Now that you have decided it’s time to start selling online after reading The Pros and Cons of Selling Online, where do you start? Step One in How to Start an Online Shop: Choose a selling platform. There are so many options when it comes to setting up your online shop. Etsy? Amazon? Shopify? WP Commerce? There are so many options! Not to worry, I am here to give you the breakdown on each one to help make this decision easier and get you on the path to setting up your online shop quickly.
Let’s start with the easiest and most simple selling platform, Etsy. Why do I call it the easiest? Well, the whole platform is already in place and ready for you to simply add your items for sale right away. Not only that, but the set up of your online shop through Etsy is as easy as creating a username (i.e. shop name) and password. Once your account is set up, you can start listing items to sell immediately. Once you have your listings up on Etsy, you can work on customizing your shop by adding featured listings, photos of your workspace, and “about me” info.
One benefit of selling on Etsy is that there is a built in shopper base who comes to Etsy looking to buy. But on the other hand, Etsy is only open to makers and businesses selling craft supplies. So if you don’t fit in those categories, you will likely have to look elsewhere to set up shop. Not only that, but Etsy charges you a listing fee for each item you list to sell whether it sells or not and when it does sell, they charge you a percentage of the sales price as a fee for using their site. It doesn’t amount to too much compared to other shopping sites, but it is still good to take this fee into consideration when choosing where to sell online.
Amazon is similar to Etsy in that you only have to set up a seller’s account to list items to sell on their platform via 3rd party selling. But the process to set up an account takes a little longer, you have to pay a monthly fee to sell on Amazon, and the items you sell have to have a UPC code attached to them. Not only that, but they take a 15% fee for any items sold. But, it’s not too difficult a set up process, and if you can get your items listed, the buyer base is huge on Amazon, so there is potential to make quite a few sales.
If you want to try your hand at setting up your own website so that you can customize the look of it, sell whatever you want, when you want, and don’t have share at percentage of your earnings with the platform, then you have a few options. Two of which are Shopify and WP eCommerce.
Shopify makes it easy to set up shop quickly, by choosing one of their customizable shop templates. You can also use your own domain with the Shopify shopping cart which gives your company a more professional appearance. You have several plan options when setting up an account with Shopify, depending on how many products you want to sell, how big of a shipping discount you want, etc. But the ease of using Shopify for both selling and shipping is top notch. The biggest issue with using Shopify is that there is no built in shoppers coming to buy. You will need to market yourself and your online shop everywhere and anywhere to get those buyers to find you.
WP eCommerce is another option for selling online with a more customized look. If you have a blog (and traffic to your blog) already, WP eCommerce might be the choice for you as it puts a shopping page and cart on your blog domain. Which makes it easy to convert blog readers to shoppers! I have not personally used WP eCommerce, but it looks like you can easily attach your own payment gateway and print shipping labels from within the plugin. If you have a blog that you want to monetize with a shop, it is definitely worth checking out.
Hopefully I’ve helped you with the first step of how to start an online shop. You’ve learned a little more about the different online selling platforms available to small businesses and find one that speaks to you. Also, I must mention that just because you sell on one platform, doesn’t mean you can’t sell on the others too! I sell on Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify. And while it does take a little patience to ship and collect orders from all three platforms, I have found that it’s a good way to spread out and market my products to different shoppers. So try one, or try them all, and see what fits best and gets you those sales!
If you’re looking for affordable supplies for your handmade business check out our wholesale site!
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