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How to Sell Online in 2022: The Ultimate Platform Guide to Selling Products Online

Selling online has become a trend in the past few years. Today, more people buy on the internet due to convenience and ease of payment. This has led to an increased interest in learning how to sell online. From aspiring entrepreneurs to big retailers, everyone wants to know how they can start selling their products online and find success easily. 

One of the best parts about selling online is that you can do it without leaving your desk. Once you get the hang of it, you can run your entire business from your laptop. No kidding. It’s all you’ll need. 

But where do you start? 

In this post, we’ll pull back the curtain on where and how to sell your products online. Whether you’re looking to sell directly to consumers or sell wholesale to retailers, our guide will teach you how to reap profits with ecommerce.

How to Sell Online: The Essential Steps

When preparing to sell online, you want to start on the right foot by selecting products that people will want to buy. Finding trending items can be tricky but you’ll be surprised at where you can get product ideas. Take the time to lay the initial groundwork, so you can grow quickly as your sales rise.

 Here are steps to start selling products online:

1. Decide What to Sell Online

Selling online is easier when you have a great product that everyone wants. You can use online tools and reports to get an idea of what’s trending. Look at:

  • Trend Reports: When you’re on the hunt for a profitable product, it pays off to review trend reports, best-selling lists, and gift ideas. What are the top picks, recommended items, or most favorite products on Target, Walmart, etc.? 
  • Social shopping sites: These are sites where consumers recommend, share or comment on each other’s purchases. You can glance at what people are raving about to get product ideas for online selling. Examples of social shopping sites include Wanelo, Fancy, and RubyLane.
  • Google Trends: After identifying a few products, the next step is to search for them in Google Trends. The tool reveals how many people have searched for a particular item over the past few years. A steady rise in searches validates that more and more people are becoming interested in the product, so it’s likely a safe bet. 
google trends product research

Pro tip: As you’re evaluating online selling ideas, keep a spreadsheet of links, titles, or any other details that catch your attention during the research process. This information can be useful for finalizing your product range.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

With so much competition online, it’s essential to ensure your product listings and campaigns are strictly aligned to your target audience. Marketing to a specific audience segment is more strategic in terms of imagery, messaging, and promotions.

Start by looking at your competition. Who are they targeting, and what type of campaigns are they running for their products? If you don’t have access to any data, check out their social media profiles to see what kind of people engage the most.

Additionally, think about audiences you already tend to attract. Maybe your target audience is one that you’re already familiar with. For instance, if you’re good at marketing to millennials, you could tailor a promotion to them to see how they respond to your offer.

3. Create Your Listing

With your product selected, you can now create a listing to present the items to your audience. This is a catalog or list of items you put up on an online marketplace to help shoppers make a buying decision. Examples of marketplaces that allow listings include Handshake, eBay, Swappa, and Facebook Marketplace.

Core elements of a listing:

  • Title: What your product will be called. Choose a name that makes it clear what it is that customers are buying. For example, if I decided to sell men’s running shoes, I’d have called them “Adeel’s Turf Rider Men’s Running Shoe” to avoid any confusion. 
  • Description: Where you describe your item and explain how it will help improve people’s lives. Explain the different ways people can use the product. Give examples and use cases. If you need ideas, check out YouTube videos for tutorials on the product you’ve chosen.
  • Media: You can use the supplier’s image to display your product or shoot your own professional images if you are selling your own products. Make sure to capture more than one angle so people can get a better idea of the size and appearance of your item. 

4. Set Your Margins

Everyone interested in selling online wants to earn a profit, so you should set margins in a way that yields a positive Return On Investment (ROI) from your sales.

Note that the average ecommerce gross margin is approximately 40 percent. But you can generate more or less depending on the product you sell. An easy way to maximize your profits is finding winning products, putting them at the front of your marketing initiatives, and adding variations to expand choices (think different sizes, colors, and shapes).

Where to Sell Products Online

The next step in learning how to sell online involves selecting the right sales channels. Here are a few that might suit your business:

1. Shopify

Hosted ecommerce platforms like Shopify offer a quick and easy way to build an online store without touching a server or managing a backend. You get a good variety of well-designed themes that you can apply to your store. Such platforms also include great promotional tools like coupons, discount codes, and gift cards.

Also, you can install a dropshipping app to start selling online without inventory. It’s a great way to keep things lean – as you eliminate the need to rent a warehouse or purchase stock. One of the best dropshipping apps is Oberlo, which integrates with the majority of hosted ecommerce platforms.

Shopify also lets you integrate a wholesale channel to sell products in bulk. Once integrated, you can display discounted pricing and deals on a password-protected online store that’s only accessible to retailers.

Learn more: Dropshipping vs Wholesale: Which Sourcing Method is Better?

As well as selling through your own store, you can also list your items on a wholesale marketplace. Handshake is by far the safest marketplace to sell wholesale products online. If you own a Shopify store and sell unique products under your own brand, you can apply to sell on this platform. 

Handshake stands out from other marketplaces because our team literally hand-picks and verifies every seller before they’re listed. Buyers know this, and therefore they trust the vendors more than wholesalers on other platforms. So expect to get high-quality inquiries when you do business.

2. Handshake

sell on handshake

As well as selling through your own store, you can also list your items on a wholesale marketplace. Handshake is by far the safest marketplace to sell wholesale products online. If you own a Shopify store and sell unique products under your own brand, you can apply to sell on this platform. 

Handshake stands out from other marketplaces because our team literally hand-picks and verifies every seller before they’re listed. Buyers know this, and therefore they trust the vendors more than wholesalers on other platforms. So expect to get high-quality inquiries when you do business.

