So you want to sell online?
Here are a few tips which can help you out getting started.
1 – Select your marketplace
Where do you want to list/publish and sell your items?
Places to consider:
To get a taste of the online retail business, I would strongly suggest that you experiment selling a few things on eBay first. Look around your house, and I guarantee you will find something to sell.
eBay is fairly easy to setup and has a friendly interface. You can literally list anything you want on eBay (As long as they’re within the rules)
You get all type of customers on here. Usually, people on this platform are after CHEAP items rather than QUALITY items.
Amazon is a more sophisticated and controlled marketplace compared to eBay. There are many stricter rules here. Also, you may not just list anything you want on this platform. Most items must be recognised by Amazon’s database. In most cases, you can add a new item to Amazon’s database if you have the correct EAN/ barcode number. It’s worthy to note that it is much harder getting back on Amazon if your account was suspended dues to breaking the rules or having a bad customer service. This is why I strongly suggest you use eBay first. On both eBay and Amazon, your account may get restricted or suspended without any warning.
If you sell on Amazon, you can take advantage of their FBA services. That means, you can send all your stock to Amazon, and they will ship it for you.
Etsy is like a hybrid between Amazon and eBay, Etsy has a very strict policy on what sort of products are allowed on its market. Mostly used to sell handmade unique products.
Last but not least, your own website! Advantages selling on this platform: You, the website owner create the rules! There are no vetting processes. There are no surprise suspensions from Amazon/eBay/Etsy due to some customer complaints, or breaking the rules etc. Downside: You need to bring in your own traffic! That means putting aside a marketing budget e.g. Google Ads.
2 – Type of product you are planning to sell
Would it be Digita or Physical?
Find a product you would like to sell, then I would suggest using eBay as a research tool and looking at seller sales history to get an idea on how many similar items are being sold per day.
Use Alibaba.com and chat with the suppliers to get an idea on pricing etc.
3 – Shipping
If digital, how are you going to distribute the digital copy? Do you own all the rights?
If physical, make sure you understand all shipping costs, including, packaging material and labour.
Would you ship them yourself? Or use a third party Fulfilment Centre? (Do a quick Google for Fulfilment Centre Near Me)
You can also use Amazon’s FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)
4 – Sourcing your products
Use places such as Alibaba.com to get an initial idea of the market. Feel free to orders some sample from here too. But remember, most product’s quality is not up to scratch when ordering from China. Majority of the time, the actual product looks different than the photos. Make sure you order samples from several suppliers. If you can visit their factory in China (I wrote an article on how some Chinese suppliers lie about their factory location. Read that article)
Check with your local market and wholesalers for unique items.
Build an item from scratch! Design your own product and manufacture it locally.
5- Future proofing
If you source a product on Alibaba, and end up selling it well on eBay and Amazon, what is going to stop someone else from finding your item and selling it?
This is why it’s important to customise your product. Perhaps have an exclusivity contract with the manufacturers in China (Not that it makes a lot of difference, but gives you some degree of protection). Patent or copyright the product’s design if possible.
If you have sourced all your items from Alibaba, and there are not many competitors on eBay / Amazon, then Do NOT share your eBay ID / Amazon shop. Keep it secret!
Also, make sure you turn eBay listings to private so that no one can find your popular selling products through your feedback section.
6 – Customer Service
If you are selling on eBay and Amazon, be prepared to put up with all sort of customers. You CANNOT fight them! eBay and Amazon will take customer’s side in almost ALL cases! If a customer is not happy, do your best to keep them happy. If you refuse to take a return within the first 30 days, for example, eBay’s Money Back Guarantee will kick in any way, and you are very likely to lose the case. And, your account will get flagged for having a case against it, meaning, you may get suspended in the future if you receive more cases. So you are better off just accepting the return without any argument.
If you have your own site, however, you are more in control, and buyers cannot mess with you as much (They will still try!)
7 – Enjoy and have fun
It is truly an amazing experience watching sales happening while you are in the gym working out or spending time with family! It’s great! Just follow the rules, be nice to the customers, and watch all the money pour in!
Enjoy the journey