Which Ecommerce Platform Should I Sell On?

Imagine it’s 1997. You’re about to launch your handmade Dharma & Greg bobblehead shop online. You’ve got the bobbleheads made, the packaging ready, and a “Good luck!” fax from the full time job you put behind you. Going online, you discover to your horror you have no idea how to make a website. After all, the Internet only came out a week or so ago. How could you have failed so horribly?

Fortunately, it’s not 1997, but twenty years later, and rather than be a confusing and cold place, the Internet has plenty of ways to help you sell your products online. No longer is it necessary to have a website for your store; shopping platforms abound, you now have the option to host your shop on sites like Amazon. But it isn’t just Amazon at your disposal! So which to choose? Let’s explore your options…

Etsy

Etsy has been a personal favorite of mine ever since I figured out where my mom keeps her credit card. While mainly known for the handmade and vintage, you can purchase just about anything from artisanally-made products, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and even gourmet food. Entrepreneurs who specialize in the crafty and unique will have fun here.

Pros

  • The vast and quirky options that Etsy provides make every shopping experience fun, and with no two shops alike, you’ll feel less like a competitor and more like a member of the community.
  • Customers truly respect Etsy, mainly because of the customer-shopkeeper relationships that can be built from transactions. As a shopper, I’ve had many good experiences communicating with shopkeepers, and as long as you like people, your communications with customers will only do you good!
  • Even if you sell the most uncommon of products, there will always be a market for you. I love Etsy as a shopper because I can find everything and anything, and even if you’re uniquely the only shop who sells a certain product, there’s bound to be a customer base for you.

Cons

  • Beginners on Etsy may have trouble getting noticed, and that can be very frustrating.
  • Etsy requires you to pay certain fees with each transaction (a listing fee, a sales fee, and a credit card fee) and that can quickly add up.
  • Their search feature has always been a little awkward, and with sponsored items always popping up on each page, your listings may be buried.

eBay

Since the dawn of time (or at least the turn of the 21st century) eBay has been a marvel in providing the best deals on the Internet. And while I as a consumer would rather pay extra for toilet paper through eBay than walk down the street to the bodega, sellers like my mom have found success selling their unused things from around the home. Lovingly, I think of it as the Internet’s yard sale.

Pros

  • You can sell just about anything that’s legal. You can sell some old sweaters you found in your closet, or your grandmother’s hand-sewn beaded sweaters from the 1940s.
  • eBay has a global reach without having to noodle around with any settings. As far as I’m aware, it’s the easiest way to score goods from other countries.
  • In addition to doing old fashioned transactions, should you choose, customers have the option to haggle with you or barter auction-style. Maybe you have a set price for all your goods, but if you have inventory that hasn’t done so well, rest-assured you can still get a buyer through eBay.

Cons

  • Just like Etsy, there are fees to pay, and at 10% for eBay, that may be a doozy for you.
  • There’s less of a demand for handmade or originally-produced items, so if you’re making your own goods or even do custom-made stuff for clients, you may have trouble finding clientele.
  • eBay isn’t SEO-supported at all, and even searching in the site itself may lead to you having issues finding clients, unless however you sell your product is tightly-named and doesn’t need a lot of words to describe.

Shopify

Shopify’s the one platform I personally have never used, but I’ve heard amazing things. Unlike other platforms, it requires you to run your own website for your business, but when your business is powered by Shopify, it gives you unique analytical information to help you succeed.

Pros

  • It’s perhaps the most intuitive way to sell stuff online. Allowing you the freedom of customization, you can operate independently through your website but still have access to Shopify’s tools.
  • Since Shopify enables you to run your shop as its own website, all its design tools are available to you for customization. Not design savvy? They have themes ready for use to make your shop look incredible.
  • Shopify allows you to sell on eBay and Amazon through your account, enabling you to dip into two different markets.

Cons

  • It’s by far the most expensive of all the platforms out there, but that’s to be expected when they offer you your own website and web domain.
  • Setting up your store can be a bit of a pain, especially when you want to jump in and start selling. You’ll need to set aside plenty of time when you’re just starting out.
  • Its overall platform and use might really only make sense to those who’ve sold online before. Newcomers are welcomed, but with so many features, it might take a while to get the ropes.

BigCommerce

Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce is another platform that allows you to operate independently as an entrepreneur with your own website. While not as well-known, it’s still a powerhouse in the ecommerce world.

Pros

  • BigCommerce is available to use not only through a desktop browser but also through their app, allowing you to manage your store on the go.
  • While all platforms have their share of fees, because BigCommerce is lesser known, they’re a bit more affordable for anyone on a budget.
  • Not only can merchants connect their account with eBay and Amazon, but Facebook as well, paving the way for a new generation of online shopping through social media.

Cons

  • Their support system isn’t available 24/7, which may be a problem for merchants with customers in different countries or who work late hours.
  • The templates available aren’t particularly spectacular and not as attractive as Shopify’s.
  • There aren’t as many add-ons available for use as other platforms offer, and a shopkeeper looking for a more integrative user experience might be turned off by this.

Amazon

Ah, yes, finally. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might have already caught wind that Amazon’s my favorite marketplace on the web. With Amazon’s own deals and user friendliness, it’s easy for shopkeepers to just jump right in.

Pros

  • Amazon’s international reach has made it an all-star in the ecommerce world, and with customer support in so many countries, you’re not left in the dark when shipping your product worldwide.
  • Amazon offers you the opportunity to store some of your inventory at their fulfillment centers, which means you don’t have to deal with shipping, your customers are happy, and you make more sells. Yay!
  • With so many customers using Amazon on a daily basis, there’s no need to push yourself harder to market your shop. Customers can discover your shop with ease.

Cons

  • While healthy competition is always good, because Amazon is so big, it’s easy to be overlooked. If you don’t have the best prices, or if your product requires shipping costs, longtime Amazon customers (especially customers who have Prime, which offers free shipping on Prime-certified products) will overlook you.
  • Depending on your style, customer service may not be a big thing for you, but Amazon cuts out the customer-buyer communication by offering their own customer service help instead. Now while it’s true most customer service issues are simple and don’t require extensive communication, I feel it’s up to the seller to handle any issues should they arise, and by cutting out the opportunity to connect with customers, it results in a more impersonal shopping experience for everyone.
  • At the end of the day, Amazon is by far the priciest vendor. In addition to fees on each product you sell, shopkeepers also need to pay upwards of $500 a year just to have their catalogue on Amazon’s site.

What is the best option for me?

Ultimately, the platform that will work best for you will depend on how comfortable you are maneuvering online transactions, as well as the Internet in general. Doing your research (like checking out SumAll’s analytics on Shopify and eBay) will enlighten you of your best option. Newbies may appreciate a more hands-on experience, while old timers might like a little breathing room. Whichever you choose, know that no matter what, each platform is still fantastic in its own way. They’re just here to offer a little help on your business’s way to success.


One thought on “Which Ecommerce Platform Should I Sell On?

  • You did a nice article, there are few important features that you should look for on any eCommerce platform. AMAZON the best online shop sites. Great services mobile responsiveness, user-friendly, loading speed, easy accessibility of products and much more.

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