website, there are many options available for moving your business online.
An online marketplace allows you to avoid the cost and technology involved with creating your own e-commerce site. It also gives you access to an existing pool of online consumers. Here are some of the more popular sites to get you started.
eBay started as an auction site but has since added a “Buy it Now” option, where consumers can purchase an item immediately. eBay’s simple platform allows users to create their own store and sell their items according to their own pricing, shipping options, and payment methods. There‘s no monthly fee, however, eBay charges insertion, final value, and listing upgrade fees. For most products, the first 50 items sold are exempt from an insertion fee and the final value fee is about 10% of the total amount of the sale, up to $250.
What began as an online bookstore has grown into an e-commerce company that sells almost everything. Seller Central is Amazon’s web interface that allows sellers to manage their products and orders, including inventory tracking and payment management. Amazon manages the payment options for the seller and then deposits payments into the seller’s bank account using its Marketplace Payments program. This allows Amazon to offer a variety of payment options, including credit, debit, and gift cards. Amazon can also ship directly to the buyer (for a fee).
There are two types of payment plans available to sellers: the Professional Selling Plan for those with more than 20 items per month to sell; and the Individual Selling Plan for those who sell less than 20 items per month. Sellers pay $1.49 per item sold, in addition to referral and variable closing fees. The Professional Selling plan costs $29.99 per month with per-item referral and variable closing fees. Referral fees range from 8% to 20% depending on the item category, and closing fees range from $0.24 to $5.98 per item.
Etsy has over 30 million users and focuses on unique product categories such as handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies. To sell on Etsy, users must register with a credit card or PayPal account. Sellers’ payment options include PayPal, cheque, money order, or the Etsy Direct Checkout, which allows users to pay via credit or debit in their local currency with Etsy depositing the funds in the seller’s bank account. There are no monthly membership fees, but each item costs sellers $0.20 to list for up to four months, with a 3.5% transaction fee on the sale price.
Hosting your own e-commerce website gives you flexibility and control over your content, layout and branding. It also cuts down on the visibility of your direct competition, which can be a disadvantage of selling through an online marketplace. There are many tools available to help you establish your own e-commerce site with good customer support.
Shopify hosts over 100,000 online retailers and is known for its user-friendly design. Store fronts can be customized and store owners can manage inventory, create coupon and discount codes, and accept online payments, including PayPal and Bitcoin. Store owners can also accept credit cards without a third-party payment gateway, which avoids transaction fees. The platform integrates with mobile software, with hundreds of apps available to increase functionality for store owners and customers. Shopify’s plans range from $14 to $179 per month, with credit card fees from 2.25% + $0.30 to 2.9% + $0.30.
Bigcommerce has over 50,000 online stores and is known for its comprehensive e-commerce tools. The platform has search engine optimization tools and can be integrated with social media. Like Shopify, the platform is mobile-friendly, allowing content management through mobile apps and mobile purchasing for customers. Their Bigcommerce Payments program allows store owners to accept major credit cards with fees ranging from 2.65% + $0.30 to 2.9% + $0.30. They can also accept online payment options, such as Paypal. Bigcommerce offers three different plans ranging from $29.95 to $199.95 per month. Although most plans waive the transaction fees, the lowest plan charges a 1.5% fee per transaction.
Volusion hosts over 40,000 online retailers. This all-in-one solution offers website design, built-in search engine optimization, and “Deal of the Day” promotions. However, unlike its competitors, Volusion does not offer unlimited bandwidth and charges $7 per gigabyte in overage fees. Store owners can accept payments from major credit cards and Paypal, and the Volusion Payments program helps merchants handle payment processing. Plans range in price from $15 to $135 per month with no transaction fees.
If you are not offering your customers the option to purchase your products or services online, chances are that your competitors are. How many customers are you missing out on?