3. Facebook Marketplace

sell on Facebook marketplace

If you want to sell online to a local audience, the Facebook Marketplace is the perfect place to list your products. It doesn’t charge a listing fee, but there are certain requirements that you need to fulfill to start selling on the platform. 

Since introducing it in 2016, Facebook has taken several steps to attract sellers to the platform. For example, the company recently partnered with Shopify to allow store owners to list their products on the Facebook Marketplace. This means if you build a Shopify store of your own, you can leverage different sales channels while managing your inventory through the core platform.

4. Etsy

Etsy is a wonderful platform for selling handmade goods, antiques, art, and collectibles. It primarily caters to crafters, so it has more of a niche appeal than other marketplaces. Plus, Etsy has extended its offering to accommodate digital products—you can now sell illustrations, planners, themes, and more on the platform. 

Getting started is as easy as making a shop account and listing items. However, be mindful that Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee per item and a 5% transaction fee.

5. Swappa

sell products on swappa

Swappa is a simple but effective marketplace where you can buy and sell tech products. The great thing about Swappa is that the team carefully filters through sellers to prevent scamming. For sellers, this means that you should expect any item you upload to be thoroughly scrutinized. 

However, the rigorous approval process involved with Swappa also makes it easier to gain customer trust. When it comes to listings, Swappa doesn’t charge any fees from sellers but offers a paid featured listing option in case a seller wants to get more visibility for their products.

6. OfferUp

One of the best online selling apps, OfferUp allows you to list anything from apparel to baby clothes to used cars. Each seller gets a profile with images, ratings, and transaction history. Nailing these things helps increase buyer confidence and generate more sales for your products. 

A novel advantage of OfferUp is that you can list a product in 30 seconds or less. Simply upload a high-quality image of the item, write a clear title and description, and voila!

7. 5miles

5miles is one of the top selling online apps for reaching people in your locality. Available for both iOS and Android phones, 5miles allows you to set up sales pages for different items. You can give your item a set price if it has a specific value, or you can use 5miles Dash. 

The Dash feature allows you to auction your items for 90 seconds, with bids starting at $1. Dash is also a fun way to buy new items for a great price. Who knows, you might just find something that would be a hit with your target audience.

8. OLX

OLX is a popular and well-known classified site that has earned attention in more than 50 countries worldwide. This is a great choice for sellers who want to sell their stuff to a local audience. Ads are free to use, but you can pay a little extra to have your listing placed at the top of the search results for your customers. 

The key to making sales on OLX is to be transparent with people. Let them know whether your product is brand new or second hand. You can also mention the packaging condition and delivery method you’re willing to use. Describe everything accurately, and you’ll start developing trust with OLX users.

9. Gumtree 

Gumtree is a UK-based classified website that was launched back in March 2000. Today, it’s one of the most popular selling platforms in the country, with over 1.3 million monthly visitors. Though Gumtree started in the UK, it’s now available in the US, Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Ireland, and more. 

On Gumtree, the way you present your products matter. Once you’ve identified a few products to sell, take good photos so that the audience can envision the item in their mind. You could also style the item to add interest. If you’re selling a mattress, consider placing some cute pillows on it for a simple yet effective way to add interest. 

10. Craigslist

It is probably the best-known classified ads site around. Craigslist makes it quick and easy to list the items you want to sell. You can choose a location site from the cities that suit you in the United States, Europe, Asia, Canada, and beyond. 

Most classified ads won’t cost anything to appear on Craigslist. However, you may need to pay a fee if you’re posting specific information, like brokered apartment rentals. 

What Are Some Advantages of Online Selling?

Once you have a good grasp on how to sell online, you can expect to get the following benefits.

Low Costs

The beauty of the digital world is that you can get started with very little investment. For example, if you create an online store, all you need to pay is hosting to keep it alive. That’s $29 a month if you use Shopify – much lower than paying rent for a physical storefront. If you need to market your products, it’s still way cheaper than renting a showroom or exhibiting at trade shows. 


As an online seller, you can be anywhere in the world and still take orders from your customers. Partner got a new job in another state? Just pack your laptop and relocate. Wherever you go, you’re just a tap and an internet connection away from running your operation.

Easy to Scale

Whereas physical stores need to build extra displays to showcase new items, online stores can add a virtually limitless number of products to their website. Just click a button. Plus, you can list your products on marketplaces to reach a wider audience for your business.

benefits of online selling

Where can I sell my stuff online?

There are many different platforms to sell online, including:

  • Shopify
  • Handshake
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Etsy
  • Swappa
  • OfferUp
  • 5miles
  • Olx
  • Gumtree
  • Craigslist

Where can I sell my stuff online for free?

The following platforms allow you to sell products online for free:

  • Craigslist
  • VarageSale
  • Nextdoor

However, they have limited viewership and don’t provide the ideal setting for scaling a business. If you’re looking for a place where you can grow as an online seller, consider starting with an ecommerce platform or a marketplace that attracts a vast audience.

What is the best way to sell online?

It depends. If you’re looking to establish a brand, the best way to sell online 

is to build an ecommerce store and make sales directly. However, online selling platforms like Amazon or eBay would be more suitable if your interest is to only sell products online, as opposed to starting a business. 

What is the best social media platform for online sales?

The growing number of sales features on modern social media platforms means that it’s easy to sell and make a profit. Channels like Instagram support retailers in setting up shop pages where they can show off their inventory to the local marketplace. Interested parties can add your items to a shopping basket and check out through the app. Moreover, you can sell products through Facebook groups, run ads, or launch a Facebook Business page

Tap Into Best Online Selling Platforms

There are many platforms, apps, and sites that you can use to sell your products online. If you have a good eye for trendy, profitable items, then consider selling them through one of these channels – the sooner you start, the better it will be for your retail/wholesale business.

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