Opening an Online Store: Options for Selling Online

Selling online is many people’s dream. Not only do you get to work from home, but you get to run it all from your computer. No work schedules to hamper you, no bosses to make your life miserable, and better yet, no annoying customers to deal with in person.

Online Stores
Creating an Online Store with Etsy

But how to go about setting yourself up as an online seller? There are quite a few options for the entrepreneurial at heart, but not all of them will be suited to your unique needs. Here are a few to consider.

eBay

What discussion of selling online wouldn’t be complete without eBay? The store and listing templates, online payment options, and other factors make it ridiculously easy to get started selling on eBay.

Designing your own eBay shop can be as simple as choosing a template and writing some content, or as involved as hiring a writer and heavily promoting your store elsewhere on the Web.

Amazon

Amazon offers a third-party marketplace that is similar in some respects to eBay, but yet has its differences. Not only does Amazon only offer fixed prices, they also don’t give as much attention to store setup for individual sellers.

However, you can also choose to sell via their affiliate program on your own site, earning a commission for every referral that ends in a sale — and saving yourself the trouble of having to store or ship any merchandise.

Etsy

If you are planning to sell handmade goods, consider a more specialized marketplace such as Etsy. This website attempts to bring the feel of buying from local artisans to the World Wide Web.

Buyers go to the site with the intention of buying handmade goods, so your listings reach a better-targeted market. Etsy also allows you to set up a simple store with a short “about” section.

Other E-commerce Sites

There are a host of ecommerce websites online that cater to third-party sellers, many with some sort of specialization.

For instance, just like Etsy specializes in handmade goods, Ruby Lane specializes in the sale of vintage and collectible items. There are also sites such as Café Press, which allows you to sell stationary, apparel, and other items that have been personalized with a photograph or image you designed, earning a commission of your choosing on each one. And of course, there are Yahoo stores.

No matter what your niche, chances are there is a site that will cater to your needs!

Opening Your Own Store

If none of these options appeal to you, or if none fit your unique needs, you also have the option of starting your own ecommerce website.

Having your store on your own site means that you don’t have to pay high fees or commissions to the website where you host your store, but it also means that you will have to do a lot of work yourself to design, maintain, and promote your online store as well as learning how to use analytics correctly to monitor your conversions and more. Still, many sellers prefer the independence associated with this option.

Creating a Rewarding Selling Experience

Selling online is a very rewarding experience, especially once your online shop takes off enough to provide a supplementary or even a primary income. There are a lot of options for would-be online sellers, many of which cater to the full range of types of stores, from selling on the side to full-time entrepreneurs.

Carefully research the options available to you, keeping in mind your intentions and your target market, before making a choice of where to set up shop.

Your Thoughts

Established sellers: Where do you sell online? Do you sell from your own website, either exclusively or in addition to a store on eBay or another ecommerce site?

This guest post is by Vern, a writer on a variety of topics including selling products online. He also writes about ebay shop design, and how to effectively manage your online storefront.

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Comments

  1. Its a nice post. At first I want to say thank you for sharing with us this kind of tremendous posting. Its my personal opinion that, Buying is much more effective than rent because then we have the freedom to do anything for next. invites you to read

  2. iPhone App Development says:

    Doing online business is really good idea. This will help to remove many problems that generally happen with offline. Today the internet has become a huge space and it can be used to display products/services in many different and effective ways. Despite this still many small businesses are certainly unaware with the advantage of the internet in order to promote their business. In fact I believe they all need web presence in current days.

  3. Ebay is still the big dog in town. With a lot of long term sellers it is a love hate relationship. Amazon is quickly becoming the alternative. Thanks for sharing.
    Ann would love you to read ..Shipping Peanuts: Other UsesMy Profile

  4. I’d recommend starting a small eBay store and building up from there. eBay is very helpful in getting you your sea legs when it comes to selling online. Once you master eBay, move on to your own site!

  5. Having an online business is the buzz nowadays. Once your business grows, you’ll be planning your own website design or ecommerce website.

