The next big product within your niche of interest may not be coming from a multi-million dollar company. It could well have been thought up at a kitchen table and developed with a small budget – by you.
It’s a great product – or a line of products – and now you need to a place to sell it.
Building out an e-commerce website is complicated business if you know nothing about it. A hundred things are constantly breaking down, needing updates, patchwork and fixing, and without a decent budget or a webmaster, that can sound like a pretty daunting task.
So should you let that dream of taking your product to the market just wither and die because you’re not tech savvy?
Instead of creating a standalone e-commerce of your own, you can join bigger marketplaces as a shop-owner. The advantages of doing so are plenty.
You don’t need to build out an e-commerce website, and you don’t need to spend as much time and money on marketing. (Most of these marketplaces already have a marketing plan in action, which automatically goes to work, promoting and up-selling your product listings for you.)
So let’s look at some of your options here:
• If you’re big on social media then Spreesy may just be the right storefront solution for you. The homepage is deceptive, and reveals nothing of the marketplace tucked away inside, but once you’re inside it, the website is a hub of “social commerce”. In other words, it features shoppable posts which you can share on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. When a customer comes across your post and wants to buy your product, they drop a comment with their email address. After that, Spreesy takes over, sending them an email invoice and you’ve made your money. What’s more, you’re building an email marketing list, without even trying.
• Opening a store on Bonanza doesn’t expose you to the volume of traffic that, say, Amazon does. Even so, the website has some definite advantages that may work for the unique nature of your products. For example, you can directly import your listings from another marketplace like Amazon or Ebay, and that makes Bonanza an interesting venue for a second, ancillary store. Every listing automatically gets sent to Google and Bing Shopping And there are no listing fees. (There’s a Final Value fee, of course.) The thing to remember with Bonanza, however, is that their traffic isn’t as large as some other global marketplaces. So you have to put some effort in driving traffic yourself via social media etc.
• If you’re making handmade goods, like jewelry, home décor, fashion accessories, greeting cards etc, then you already now about Etsy. It’s like Ebay for the artisanal, handmade sector, but over the years, Etsy has gotten so big that getting exposure for your own storefront can be an uphill task. ShopHandmade is an easier option, and though they do not have the high volume of traffic that Etsy does, Shophandmade is absolutely free. You open your store and sell for no money at all. And in many ways, it is easier to get featured and build a customer following here.
• Artfire is a marketplace, craft and maker community where people from around the world come together to buy, sell and interact. It’s sort of a halfway house between Etsy and ShopHandmade. There are no listing or selling fees. The forums are extremely active, hosting a variety of topics such as staff announcements for your assistance, discounted items and tons of selling advice. Some great ways of being successful on Artfire is to use the blog feature to share content relevant to your products and creating `collections’ or `treasuries’ that often get shared by Artfire on their social channels.
• Storenvy is a series of online stores run by independent store-owners. Stores are fully customizable, with a feature-rich store admin panel, and is completely free. Storenvy is perfect for clothing companies, bands, crafters, artists, nonprofits and anyone else who has something to sell. Their platform allows the everyday person to sell their goods online without any programming knowledge. The bounce rate is pretty low too, which is an added plus because the website is still fairly new.
Alicia is the Chief Chaos Coordinator at Mastodon Media. She is loud, in your face, and has a DEEP passion for making your business hum. Chances are she has an idea for your business already. She is an artist when it comes to seeing what you need, and getting the rest of us to make it happen.