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How to Sell Online in 2021: The Ultimate Platform Guide to Selling Products Online

Selling online has become a trend in the past few years. Today, more retailers are launching websites than opening physical shops to sell their goods. Wholesalers, too, are more interested in exploring online selling sites than going to trade shows. Put simply, the opportunity to sell products online has completely changed the way we think about doing business.

One of the best parts about it is that you can sell anything without leaving your work desk! Once you get the hang of it, you can run the entire business with just a laptop. And yes, you can combine your online selling strategy with offline promotions to get big-time exposure in your market.

But where do you start?

For those without experience, learning the process can be a little daunting. Fortunately, we’ll help you become an online seller by giving you a complete overview of how and where to sell your products online. Whether you sell directly to end customers or sell wholesale to retailers, this ultimate guide will teach you how to reap profits with ecommerce selling.

What Are the Advantages of Online Selling?

The benefits of selling online include:


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. 

Flexibility

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

How to Start Selling Online: The Essential Steps

Preparation is important. You want to start on the right foot by selecting products that people will want to buy. Plus, there are various sales channels out there for selling your items, each with its own requirements. Take the time to lay the initial groundwork, so you can grow quickly as your online 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 desires. Finding such items can be difficult, but you’ll be surprised at where you can find product inspiration. 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 later.

2. Choose Your Sales Channels


Successfully selecting products online requires you to pick the right sales channels. Here are a few that might suit your business:

Hosted Ecommerce Store

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.

What’s more, some platforms allow you to integrate a wholesale channel to sell products in bulk. For instance, Shopify’s Plus plan allows you to sell items wholesale by creating a password-protected online store that serves as an extension of your main store. This means you can sell the same products to wholesale buyers but at different prices.

sell wholesale shopify


Online Marketplaces

As well as selling through your own store, you can also list your items on a marketplace. Doing so will get more eyeballs on your products. Online marketplaces are essentially well-known online selling sites, so there’s no need to worry about branding or building a customer database – these things are already done for you. Here are the top marketplaces for selling goods online.

Handshake

sell on handshake

Not to brag or anything, but 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. It stands out from other marketplaces because the Handshake 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. Expect high-quality inquiries!

Etsy

etsy sell products

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.

Facebook Marketplace

sell on Facebook marketplace

If you want to sell online to a local audience, the Facebook Marketplace is the place to list your products. This marketplace was created to facilitate trade between people living in the same community. There is no listing fee, but there are certain requirements that you need to fulfill to start selling on Marketplace. 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 Marketplace.

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms aren’t just a great place for interacting with friends, they can also be ideal for selling too. 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 Facebook.

Aside from using the direct shopping features, you can also sell products through Facebook groups, run ads, or launch a Facebook Business page. For those struggling to find buyers straight away, there are also tons of ways to target the right audience through Facebook advertising and boost your credibility with influencers.

The growing number of sales features on modern social media platforms means that it’s easy to sell and make a profit. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling just one item or starting a business.

Online Selling Apps

There’s an app for that also applies to online selling. Whether you’re trying to vend clothing, accessories, or gadgets, apps make it easy to find buyers without a hassle. Below, we’ve listed the best apps to sell your items and enjoy some profits.

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. Swappa doesn’t charge any fees for sellers to create listings, but you can pay to have your listing “featured” if you want to attract more potential buyers.

OfferUp

One of the best online selling apps, OfferUp allows you to list anything from apparel to baby clothes to used cars. Each user gets a profile with images, ratings, and transaction history. Nailing these things can help instill more confidence in your seller profile. 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 and write a clear title and description.

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.

Classified Sites

Classified sites are a popular choice for online selling when you want to avoid the time and expense of building your own website. Local classified ad sites tend to appeal most to people selling items as part of an ad-hoc strategy to make more money. You can list things like an old TV or games console on a classified site, but you probably wouldn’t run a business that way. 

Notably, most classified sites won’t charge a fee for you to list with them, but you will need to follow the rules about what kind of products you can advertise. Additionally, you don’t get any protection if you send someone an item and they don’t pay. Options for classified selling include:

  • 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 get rid of items quickly. 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Summary: Selling Online in 2021

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.

In summary, here are 12 online platforms for selling your products:

1. Own Shopify website

2. Handshake

3. Etsy

4. Facebook Marketplace

5. Swappa

6. OfferUp

7. 5 Miles

8. Facebook Shop

9. Instagram Shop

10. Olx

11. Gumtree

12. Craigslist

Each platform has its own unique requirements – and its appeal.


Which of these online selling platforms are you most interested in trying? Let us know in the comments below.

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