  6. It certainly is easier than ever to start up your own shop – there’s no longer the overheads of rent and staffing – but it’s not as easy as many people think. As a fulfilment company we get a lot of enquiries from start ups. Many have ideas that they will be selling 1000 orders/mth within the first year, but no real marketing plans. It’s rarely enough these days to just be on the web – good promotion is very much part of success still.
    James would love you to read ..The woes of claiming for lost postMy Profile

  7. More and more people want to earn money from Net. however, it not mean that all of us will be successful. Affiliate programs are really good platform to online selling and earn money. I don’t try till but now i m interesting about it. thanks for nice post!
    Gold ETF would love you to read ..More Investors Turn to Gold ETFsMy Profile

  8. One thing you left out was how important it is to set up some sort of credit card processing on your site so that you don’t have to rely on something like PayPal, which has been know to be stubborn when there are complications. Being able to accept credit and debit card transactions on your own are the signatures of a successful online business, so if you don’t have it yet, fake it until you make it!

  9. We found a bespoke solution suited our immediate needs much better than an off-the-shelf package, but they are certainly the ideal solution for smaller traders

  10. Trade Forex says:

    yes, if you need an e-commercial web. Joomla can be the first choice. It easy to use and can provide most of tool for webmaster. there are many way to promote your product on web. you may ask friends or build an online-marking channel for that site.
    keep it up and good luck!

  11. This is a great resource for all online money makers. All of them sound great but I just hope that everyone who is using them, like myself, knows that their money is being moved around safely.

  12. I have to admit that I am a Joomla Lover. This CMS System let me create easy to handle online stores and I can track everything.

    It handle Credit Card Payments and PayPal which are the main forms of payment these days…Joomla also lets me build downloadable good stores in a fly…well not in a fly…you will need training on this kind of stuff…

    Everything is easy as long a you know how to do it of course.

    If I have to sell online, I will definitely own my own online store and then I will use ebay and amazon to expand my business.

    Online Stores these days are good for specific niches but I don’t think is a good idea launch another Zappos.com, or another overstock.com…If you ever want to build and online store, do it if it is a very specific niche store
    Luis Posselt would love you to read ..Why Word of Mouth Marketing is too ImportantMy Profile

  13. With open source software and plenty of help on forums its much simpler now than ever to set-up your own e-commerce site although initially the other methods combined will help sales. In the long run I think you do need your own presence online and setting up from word go is the best way to do it.

  14. Wow, this stuff rocks! I’ll be coming back for more. Thanks.

  15. Howard Miller says:

    Just started my new online business: selling antique clocks. Will keep you informed on the progress.
    Howard Miller would love you to read ..Antique grandfather clocks in Chesapeake VAMy Profile

  16. Affiliate programs are really good platform to online selling and earn money. I don’t try till but now i m interesting about it. I will try it.

  17. I’ve had the most success creating a niche product and selling it through my own site and controlling all distribution. No one but PayPal (my credit card processor) gets a cut of it, and no middle man like eBay is used. If you can create your own product, that’s really the only way to go!

  18. Personally i would always prefer creating my own online-store. Best software for me is Typo3 with commerce or maybe Magento.

  19. jonalyn ferrer says:

    Opening an Online Store: Options for Selling Online

    Wow! What a great idea…..But I think if you have more friends in internet, your products might spread that fast. And I believe by also putting different unique marketing strategies might help you build your business successful.

  20. Running your own web shop gives you a lot more freedom in how you want to develop the shop, I’ve tried selling on ebay and Amazon in the past and it just seems to be that these 2 sites especially ebay are to crowded, no matter what you sell you will find others selling the exact same thing, so the only thing you can compete on is the price, margins are always dropping so you are forced to try and sell more, with a webshop you can show potential buyers how you can differentiate your self from your competitors you can offer them a personal service and let them know that if something goes wrong you are there to help them. Well thanks for the great post

  21. I am relatively new to this subject of selling online, but I’m glad I’m learning new things each time. Thanks for sharing this post! I’ve learned a few good pointers also on the comments here.
    Johanna would love you to read ..Recovering Forgotten Saved Passwords in FirefoxMy Profile

  22. My wife and I have a friend who has done very well for herself on Etsy. She started out selling one-off pieces of children’s clothing and has gone on to sell to retail stores because they found her stuff on Etsy and loved it. Being successful online isn’t just about working from home on your computer, it’s about building a business that can grow and I would never encourage anyone to ignore ideas that take you offline.
    James would love you to read ..HSV – What is ItMy Profile

  23. Dick Spaans says:

    I think Amazon is not a good choice for my grandfather clocks site. They refuse to pay commission for sales through third party sites. And most of their floor clocks are sold by third parties and not by Amazon itself!
    Dick Spaans would love you to read ..Cheaper grandfather clocksMy Profile

  24. Until recent years, Yahoo stores were lot popular. They helped building stores as well as did merchant account and payment processing jobs very effectively. Don’t know why there is no much buzz about them these days. I think it is because independent solutions easily available like hosted shopping carts, cheaper credit card processing companies etc.. A way better option.

  25. Rajesh Vinaykyaa says:

    Selling online is great but cost do matters to get handful of services from providers. Ebay do works well which in comparison to others is far better. One question is – don’t you think it can work well on own domain as well?

  26. “Here are some other good resources for setting up and marketing an online store:
    http://www.practicalecommerce.com
    http://www.websitemagazine.com

    If you’d like to accept payments on your site, you will also need to think about an
    1.) SSL, which encrypts your customers’ credit card information. If you purchase your domain name from NameCheap, you get this for free.
    2.) a payment gateway, which sends this credit card info to
    3.) a merchant account, which turns the credit card info into money you can put into your bank account.

    These services vary in cost, but are usually around $25 a month plus transaction fees. Be sure you know all the fees upfront before you set this up.

    Hope this helps.

  27. UK Dedicated server says:

    Just study what people usually used to search online and then make a decision of selecting things to sell.

  28. Electronic cigarettes says:

    Nice informative post and comments too. Thanks to ejunkie to the blog owner too.

  29. Hi Vern,

    I’ve used ALL options listed above and nothing beats opening your own store. For the price of web hosting ($16), free e-commerce softare (zencart), ssl ($16/yr), I was able to open my own store and 100% of profits went to me!

    If you are going to do all the work involved of taking pictures, posting, shipping, etc., might as well have your own store.

    The only thing I would do differently next time is use WordPress as my software, since it’s simpler to use. All great options though and they all have their rightful play in the world of ecommerce.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Michele Welch would love you to read ..3 Tools To Streamline Your Online BusinessMy Profile

  30. Opening up your own online store with a unique root level domain name is a very difficult proposition unless you have a well thought out plan to drive traffic to the store. Pay per click advertising is the easiest way to obtain traffic, but the cost per click and per sale will cut deeply into profit margins. A potent marketing plan is almost as important as decisions about the products to be sold. Beware of scammers that claim becoming an online merchant is an easy route to riches.
    Randy Pickard would love you to read ..Do Not Dismiss BtoB Advertising On FacebookMy Profile

  31. I am planning to have my online business and I was looking for good sites where I can actually build them. I found this site where you can create your website. Everything is cool. You can put animated stuffs as well. You can show your creativity out there. But it’s just a suggestion. I mean there are other sites that offer the same service, however, they are all paid.

  32. I am interested to know in detail how can I be seller of these e-commerce sites.

  33. I know a lot of people who use Ebay and they like it. I think there has been a thorough revolution the way businesses are selling their products to customers because of the internet. Creating a successful ecommerce site is the new target of every entrepreneur who wants to sell online and make profit. The most important thing to do is to ensure the success of your ecommerce website and continuously evaluate what customers want.

  34. I found this because i recently have been researching Etsy to sell custom made shirts that i’ve been planning for a while. I think the ecommerce approach definitely needs to have unique products and be professionally presented these days to get people to take your products seriously. Great design correlating with your products, while maintaining functionality is a must as well.

  35. Yes there are many options for people looking to sell online. Personally I prefer selling products as an affiliate, as you briefly mentioned with the Amazon program. That way you can avoid a lot of expenses and customer service hassles.

  36. I think all people who make their own products should open up an online store because some other people may find your creations great and online shoppers, i think would buy anything now a days lolz. online stores are great because sometimes, the same product you find in stores are cheaper online. cool!

  37. Thanks for discussing the Amazon option — that’s something I’ve been looking into now that PayPal seems pretty unattractive.

    • I was a bit worried about keeping Amazon in there after their latest controversy, but now that is over, yes, they’re a good bet and easy to use.

  38. I tend to think that it’s worth people dipping their toe into e-commerce by initially having a static brochure site, with a shop link to ebay (or one of the other free ones you mention).

    Monitor the clicks, and if enough people are interested in the shop, then it’s probably worth moving away from the shared shops (where people are more likely to browse away for cheaper offers from other people), into their own more professional-looking on-line one.

  39. I think you have mentioned some great marketplaces. Ebay and amazon are my favorites. well e-Junkie is also a good enough marketplace

  40. Selling online can be done in a lot of ways and you can do all these one thing at a time. Try the first one and if it does not work out for you then try the other. Eventually you’ll find something that really suits what you want or need. Selling online can be quite a challenge but it is rewarding.
    Andrew would love you to read ..5 Ways to Find Guest Blogging Partners for Your WebsiteMy Profile

  41. Hi Vern

    I have just opened an Etsy store last week. I am also selling the products off-line locally. Very on topic for me. Want to source Amazon products eventually, that will go with my small niche blog. Will bookmark this post as there is such great information for me; some of which I will implement later. Thanks for sharing Vern. Much appreciated :-)
    Patricia would love you to read ..Lavender Product Review-The Truth- The Whole Truth…My Profile

    • Yeah, I think one thing about jumping on board with Amazon is it is one of the sites that comes up in tons of searches thanks to the brand dominance it has in Google. So definitely one to consider.

  42. Vern,

    I work for an online retailer and we use a variety stores to help maximize our potential. We of course have our own online store(at our domain), but we also use Ebay to sell and get rid of old merchandise that we need to get away from.
    But like Ivan mentions, you definitely have to experiment and mix and match to find the online store that is right for you. Not every store, is perfect for what you need. My company tried Amazon and found it did not meet our expectations and what we needed from, as an online realtor. Everything is different per case and it’s best to experiment yourself before you find exactly what you want.
    David Clay would love you to read ..Auto Power Chair Lift 350My Profile

  43. I personally use eBay every time I have to get rid of second-hand stuff, especially computers and electronic devices in general.
    Finding a place of choice to sell online, something you can trust blindly, isn’t an easy feat, and I feel like eBay isn’t much user-friendly in this regard as it’s honestly full of people not serious enough to make businesses online. It’s very common to have the winner of the auction mail you some excuse not to buy the item, or just disappear without finalizing the purchase.

    However, from a business standpoint, it’s also a good chance if you’re willing to provide a new service for sellers/buyers, that’s why my company a couple years ago launched a 3D virtual shopping mall using the Unity3D framework.

    Overall, ecommerce is still a growing phenomenon, one that, however, is often much different than people imagine, concentrating the big bucks in the hands of a small number of protagonists and leaving not much to the small-business competition.
    Gabriele Maidecchi would love you to read ..7 Simple and Effective Ways to Promote Your New Blog PostMy Profile

    • I’m used to eBay for the most part, so I’ve gotten used to the user friendly issues, especially while designing the sales page. But it does get the job done, and with their partnership with Paypal makes it less likely you’ll get ripped off somehow, which is why I stick with them.

  44. Divemaster says:

    Profit will depend on the things you decide to sell there , searched items will give you more $ , so make a little market research .

  45. Ivan Walsh says:

    Hi Vern,

    There are a few other options. While not stores in the ‘classical’ sense :) you can add your goods to ejunkie, payloadz and Paypal marketplaces.

    This lets you test the waters and see if there is a demand before you buy your own domain etc.

    Ivan

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